Knee Anatomy

The Inside Story

Your knee is a complex joint made up of three different bones—the thigh bone (femur), shin bone (tibia), and knee cap (patella)—as well as different types of cartilage and important ligaments that connect the shin and thigh bones.
Cartilage protects the joint and aids in movement. There are two types of cartilage in the knee:
  • The meniscus is made up of two crescent-shaped wedges that act as a cushion between the thigh bone and the shin bone in your knee.
  • Articular cartilage is the durable tissue that covers the ends of bones. It provides a smooth and impact-resistant surface to help you during activities such as walking, kneeling, running, and jumping.
Position your mouse over the terms in the knee anatomy tool below to view the illustrated definitions.