Posted on 1 Oct 2018
Knee Anatomy - Parts, Functions and Health
It’s not uncommon for people who have gained weight to say they’re concerned about their knees, with this in mind I had a little search for articles around the subject. So a bit of anatomy to begin as what we consider our knee joint is actually several joints; what’s generally considered the ‘knee joint’ is the tibiofemoral joint (TFJ), the joint between the tibia (shin) and femur (thigh); we also have the ‘kneecap joint’ or patellofemoral joint (PFJ) the joint between the patella (kneecap) and femur.
Development of osteoarthritis (OA) in the knees is more likely if you are overweight with OA in the TFJ the more likely; mechanical stress from the extra load going through the joint and the bodies adaptation to it is thought to be one aspect contributing to development of OA, however it is noted that OA is more likely in overweight people in joints that don’t weight bear too (i.e. the hand) leading to a belief that another aspect in development of OA may be the extra body fat producing proteins that worsen joint inflammation which subsequently may be instrumental in cartilage degeneration.
Now regarding the PFJ, which plays a large role in flexion/bending the knee; it is estimated that this joint is exposed to loads 2-3 times your body weight during activity, and OA in the PFJ appears in half of people experiencing knee pain or knee OA. The research found that those with PFJ pain were heavier, and those with PFJ OA were heavier again; although extra weight was not a predictor for those without PFJ pain, creating a chicken or egg debate -is pain due to excess weight or is excess weight due to reduced activity due to pain?
There is some belief that PFJ OA and pain are on a continuum and essentially it is concluded that reducing excess weight may well benefit the knees by restricting mechanical and metabolic effects believed to be caused by it.
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Image credit to OMRF.ORG