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In addition to the cartilage that covers the bones, the knee joint also contains two crescent-shaped disks of cartilage known as menisci (singular, meniscus), which lie between the lower end of the femur and the upper end of the tibia and act as shock absorbers or cushions.

While some of these factors cannot be avoided, others can be corrected through lifestyle changes: According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), there are about 270,000 knee replacement operations performed each year in the United States.The patella—a triangular bone at the front of the knee—is attached by tendons to the quadriceps muscles of the thigh.This tendon allows a person to straighten the knee.Knee pain resulting from osteoarthritis and other degenerative disorders may develop gradually over a period of years.On the other hand, pain resulting from an athletic injury or other traumatic damage to the knee, or from such conditions as infectious arthritis or gout, may come on suddenly.

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