When you think of knee pain, you might think of an injury from playing sports or an accident. But did you know that cartilage damage in the knee can also be a common cause of pain and stiffness?
Cartilage is the smooth and rubbery tissue that cushions the bones in a joint. When it becomes worn and damaged, it can cause pain, stiffness, and make it difficult to move the joint. This can be a real problem for people who are active and enjoy sports, as well as those who have jobs that require kneeling or heavy lifting. When it comes to severe knee cartilage damage, the problem can become big enough to impede daily activities.
In Singapore and around the world, roughly four out of five patients experience limited mobility and one out of four are unable to perform basic daily tasks. In this blog, we will talk about the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for cartilage damage in the knee, as well as some tips to prevent this condition.
Symptoms of Knee Cartilage Damage
Here are some symptoms you should watch out for:
- Pain: Pain around the affected joint is the most common sign of knee cartilage damage. It may present as a dull or sharp pain, and can be worse with activity.
- Stiffness: The joint may feel stiff and difficult to move. This can make it hard to perform everyday activities, such as climbing stairs or getting up from a chair.
- Locking or giving way: The knee may feel as though it is giving way or locking, making it hard to walk or stand.
- Popping or cracking sounds: You may hear a popping or cracking sound when the joint is moved, which can be a sign of cartilage damage.
- Swelling: The knee may become swollen or tender to the touch.
Causes of Knee Cartilage Damage
There are a few things that can cause cartilage damage in the knee area. Trauma, like a fall or accident, can do it. So can overusing the joint in sports or other physical activities. Other risks include being overweight, which puts extra stress on the joints, and having certain medical conditions like osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
Possible Treatment Options
For those suffering from painful joints caused by cartilage damage, there are a few options.
1. Physical therapy
Physical therapy can help strengthen the muscles around your knee and improve your range of motion. Patients will typically undergo a customised exercise programme which helps to improve strength and flexibility in the knee’s supporting muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings, and hip muscles. The therapist may also teach balance and coordination techniques to reduce the risk of falls and accidents.
Medications such as over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs can help with the pain and inflammation. Medications like over-the-counter pain relievers can help with the pain. In Singapore, medical professionals such as a cartilage specialist may also prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs or administer corticosteroid injections to ease the inflammation and reduce flare-ups.
At times, surgery may be necessary to repair or remove damaged knee cartilage. One type of surgery for cartilage damage is called arthroscopy. It is a procedure where a small camera is inserted into the joint through a small incision. The orthopaedic surgeon can then view the joint and fix or remove any problematic tissue.
Another surgical procedure which may be offered is osteotomy, where the bone is cut and shifted to take pressure off the damaged cartilage. Cartilage cell implantation surgery can also be considered – this involves the implant of healthy cartilage cells into the damaged region.
How to Prevent Knee Cartilage Damage
To help prevent cartilage damage in the knee in the first place, you can:
- Keep a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly
- Wear shoes with good support and cushioning
- Avoid repetitive motions
Get Rid of Knee Injury or Pain in Singapore
Knee pain may or may not be caused by cartilage damage – it can also lead to more serious issues in the future. Therefore, it is important to seek the advice of a knee specialist at an early stage.
Cartilage damage in the knee can be a real pain (literally!), but there are treatment options to help, from physical therapy to surgery. OrthfootMD is a sports injury and orthopaedic clinic in Singapore that specialises in treating knee cartilage damage. With a wide range of treatments and other orthopaedic related services, our trained and friendly doctors will help you alleviate pain, improve mobility, and prevent further knee injury.
Wear and tear due to ageing is normal, but by taking care of yourself, you can prevent knee cartilage damage from impacting your life. Are you experiencing knee or joint pain, or suffering from conditions such as plantar fasciitis? Speak to us to find out how we can help.