Knee Symptoms

Although the knee is the largest joint in the body, it is not the strongest. The knee is a hinge joint between the femur and the tibia and enables flexion and extension. When it is flexed, a small degree of lateral motion is also normal. As with the shoulder, the knee depends on the strong muscles and ligaments around the joint for its stability.

Figure 20-44 Testing the range of motion at the hip. The examiner flexes the patient's hip and knee to 90° and rotates the ankle inward for external rotation (A) and outward for internal rotation (B).

Pain, swelling, joint instability, and limited movement are the main symptoms of knee disorders. Knee pain is exacerbated by movement and may be referred to the calf or thigh. Swelling of the knee indicates a synovial effusion or bleeding into the joint, also known as hemarthrosis. Knee trauma may result in hemarthrosis and limitation of joint motion. Locking of the knee results from small pieces of broken cartilage lodged between the femur and the tibia, blocking full extension of the joint.

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