Experiencing knee pain? No matter your age, knee pain is a common affliction in Singapore, affecting people of all walks of life. One study found that nearly half of elderly Singaporeans suffer from knee pain, with the majority of patients sadly choosing to bear with the pain or self-medicate instead of seeking medical treatment.
Beyond the usual aches, knee pain can often be accompanied by redness, warmth, swelling, instability, and popping or crunching noises. Knee pain may also vary in severity, from pain only when performing certain motions such as climbing up and down stairs, to constant pain even at rest. While it is a prevalent age-related condition, knee problems can arise for numerous reasons.
Common Causes of Knee Pain
There are many possible causes for knee pain, but they can be broadly divided into three main categories: injuries, medical conditions (predominantly musculoskeletal), and chronic conditions or overuse.
ACL stands for anterior cruciate ligament, which connects the thigh bone to the shinbone. ACL tears are common sports injuries that occur during sudden stops or rapid changes in direction when moving. They are frequently caused by high-impact physical activities such as football and basketball.
One accidental misstep and you could find yourself with a knee fracture, also known as a patella or patellar fracture. You might know of the patella as the kneecap, which sits at the front of the knee, causing it to be vulnerable to injury. The bone can be broken by direct impact to the knee joint such as falling. Stress fractures (small cracks in the bone) can potentially also occur in one’s knees, typically among long-distance runners and athletes.
Knee fracture treatment usually depends on how severe the injury is. Minor fractures can be treated with a simple cast or splint, while severe injuries may need surgery.
The meniscus is a tough cartilage that lies between the shinbone and thighbone, which absorbs shock. It can be torn by twisting or rotating your knee, leading to knee pain and swelling.
Just like dislocated shoulders, dislocated kneecaps are relatively common injuries that occur when the patella slips out of place or when the thigh and shinbone become disconnected. The first line of treatment by a healthcare provider is to pop the joint back into place through a process called reduction.
2. Medical Conditions
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune condition that can affect any joint, knees included. It causes pain, inflammation and swelling, with treatment options including medication, physical therapy and surgery.
Although gout occurs more commonly in the big toe, it can also affect the knees. It is a painful type of inflammatory arthritis that develops when your body contains high levels of uric acid.
Septic arthritis occurs when the knee joint becomes infected, leading to pain, swelling, and fever. It can be caused by several types of bacteria and viruses, thus immediate treatment with antibiotics is crucial.
3. Chronic Conditions
If you run, cycle or play sports with lots of jumping, you might just have patellar tendinitis — the inflammation of the tendons linking your kneecap to the shinbone. Also known as jumper’s knee, it is usually caused by repetitive motions like running and cycling.
Osteoarthritis is the result of natural wear and tear of the knee cartilage over time. The condition is so prevalent in Singapore that 96% of knee replacement surgeries are due to osteoarthritis, with more and more younger individuals getting this common form of arthritis.
Caring For Your Knees
Knees play a major role in our mobility. While it’s normal to experience wear and tear as we age, it is still vital to adopt good habits to maintain your knee health from early on. Some ways to look after your knees include losing weight, building muscle strength, and exercising smartly, which means not exceeding your body’s limit and switching to lower-impact activities if necessary.
If you experience knee pain, treatments in Singapore will range from medication, physical therapy and injections to partial or total knee replacement surgery. Hence, taking good care of your knee joints or seeking medical help early can help prevent knee pain and prolong the healthy function of your knees. For more information on knee conditions and treatments, please reach out to us at OrthofootMD.