Frequently Asked Questions
- Is there more than one kind of joint?
Yes, there are three types of joint found in your body.
The first type is called a FIBROUS joint. These allow minimal movement. The best example of this type of joint is the bones of the skull.
The second type is called a CARTILAGINOUS joint. Also known as disc joints, they are found between the vertebrae of the spine.
The third type is called a SYNOVIAL joint. These types comprise what we normally think of as joints. They are found in the upper and lower extremities. The joining ends of bone are covered by cartilage, which is contained in a tissue capsule. The inner lining of the capsule has a synovial membrane made up of cells that produce a fluid that lubricates the joint.
- What is a joint?
A joint is the junction of two or more bones (an articulating hinge), whether movable or not. Examples include the knee joints, the shoulder or elbow joints, as well as the hip joints.
- What are the types of synovial joint motion?
There are six kinds of synovial joint motion (ball and socket, hinge, saddle, ellipsoidal, gliding and pivot).
- Why do bones wear out?
Bones change with age. They become less elastic and more brittle. The joints between bones may become rough as the cartilage wears out.
- What do joints do?
Joints allow bones to move relative to each other, and keep the ends of the bones properly aligned. This allows us to bend our knees, wrists, and digits.
- How do bones grow?
Long bones, like those in your legs and arms, increase in length from growth plates at the end. Bone growth stops when you become an adult.
- What is Arthroscopic Surgery?
Prior to 1970 most joint surgery required large incisions and a prolonged recovery. Fortunately, arthroscopic surgery has completely changed the way joint injuries are treated.
With the aid of an arthroscope, the doctors of Orthopaedic Specialists can easily examine, diagnose, and treat joint problems which, in earlier years, may have been extremely difficult to even identify.
The arthroscope is a small fiber-optic viewing instrument made up of a tiny lens, light source and video camera. The surgical instruments used in arthroscopic surgery are very small (only 3 to 5 mm. in diameter), but are designed to present a magnified picture.
The surgeon inserts the arthroscope into the joint through a tiny incision (about 1/4 of an inch) called a portal. Other portals are used for the insertion of surgical instruments. With small incision sites and direct access to most areas of the joint, the surgeon can diagnose and correct a wide variety of problems such as arthritis and ligament tears. Arthroscopy can also be used in conjunction with open procedures, such as an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Reconstruction, as well as procedures dealing with the shoulder, elbow, wrist, and ankle.
- What Causes Knee Problems?
There are two general kinds of knee problems: Traumatic and inflammatory.
Traumatic Knee Problems
Some knee problems result from a single injury, such as a direct blow or sudden force that shifts the knee beyond its normal range of movement. Other problems, such as osteoarthritis, result from years of wear and tear on the articular cartilage.
Inflammatory Knee Problems
Inflammation that occurs in certain rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus, can damage the knee.
- How Are Knee Problems Diagnosed?
Doctors use several methods to diagnose knee problems.
- Medical history – The patient tells the doctor details about symptoms and about any injury, condition, or general health issues that might be related to the the problem.
- Physical examination – The doctor manipulates and palpates the knee to assess motion, laxity, function and location of pain. The patient may be asked to stand, walk or squat to help the doctor assess the knee’s function.
- Diagnostic tests – The healthcare professionals at OS uses a variety tests to determine the nature of a knee problem.
- X-ray (radiography) – An x-ray beam is passed through the knee to produce a two-dimensional picture of the bones.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – Energy from a powerful magnet (rather than x-ray) stimulates knee tissue to produce signals that are detected by a scanner and analyzed by a computer. This creates a series of cross-sectional images of a specific part of the knee. An MRI is particularly useful for detecting meniscus, ligament, soft tissue damage or disease. Like a CAT scan, a computer is used to produce the images of the knee during MRI.
- Arthroscopy – The doctor manipulates a small, lighted optic tube (arthroscope) that has been inserted into the joint through a small incision in the knee. At this point, the entire joint is inspected. Direct visualization is sometimes necessary for an accurate diagnosis prior to any additional treatment.
- Bone scan (radionuclide scanning) – A very small amount of radioactive material is injected into the patient’s bloodstream and detected by a scanner. This test detects blood flow and bone activity. It can help detect bone tumors, infection and occult fractures.
- Computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan – X-rays lasting a fraction of a second are passed through the knee at different angles, detected by a scanner, and analyzed by a computer. This produces a series of clear cross-sectional images (“slices”) of the knee on a computer screen. CAT scan images show bone and soft tissue detail — more clearly than conventional x rays. The computer can combine individual images to give a three-dimensional view of the knee.
- Arthrogram – A small amount of dye is introduced into the joint prior to an x-ray or CT scan. This results in better outlining and detail in the films.