The Knee

Understanding and Protecting Your Knee

by: Martin Zackroff

The knee joint is one of the more commonly injured joints for athletes as well as active adults. Please read the following about the knee and call if you have any further questions.

The KneeAnatomy

The knee is comprised of three bones, four major ligaments, two menisci, and four muscle groups.

The bones are

  • the femur (the thigh bone)
  • the patella (knee cap)
  • and the tibia (shin bone)

The ligaments are

  • the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
  • the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)
  • medial collateral ligament (MCL),
  • and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL)

The four muscle groups include

  • the quadriceps (front of the thigh),
  • hamstrings (back of the thigh),
  • gastrocnemius (calf),
  • and ilio-tibial band (ITB) (the lateral thigh)


There are many diagnoses that are associated with the knee, but I will only discuss a few.

Patello-femoral Pain Syndrome: This diagnosis is characterized by pain around the knee cap associated with abnormal stresses to the knee. These abnormal stresses may be a result of one or a combination of the following: weakness in any of the muscles, decreased flexibility of the muscles, or poor coordination of the muscles. This diagnosis is sometimes called Runner’s Knee.

Ligament Injuries: Injury to any ligament occurs when a ligament is over stretched. These usually occur as a result of contact; however, many ligament injuries occur without contact, especially the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

Meniscal Injuries: The menisci are cartilage padding between the femur and the tibia. This cartilage can become injured as a result of a twisting motion of the knee or secondary to wear and tear.

IT Band Syndrome: This diagnosis is characterized by tightness within the IT Band, which runs from you hip to below your knee. Tightness within this band can lead to abnormal pulling on the patella, leading to knee pain.

Patellar Tendonitis: The patellar tendon attaches the patella downward to the tibia. This structure can be aggravated by repetitive jumping, hence this diagnosis has been commonly known as Jumper’s Knee.

Physical Therapy Treatment

The general plan for treating the above diagnoses include stretching, strengthening, gait and agility training, and modalities to control the pain and swelling. The muscles needed to be stretched include: the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals, gastrocnemius, and IT Band. In addition to the above muscles, the core and hip musculature must also be addressed when performing strengthening exercises. Gait and agility training include various exercises that involve multiple muscle groups with quick change of direction in order to re-train our patient’s to run and improve his/her coordination to avoid re-injury. The modalities to help with the pain and swelling include, but are not limited to ice, electrical stimulation, and ultrasound.

If you or someone you know has suffered from a knee injury, or you just want to know more, please visit  Joint & Spine Physical Therapy at

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