The knee is one of the most complicated joints in the body as well as having the greatest amount of muscle to control a single joint. It takes a great deal of stress in its working life being involved in walking ,running, climbing and crouching to name only a few. The most common problem seen with the knee is stains/tears of the ligaments which are important to control the knee movement. If the knee is overworked the ligaments can become damaged, the knee usually swells and there is general tightness of all the associated muscles.
Less common are injuries to the cartilages within the knee joint that provide cushioning within the joint and reduce the pressure on the cartilage covering of the bones. There are ligaments helping to hold these in place these can become painful or the cartilages can become damaged from minor tears that will repair to major ones that cause locking within the knee and require surgery to remove usually by using a telescope. Some patients have problems with the knee cap ( patella ). If you look at your leg you will see the lower leg and thigh are not in a straight line. The result of this is when the front thigh muscles pull strongly the knee cap wants to move outwards. The knee cap runs in a bony groove in the thigh bone ( femur ). If the muscle control that stops this happening is weakened the knee cap will rub against the edge of the groove and cause a wear and tear problem.
The knee is a common place to experience generalised wear and tear or arthritis. Arthritis is a wearing of the cartilage on the inside of the joint. A common misconception is that there is no help for the pain from arthritis. It is important to realise the joint surfaces are insensitive to pain. So it is not the wear and tear causing the pain but the bodies reaction to it. Sensitivity of the tendons, ligaments , capsule of the joint, swelling and protective muscle fatigue which all do produce pain. All of these structures the body can repair and are areas that can be helped with treatment. It is only when the wear reaches a point where the function of the joint has deteriorated too far that a surgical solution, replacement joint may be needed.