3. Function

The patella is basically a fulcrum, a point at which a lever can turn or receive support; the lever, in this case, is the quadriceps muscle. With the help of the patella, the quadriceps tendon can exert leverage on the femur through flexion and extension, increasing the muscle's strength by as much as 50 percent. The patella ensures more even distribution of forces to associated bones, and it also shields the knee joint from direct fracture.

patellofemoral tibiofemoral Jan-Otto / Getty Images

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