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Why Knees Hurt


Me day after knee surgery 

What better time to write about ‘why knees hurt’ than a day and a half after knee surgery as I sit here jealously watching joggers bounce along the sea wall on a gorgeous Vancouver day.  I am hiding out from my three little kids today to give my meniscus a chance to calm down.  It was a relatively minor surgery, but my knee is very swollen none the less.  I can add this one to my list of injuries and operations that help me experience empathy for my clients instead of sympathy.  Unfortunately, over the years, I have been way too good at market research for my work as a physiotherapist!  This article will hopefully help prevent you from sitting where I am today, or at very least know when to take the plunge and have surgery on that persistent, nagging knee pain.

A little bit of basic anatomy will give you a better context to understand your knees and this article.

 

Your knees are simply big hinge joints that are built to flex and extend.  They are held together by four major ligaments called your MCL, LCL, ACL & PCL.  Sandwiched in the middle of the joints are two C-shaped cartilage cups called your medial and lateral meniscus; these act as both shock absorbers and stabilizers.  On the front of the joints your knee caps function to protect your knees and act as levers to help strengthen the pull of your thigh muscles.

knee muscular anatomy

 

When I assess people complaining of knee pain, my first goal is to determine if one of the above mentioned structures is physically damaged or is something simply disturbing the mechanics of the joint, creating friction and causing pain.  I would say that 90 percent of the time it is the latter. 

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Basic Knee Anatomy

Here is my YouTube video outlining the basic relevant and functional
anatomy of the knee using an anatomical model.

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