The knee is a very complex joint with many components (bones, muscles, ligaments, and meniscus cartilage). The knees have to support the body’s full weight when we stand and provide even more support when we walk or run. Your knees have to be in good working order for you to get through your day – at work – at home – or performing the sports or other activities you enjoy. Unfortunately, knees can be prone to a range of injuries and conditions – especially for people who play sports.

Knee problems

ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury

Quickly changing direction, slowing down abruptly from a run, landing hard or unevenly when jumping, falls, and collisions can all cause tears in the ACL.

MCL (medial collateral ligament) injury

MCL injuries are usually caused by a direct blow to the outside of the knee.

PCL (posterior cruciate ligament ) injury

PCL injuries are generally caused by a blow to the front of the knee or a hard fall.

Torn cartilage

The term knee cartilage usually refers to the meniscus, which is attached to knee ligaments and acts like a shock absorber. It can be torn in falls, collisions, abrupt twisting, pivoting, or decelerating.


This is the most common form of knee arthritis and is a slowly progressive degenerative disease where joint cartilage gradually wears away. It most often affects middle-aged and older people.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

This inflammatory disease can destroy the joint cartilage. It can strike people at any age and generally affects both knees.

Post-traumatic Arthritis

Just as it sounds, this can develop after an injury to the knee. It’s similar to osteoarthritis and may develop years after a fracture, ligament injury, or meniscus tear.

When should you see a doctor?

As with any joint, if pain or stiffness is keeping you from normal activities, it’s time to see your doctor. Seek help immediately if you:

  • Hear a popping noise and feel your knee give out when you’re involved in an activity
  • Experience severe pain
  • Have noticeable swelling around the knee joint
  • Begin limping
  • Have pain walking or using stairs
  • Notice any knee deformity
  • Also, if an older knee replacement is not working as well anymore

Your knee condition will be evaluated via The Joint Program at the OICM.

There are many non-invasive treatments available. If they aren’t helping, it may be time to consider a knee replacement.

Knee replacement surgery

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, more than 600,000 knee replacements are performed each year in the United States. So, they are not uncommon and they are proven effective.

The knee joint is a ball-and-socket configuration. The surgery does not replace all of the bones in your knee joint. Instead, the surgeon removes the damaged cartilage surfaces at the ends of the femur and tibia, along with a small amount of underlying bone.

Smooth metal implants are placed where the protective cartilage and bone surface used to be. In effect, they re-create the surface of the femur and tibia. Next, the patella is addressed. Depending upon the patient and the condition of the knee, the patella may or may not be resurfaced.

Finally, the surgeon inserts a medical-grade plastic spacer between the metal components. This creates a smooth gliding surface. The result will be a smooth-gliding joint surface that restores movement and frees you from pain.

To learn more about knees and knee replacements, visit our Patient Library where you will find informative articles about how the knee works, overall knee wellness, injury prevention techniques, potential knee problem, and details on the most-current treatments and surgical procedures being done today.