Today, we are more aware of our general health than ever before in the history of mankind. This can be attributed to the overwhelming number of differing media avenues available to us all. Utilizing media, health awareness and issues are now brought to the attention of everyone, from health advisors, organizations, charities and hospitals, we are now better informed than we have ever been.
It is easy to feel bombarded with advice on illness, disease, accident, injury and diet, on the levels of both advice and treatment. However, there remains some areas of our health which do seem to be underrepresented amongst the plethora of available information. Perhaps unintentionally, little coverage is given to one of the most crucial, mobility enabling, parts of the human body. The knees.
It is due to the unrealized importance and complexities, and the somewhat lack of specialist expertise, that Samitivej Hospital now has a dedicated center of excellence that is solely concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions affecting the knee joints.
The Human Knee
The knee joint is the point at which the bones of the upper and lower legs meet, and is the largest single joint in the body. The knee is, ostensibly, a hinge which enables you to walk, run, sit, squat, or jump. Or indeed, to simply stand upright.
This essential joint is the juncture of three bones, they being the femur, the upper leg bone, or thigh bone. The tibia, which is the bone at the front of the lower leg, or shin bone. The third bone is the patella, this is a thick, triangular shaped bone that acts as a cover over the other bones at the front of the knee, commonly referred to as the kneecap.
The human knee, although seemingly simple in function, is in fact a highly complex joint within the body. The knee is classified as a bi-condylar type of synovial joint. Primarily, this allows for flexion and extension movement, along with a small degree of medial and lateral rotation.
What Can Go Wrong?
People that are active in numerous sports leave themselves vulnerable to injuring the knee. Heavy impact, twisting and turning of the knee joint, or simple excessive use, noy only exasperates the wear and tear on the joint, but can lead to injuries of vastly varying degrees.
Some of the common injuries include fractures. Fractures often occur due to falls, or in impact sports. But fractures can occur outside of sporting activities, particularly in those people whose bones may have been weakened by conditions such as osteoporosis. In such cases fractures can occur even by the most innocuous of knee movements.
Amongst sports enthusiasts, anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, injuries are common. The ACL is one of the four ligaments in the knee which connects the shine bone, or tibia, to thigh bone, the femur. These injuries normally take the form of a tear, which at the moment of injury can be extremely painful.
Between the shin bone and the thigh bone there is a cartilage known as the meniscus. This acts as a shock absorber between the two bones. The meniscus is a tough, almost rubber like cartilage. When the knee joint is twisting whilst also having downward force imposed upon it, typical in many sports activities, the cartilage can easily tear.
Inflammation and irritation of the patella tendon is common amongst cyclists, runner, skiers and any other activity that cause the person to kick, run or jump. This is referred to as patella tendonitis and can occur when there is an injury to the patella tendon, which connects the shin bone to the patella, or kneecap.
To enable the tendons and ligaments to flex smoothly over the knee joint, small sacs of cushioning fluid, known as bursae, are situated on the outside of the joint. Injury can cause the bursae to become inflamed; this is known as knee bursitis. An affected bursae may cause swelling and tenderness, and can be painful.
Arthritis and the Knee
Arthritis is a very common affliction, more with the elderly, but not exclusive to them. Arthritis affects millions of people across the world and the are in excess of a hundred different types of the condition. Of the many differing types of arthritis, the knee joint is prone to five of them.
Rheumatoid arthritis, which is the most debilitating of them all, is an autoimmune condition. Although rheumatoid arthritis is classified as a chronic disease, it can come and go. Sufferers can experience nothing for long periods, followed by episodes that can be debilitating, particularly when affecting the knees. It can also be painful and has a vast spectrum of severity.
Degenerative arthritis, more commonly known as osteoarthritis, is the most common of all. Simply, this is a condition bought about by wear and tear. As a result of excessive, heavy use, and, or, old age, the effectiveness of the cartilage is diminished, thus bringing about the condition of osteoarthritis.
Although rare, septic arthritis is a very serious condition that occurs when the knee joint has become infected. The damage that this condition can cause to the knee’s cartilage is immense, and usually irreversible. Septic arthritis will usually cause swelling, pain and fever and must be a brought to the attention of a medical professional immediately.
Many people don’t realize that gout is a form of arthritis. This affliction occurs when there is a build up of acid crystals in the knee joint, although gout is normally associated with the big toe, it is not uncommon in the knees.
Often confused with gout, is pseudogout. Whereas gout is the build up of acid crystals, pseudogout is the build up of crystals that contain calcium. The knee joints are the most common joint in which pseudogout is to be found.
Specialist Diagnostics and Treatment
Such are the complexities of the knee joint, and the many and varied problems that can beset it, highly specialist medical professionals are required to accurately diagnose and treat the myriad of afflictions that can occur.
It is with this in mind that Samitivej Hospital created their specialist Knee Health Center. Samitivej Hospital has, long since, been at the forefront in the development of diagnostics and treatments for knee joint health issues. And, on the international scene, they work hand in hand with Takatsuki General Hospital in Japan.
Takatsuki General Hospital and Samitivej Hospital are both world renown medical institutions, and together they continue to develop new systems and techniques which push the boundaries of knowledge and treatments of knee joint afflictions.