Knowing what makes up the knee joint may help you understand what causes knee pain. The knee is the joint that connects the thighbone, shinbone, and kneecap (patella). Cartilage, ligaments, menisci, and tendons are also involved.
Cartilage is the slick substance that covers the ends of the bones in the knee. It allows the bones to rub against or pass smoothly over each other as the leg bends and straightens. The menisci act as shock absorbers and cushions between the femur and tibia. Ligaments connect the bones and provide stability to the knee. Ligament damage can occur as a result of overuse, such as in sports, or as a result of a traumatic injury.
Tendons are connective tissues that connect the muscles in the leg to the bones that they control. When all of these pieces work together, the knee works properly and the person can move around freely.