Knees and elbows are hinge joints that evolved to create back and forth movement of the limb. In the knee’s case, it allows the lower leg to bend back. In the elbow’s case, the forearm bends up, towards the face. While both joints allow some sort of rotation of the limb, these joints don’t take twisting motions very well. And this is where evolution bumps up against human sports and we’re sorry to say, knees and elbows take a lot of punishment.
Those Darn Knee Injuries
While neither knees nor elbows are particularly strong and hardy joints, knees tend to take more punishment because of the weight that’s put on them. For every one pound of weight someone gains, that equals four pounds of pressure on the knees! These leg joints can easily be damaged just from bodyweight alone. If one does high-impact sports such as running or anything that involves a lot of jumping and landing on the feet, that can add more stress to the knees.
With high-impact sports, come other knee injuries, such as ACL tears and torn menisci. These tend to come from twisting the knee. One thing interesting about ACL tears is that women are more at risk due to a multitude of reasons, including anatomical (a shorter ACL), hormonal, genetic, and positional (having wider hips and thus having different weight distribution on the knees when women walk).
The Funniest Thing About Elbows…
While elbows don’t bear the weight of the body, they do get banged into random things – bookshelf corners, tables, subway poles, you name it. That funny, tingling feeling you get is not the funny bone, which by the way, doesn’t exist, it’s the ulnar nerve. This nerve is fairly unprotected compared to other nerves in your body, so any banging will set it off. This isn’t an injury, it’s just the funniest thing about the elbow.
Most elbow injuries come from overuse, such as tennis elbow. This can happen to tennis players or anyone doing repetitive motions in their arms and wrists. The tendons in the elbow get overloaded and they hurt. Usually, the cure for mild tennis elbow is just to rest and relax and take the work off the elbow for a while until it recovers.
Check Out Our Jewelry Joint
Our jewelry joint, also known as our online store, has a collection of many different types of bones and joints. But if you particularly enjoyed this newsletter on knees and elbows, you’ll love our knee and elbow pieces. Purchase them for yourself or for a friend. They also make great gifts for orthopedic surgeons, athletes, physical therapists, and starry-eyed pre-med students.
written by Science with Evie