Your knee

The knee joint is a hinge joint, which mainly allows for bending, straightening and a small degree of rotation. It is made up of the tibofemoral joint (between the thigh bone and the shin bone) and the patellofemoral joint (where the kneecap or patella slides on the thigh bone). These joints work together, alongside ligaments, tendons and muscles to provide a stable system to help when standing and walking.

The end of each bone is covered with cartilage, which allows the bones to move against each other almost without friction. The knee/ tibiofemoral joint has two extra pieces of cartilage called menisci, which spread the load more evenly across the knee. The knee joint is held in place by four large ligaments. These are thick, strong bands which run within or just outside the joint capsule. Together with the capsule, the ligaments prevent the bones moving in the wrong directions or dislocating. The thigh muscles (quadriceps) and patella tendon helps to hold the patellofemoral joint in place.

Common causes of knee pain

Common causes of knee pain often originates from bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons and muscles. These pains may be a result of an acute injury or a flare up of a long-standing issue. Symptoms often tend to settle with time and good self-management including simple advice such as keeping active and moving.

Below are links to more information about common conditions affecting the knee. Click on the image that best represents the area you have symptoms for more details.

When to seek help

The majority of symptoms and pain should get better with 6-8 weeks.

The majority of symptoms and pain should get better with 6-8 weeks.

Speak to a healthcare professional as soon as possible if:

  • there’s been significant trauma, for example a fall from height or direct blow to the knee
  • you can’t put any weight at all through your leg
  • significant swelling of the knee that started suddenly