Knee Anatomy:

The knee is a very complex structure.  This accounts for the reason why the knee can be injured easily, and why treatment of certain knee issues can be difficult. Not all knee injuries occur in isolation. That means that someone with an anterior cruciate ligament tear may also have a meniscus tear or another cartilage injury.

This video on knee anatomy is  quite thorough and will provide you with a nice overview of the knee and serve  as  a good starting point as you seek to learn more about your knee and what the source of your knee pain may be.

When you have finished watching this knee anatomy video you should have a firm grasp on the bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints and bursae around the knee.  Then we can get into particulars about how each can be afflicted to cause you discomfort.

For more information on specific injuries to the knee, please see the sections on:

Suffering from knee pain?  Give us a call… In Dutchess and Westchester County, NY 914-789-2735
About the author:

Howard J. Luks, MD

A Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon in Hawthorne, NY. Dr Luks specializes in the treatment of the shoulder, knee, elbow, and ankle. He has a very "social" patient centric approach and believes that the more you understand about your issue, the more informed your decisions will be. Ultimately your treatments and his recommendations will be based on proper communications, proper understanding, and shared decision-making principles --- all geared to improve your quality of life. Please read our Disclaimer

20 comments on “Knee Anatomy Video

  1. Hello Dr. Luks.
    Thank you so much for your informative website. I am a 69 year old woman in good general health, although I do have RA (8 years), which is quite well managed with Remicade. A hard fall onto my knee in May of 2010 resulted in stretching of both the lateral and medial collateral ligament. A cortisone shot and knee brace helped to resolve the problem in time. At that time, thinning of the medial meniscus and the ACL was found, as well as significant OA in the knee joint. Since then I have had three major episodes of acute pain, instability, and limited ability to bear weight. Twice I was given a cortisone shot, which heped to resolve the pain.

    The current issue started December 20th, 2011, with symptoms same as prior, and it was too early to have another shot. I have been exercising the knee, but have recently had to resort to managing the pain with Ultram, which is mildly effective. I also take Celebrex daily for RA. This time, the pain has gotten progressively worse, and is complicated by nerve pain going to the top of my foot, as well as pain in the calf. I have had to take a 5 mg. Percocet when the pain increases late in the evening.

    Recently, after so many weeks of pain and limitation of movement, I had an MRI which showed the following: A Baker’s Cyst (about the size of an egg), with evidence of partial rupture; mildly progressive degenerative marrow signal changes in the medial femoral condyle, oblique degen. tear of the posterior horn of the med. meniscus and degenerative signal changes in the med. meniCan the cyst be reduced or treated in any effective way?

    scus. In addition, chronic tear and fibrosis of the ACL, with a few fibers present. Finally, interval development of small joint effusion. and small loose body in posterior intercondylar notch.

    It is recommended by my rheumatologist and now an orthopedic doctor that I have an arthroscopic surgery to repair what can be repaired. Do you agree that this is my only option at this time? Can the cyst be reduced or treated in any effective way?

    Many thanks,
    Judi Brody

    1. It is very unlikely that I would agree with performing a reconstruction of an ACL in a rheumatoid with arthritic changes…. There is a strong likelihood that an arthroscopy would not help as well… but I can not say for sure without examining you, listening more to you articulate your complaints and getting a good look at your plain XR.

      Can’t hurt to talk with an orthopedist and see what they say. We can always request a second opinion if necessary.

      Judi… thanks for stopping by… and good luck~~~!!

      Howard Luks
      Orthopedic Surgery Westchester County NY

  2. Thank you so much for your clarity and thorough descriptions, as well as the options available. So many questions arise after you’ve visited the doctor, and your video and articles covered so many of them. The actual workings of a healthy knee, as shown in the video, was extremely beneficial as well.

    Just wanted to say thanks.

  3. Hi! So I have partial horizontal cleavage tear in my medial meniscus. I’m a senior in high school and basketball season is coming up and I really want to play. Is it okay for me to proceed and play with a Hinged knee brace? It doesnt Hurt when I practice with my team. Thanks!

  4. My MRI report says ” bucket handle tear of the body(meniscus) and posterior horn of medial meniscus; detached fragment has flipped below the body and deep to the medial collateral ligament. Focal marrow edema in the adjacent medial tibial condyle. Partial avulsion of the posterior root attachment of the medial meniscus.”
    Will this require surgery to remove the detached fragment.
    Can the bucket handle tear and posterior horn tear be structured.
    I am 50 years Asian female with history of Osteoarthritis.

    1. Repairability is usually determined at the time of surgery… but a loose flap is unlikely to be repairable. An isolated root avulsion can be repaired.

  5. I m 38 years pakistani woman.My MRI report tells that I ve got grade3 posterior horn medial meniscus tear . Grade 4 chondromalysia patella. ACL n PCL are intact. My Dr says for arthroscopy n no other solution. Should I go for surgery ? Or nt.i m unable to walk I ll be ok after arthroscopy or nt ?Plz guide thanks.

    1. Nothing wrong with trying physio first … you are the person who determines if surgery is needed. Meniscus surgery is never emergent.. not urgent.
      Good Luck

  6. and i thank your doctor i really thanks beacuse of your good web site thais help me to know every thing about my knee

  7. Hello Dr. Luks. Thank you for your informative website. I am a 45yr old female with previous soccer knee injuries that required arthroscopic surgery in 1986 and 1988. I had a medial meniscal tear which was removed in addition to cartilage fragments removed. There was a complete ACL tear that was not repaired due to the need for invasive surgery at that time. I am very active and have been doing crossfit for 2yrs. With knee sleeves I have been fine until two weeks ago. I fell forward with heavy weight and landed on the medial aspect of my right knee. I had significant, immediate swelling and was able to see an orthopod within 48hrs of the injury at which time the swelling had decreased by approximately 30%. 45mls of serosanguinous fluid was removed from my knee during that visit and he suspected a bucket handle tear of my meniscus since I was unable to straighten my knee and clicking was present post injury (specific knowledge of the previous surgeries was unavailable due to the length of time that passed). My MRI report shows:
    1. medial meniscus- marked truncation of the free edge of the meniscus with little to no meniscal tissue remaining at the mid body. The anterior root is absent (I’m assuming from my previous surgeries)
    2. lateral meniscus- mucoid degeneration of the anterior horn and root. There is lingitudinal tearing at the periphery of posterior horn, arising from the attachment of the meniscofemoral ligament. age indeterminate.>>>if this tear is potentially new, should repair be attempted?
    3. ACL is not visualized, all other ligaments are intact (are ACL repairs ever performed in active people with ongoing knee pain? just wondering)
    4. medial compartment- diffuse cartilage thinning and fissuring
    5. patellofemoral compartment- there is mild cartilage fissuring along the medial facet of the patella, small joint effusion
    6. bone marrow- focal intense marrow edema within the anteriomedial tibia, contusion, no fracture line
    I will be rechecking with the orthopedic in 9 days, but was wondering what your overall clinical impression of my history and clinical findings are with respect to treatment (surgical vs. medical management) and recovery time to previous athletic ability. Thank You for your opinion. Jen

    1. So… As I always say .. treat the patient, not the MRI. You have a degenerative knee due to your old meniscus tear and ACL. It’s very unlikely that your lateral tear is new but who knows. It’s even more unlikely that it can be repaired. Given the nature of your injury and the impact the bone bruise sounds like it might be the cause of your pain… and exam should tell you that. Strong reason to consider Rest, PT, etc for a while before considering anything invasive …

  8. Dear Dr. Luks,

    I am Battalion Chief in the FDNY, and I was struck by a car resulting in a “Complex (primarily horizontal) tear of the posterior horn and adjacent body of the medial meniscus” (MRI report). My symptoms initially were moderate swelling, moderate pain, as well as pain during deep knee bends. It has been over two months now and my pain is mostly gone, and my range of motion is improved but still somewhat painful. I can walk, run, and ride a bike without pain. However, I can not touch my heal to my buttocks. On my last visit to HSS, the doctor found very light swelling with the “wave” test.

    The doctor is recommending partial menisectomy. Considering that my symptoms have improved greatly in just a couple of months, is it possible I could be pain free with full range of motion in say a year’s time without surgery? What is the likelihood that I could avoid surgery and still be pain free?

    1. Hi Chief ! First … as a fellow New Yorker, thanks for all you do!
      Next … Clearly meniscus tears are not an emergent procedure. The decision to proceed with surgery is mostly a quality of life decision. It does not sound like your quality of life is significantly enough effected at this time to consider surgery… especially a partial menisectomy. Many of us are now repairing many horizontal cleavage tears, and the research shows that it is effective quite often. That leaves the possibility of you maintaining your meniscus volume. Still .. Unless your tear is bothering you significantly, then non-surgical management remains a good option.
      Feel free to pop up to Westchester if you ever want to review your options further.
      Again … thanks for all you and your colleagues do!
      Howard Luks

  9. Hi Dr. Luks,
    I am very unsure whether I am making the right decision to have arthroscopic surgery. I have the typical “small undersurface horizontal oblique tear of the posterior horn of the medial meniscus.” I have clicking feelings in my knee and pain that comes and goes. I am 55 y/o and not extremely active. It was up to me to decide whether to have the surgery, but I put the decision in my orthopedic doctor’s hands because I figure he knows better than I do. So, he said I would benefit from arthroscopy to remove the torn piece. Do you agree?

  10. Hi Dr Luks, firstly thank you so very much to put out so much useful information in the public domain. I”m 48 years old and recently an MRI revealed a Grade 3 tear in the posterior horn of the medial meniscus of my left knee (I am right handed). While I have read through several questions you have answered in this forum,
    I’m seeking specific guidance on whether you believe that physio treatment can get me fit enough to play golf and squash, 2 sports which are very much an integral part of my life, and sense of well being. I’m of course asking this from the perspective of determining if I have a chance of avoiding arthroscopic surgery. Many thanks.

  11. Dear Dr Luks,
    You are a legend! Thanks for putting all this information on your site. After reading all the information and your thoughts, I have decided to avoid surgery and try physical therapy, diet and non impact exercise to repair my torn meniscus(on both knees. Happened at the same time too, pre marathon). It’s worth a try, at the least

    FYI, the summary from the MRI reads;

    Left knee- This one feels fine by the way!
    1.Medial meniscal tear, with both radial tearing and horizontal tearing of the posterior horn and posterior body.
    2.Mild chondrial thinning at the posterior aspect medial tibial plateau with minimal subarticular signal change.
    3. Partial thickness fissuring of the medial patellar facet.
    4. Intercondylar notch ganglion associated with ACL which is minimally hyper intense which may represent an old injury or mild mucoid degeneration. No ACL tear.
    5. Tiny ganglion at the inferior medial margin of the patellar tendon with minor intraosseous extension.


    Right knee- pain on the inside mid line of the knee. Comments not so long!
    1. Non displaced undersurface oblique tear at the junction ofd the body and posterior horn with a small radial component.
    2. Moderate chondromalacia patella

    Well there you go. Wish me luck Dr Luks! 😀

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