Receptors in the knee joint ligaments and their role in the biomechanics of the joint

Crit Rev Biomed Eng. 1991;18(5):341-68.


The knee joint ligaments contain Ruffini, Pacinian, Golgi, and free-nerve endings with different capabilities of providing the CNS with information about movement and position as well as about noxious events. Skeletomotor neurons (alpha-motoneurons) are known to be influenced only very rarely and weakly from low-threshold mechanoreceptors in the ligaments, while the effects on the tau-muscle-spindle system in the muscles around the knee are so potent that even ligament stretches at very low loads may induce major changes in the responses of the muscle spindle afferents. Since the primary muscle spindle afferents participate in the regulation of muscular stiffness, the receptors in the knee joint ligaments probably contribute, via the tau-muscle-spindle system, to preparatory adjustment (pre-setting) of the stiffness of the muscles around the knee joint, and thereby to the joint stiffness and the functional joint stability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / physiology
  • Animals
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / innervation
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Elasticity
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / physiology*
  • Ligaments, Articular / injuries
  • Ligaments, Articular / physiology*
  • Mechanoreceptors / physiology*
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Posterior Cruciate Ligament / innervation