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St. Lucie Medical Center
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St. Lucie Medical Center Emergency Room at Darwin Square
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Knee Care

How the Knee Works

A joint is formed by 2 or more bones that are connected by thick bands of tissue called ligaments. The knee is the largest joint in the body and is made up of three main parts:

  • The lower end of the thigh bone, or femur
  • The upper end of the shin bone, or tibia
  • The kneecap, or patella

The thigh bone (femur) turns on the upper end of the shin bone (tibia), and the kneecap (patella) slides in a groove on the end of the thigh bone. Ligaments, which are bands of tissue, connect the thigh bone and the shin bone to help keep the knee joint steady. The quadriceps, the long muscles on the front of the thigh, help strengthen the knee.

A smooth substance called articular cartilage covers the surface of the bones where they touch each other within the joint. This articular cartilage acts as a cushion between the bones. The rest of the surfaces of the knee joint are covered by a thin, smooth tissue liner called synovial membrane, which makes a small amount of fluid that acts as a lubricant so that the joint bones will not rub against each other.

Knee Anatomy and Function

The knee is the largest joint in the body and is central to nearly every routine activity. The knee joint is formed by the ends of 3 bones: the lower end of the thigh bone (femur), the upper end of the shin bone (tibia), and the knee cap (patella). Thick, tough tissue bands called ligaments connect the bones and stabilize the joint. A smooth, plastic-like lining called cartilage covers the ends of the bones and prevents them from rubbing against each other, allowing for flexible and nearly frictionless movement. Cartilage also serves as a shock absorber, cushioning the bones from the forces between them. Finally, a soft tissue called synovium lines the joint and produces a lubricating fluid that reduces friction and wear.

Knee Joint Replacement

If arthritis (or injury) has damaged your knee, and different treatments for your pain haven’t helped you get through your everyday activities comfortably, you may be ready to consider knee replacement surgery.

Knee replacement has been proven over four decades to relieve severe knee pain and restore knee function in the vast majority of patients. In fact, the National Institutes of Health recently concluded that knee replacement surgery is “a safe and cost-effective treatment for alleviating pain and restoring function in patients who do not respond to non-surgical therapies.”

Advantages of Knee Replacement

Because fewer muscles and tendons are disturbed with the minimally invasive techniques, their reconstruction is more natural, wound closure may be easier, and recovery may be faster.

Risks Associated with Minimally Invasive Surgery

The MIS Knee Joint Replacement technique is significantly less invasive than conventional TKR, but it is still a major surgery. It takes little additional time to complete and may result in advantages for you. Joint replacement surgery is a major surgery and significant complications, while rare, can occur.

As with any major surgical procedure, patients who undergo total joint replacement are at risk for certain complications, the vast majority of which can be successfully avoided or treated. In fact, the complication rate following joint replacement surgery is very low. Serious complications, such as joint infection, occur in less than 2% of patients. (Besides infection, possible complications include blood clots and lung congestion, or pneumonia.)

You Don’t Have to Live with Knee Pain

You don’t have to live with severe knee pain and the limitations it puts on your activities. If you haven’t experienced adequate relief with medication and other conservative treatments, MIS Knee Joint Replacement may provide the pain relief you long for and enable you to return to your favorite activities. Remember, even if your doctor recommends knee replacement for you, it is still up to you to make the final decision. The ultimate goal is for you to be as comfortable as possible with your choice — and that always means making the best decision based on your own individual needs.

For more information visit the Knee Replacement Directory on WebMD.com and contact your doctor.