Patella Bone Anatomy

The knee patella bone or more commonly the patella is a firm small triangular bone that is located in front of the knee joint. The function of the patella cartilage is to protect the front part of the knee. The knee joint undergoes a lot of stress on a daily basis. The knee is utilized in almost every type of activity such as walking, leaping, running, jogging, lifting and so on. The patella located just in front of the knee joint bears the brunt of the stress, serving as a physical barrier. For example when one falls on the knees, it is the patella which absorbs all the trauma and prevents damage to the delicate patella ligaments, muscles and tendons. Any sporting activity done with the legs involves the patella. Even though it appears that the patella is floating, it is actually connected by a series of ligaments to muscles both above and below the knee joint.

The large muscle known as quadriceps femoris located in front of the thigh attaches to the top of the patella. When the lower leg straightens, this strong muscle contracts and pulls the patella upwards. The bottom of the patella is connected to the lower leg by the patella tendon. During walking, the patella is pulled and maintained in its anatomical position by the synchronous activity of the two tendons. There are other patella ligaments which also play a pivotal role in keep the knee laterally and medially stable by keeping the knee cap in its anatomical location.

The knee patella bone also acts as a lever helping to extend the knee joint and also provides solid base for attachment of tendons. In this way, when the muscles contract and pull the patella up, the individual is rapidly able to stand up faster, lift more weights or kick with great force.

The patella cartilage is quite soft in children but by the age of 6 it becomes calcified and hard. There are a few individual who do not have a patella or have a very small patella. When the patella gets injured, it can produce symptoms which may mimic a joint injury.

Patella dislocation is quite common in young female athletes. In such cases the patella slides out of position and may be associated with moderate pain. The dislocation can easily be reduced by gently extending the leg and pushing the patella back into position. When patella dislocation is chronic it may cause knee swelling, pain and inability to fully flex the knee. A knee brace and pain medications may help in treating this dislocation. When conservative methods fail, surgery may be used to relocate the patella. Surgery is only recommended when there is compromised leg function, gross instability and rupture of the tendons. However, most sports experts indicate that non surgical methods should always be used to treat the knee patella bone first.


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