Your knee stability does not have the advantage of being a ball in a socket structure like your hip joint.
The knee joint comprises a rounded bone sitting on top of a flat bone, subjected to very large forces tending to knock it off it's perch.
Twisting is probably the most likely movement to cause trouble. This can be as simple as turning around in the shower, or as violent as twisting suddenly when the foot is planted on the ground in a football match.
Despite its' strong ligaments, our knee stability still depends a lot on having a strong quadriceps muscles.
Immediately we start to limp, because of a sore knee, the Quadriceps muscle on the front of our thigh begins to waste away from disuse.
Measure the diameter of your thighs with a tape measure, about a hands' span above your knee. Sit with both legs in the same position, and mark both with a Biro the same distance from your knee. Measure them here. You should be bigger on your dominant side.
Record the position and the measurements, for later comparison.
Over the next few days, please work hard at developing a new habit.
WHEN SITTING, LIFT YOUR FOOT
Whenever you are sitting anywhere, take your foot off the floor. Alternate sides if both your knees are sore.
Place a notice somewhere you sit often, to help remind you. Replace the notice often, to ensure you keep noticing it.
It requires a lot of work to keep Quadriceps toned up and prevent it from wasting.
If you are sitting and your hands are free, you can ramp up this exercise.
Sit well back on a padded chair and clasp your hands beneath the thigh. Lean your forearm on the other thigh a bit. Hold your foot out in front of you, with your knee fully straight.
Using your hands to support the thigh may help to avoid getting a sore back from this exercise.
Lifting something on your foot with extra weight, increases this further. Start with about one pound weight, and slowly increase it up to even 20 lbs. (for football players.)
WHEN STANDING, BEND YOUR KNEE AND TAKE YOUR WEIGHT ON THAT LEG.
When you have to stand still, shift your weight to this leg, bend your knee a little and use your other foot lightly on the floor to balance yourself.
If your arthritic knee clicks and crunches when standing with your weight on it, this may be less likely if it is bent a little - it is worth experimenting to find out in which position it feels more stable. This may be useful when you have to lift the other foot, as in the shower.
If you sprain the medial ligament¹ of your knee, the pain is on the inner side of your knee as you put your foot down when walking.
As you move your body forward with this foot on the ground, push firmly down with your big toe, until you have to lift the foot to swing it forwards.
This can readily reduce the pain, as the knee is not tending to sag into a valgus (knock knee) posture, which stretches the sprained medial ligament.
Here is your knee telling you to improve your use of your foot!
The joint between the thigh bone and knee cap can also be unstable. The knee cap can slip out sideways, or feel it is at risk of doing this. Teenage girls with lax ligaments are particularly prone to this. A sudden dislocation can break bone or break articular cartilage, and the knee can immediately swell from bleeding. This is one situation where an immediate MRI examination is often warranted, as sometimes large cartilage fragments can be fixed back in place usefully.
1. Our knee acts like a hinge, bending mostly only forwards and backwards ("extension" and "flexion.") Our leg bone swings on the rounded lower end of our thigh bone.
Looked at from the side, as in the first diagram above, the ligaments of the knee are attached about at the "N" if the "knee" label. Starting here, in the middle of the rounded end of the femur (thigh bone,) they are able to stay tight as your knee swings back and forth.
They cross the joint and are attached below to the leg bones. They include the medial ligament on the inner side of the knee, the lateral ligament on the outer side and the cruciate ligaments in the middle of the joint.
At the front and back of the knee, the long muscles are able to stay tight by altering their length as the knee swings.
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