Knee pain, a prevalent issue across age groups, can stem from injuries like ligament tears, cartilage damage, and medical conditions including arthritis. Self-care suffices for mild cases, but in some instances, medical intervention is necessary. The pain can manifest abruptly post-injury or exercise, or it can also progress gradually. Knee injuries, such as ligament sprains, meniscus tears, and tendinitis, are common, potentially recurring if not properly treated. Varied causes of knee pain distinguish younger, more active individuals with ligament and tendon issues from older individuals afflicted with worn joint-related conditions like osteoarthritis, causing difficulties in daily activities and mobility.
Orthopaedic doctors, also known as orthopaedic surgeons or knee pain doctors, specialize in the care of bones, joints, ligaments, nerves, and tendons that collectively constitute the musculoskeletal system. They diagnose and treat injuries resulting from physical activity, manage progressive conditions like arthritis, and address overuse injuries. Their responsibilities encompass diagnosing musculoskeletal issues, aiding in rehabilitation post-injury or surgery, and devising preventive strategies for injuries and chronic conditions. Some orthopaedic doctors choose to specialize in various subspecialty areas within the field.
Knee pain can manifest alongside a range of diverse symptoms, varying from person to person. These symptoms encompass swelling, which can arise immediately after injury or gradually from extended use, often indicating internal knee issues; painful clicking sounds, potentially signifying torn structures like cartilage or meniscus, though painless clicking is common and generally harmless; knee stiffness, occasionally linked with swelling but sometimes occurring on its own, usually signalling an underlying serious knee problem; a sensation of the knee easily giving way, prevalent in those with ligament injuries or weakened muscles from inactivity; and instances of the knee becoming locked in one position, frequently attributed to meniscus tears. The loss of knee function becomes especially noticeable during activities such as stair climbing or squatting, rendering such actions difficult or impossible for individuals with knee problems.
Knee pain can originate from various sources, including ligament injuries, cartilage problems, meniscus damage, muscle and tendon inflammation, and bone issues. The most common knee pain is felt at the front or inside of the knee, while injuries to the meniscus or muscles might cause pain at the back of the knee. Initially, knee pain typically occurs during activity, but as conditions worsen, pain can persist even without movement. The knee’s major ligaments (anterior and posterior cruciate, medial and lateral collateral), joint cartilage, menisci, muscles, tendons, and bone can all contribute to knee pain.
Knee pain in younger individuals often arises from sports-related injuries, often involving twisting motions or lateral impacts to the knee. These injuries can lead to ligament damage, including the crucial anterior cruciate ligament, meniscus tears that might cause locking, and cartilage injuries often related to patella dislocations. Additionally, overused tendons in younger patients can result in pain and swelling, typically around the front of the knee. On the other hand, knee pain in older individuals, usually above 60 years of age, is frequently linked to worn-out knee joints due to osteoarthritis. This condition involves extensive cartilage loss, causing pain, stiffness, and a decline in knee function, affecting activities like stair climbing and squatting. Contrary to the misconception that knee pain is exclusive to the elderly, it’s evident that younger people can also experience knee issues, primarily through injuries and overuse.
When evaluating knee pain, patients go through a medical interview and focused knee examination to gather information about their condition. This guides the doctor in understanding the underlying issue. Additional steps might involve plain knee X-rays and standing leg X-rays to assess leg alignment. In cases of suspected ligament or meniscal damage, patients might be recommended for an MRI scan.
Tailored treatment plans are offered based on individual conditions, encompassing a range of options for knee-related issues, whether surgical or non-surgical. Treatment approaches include medication for pain management, lifestyle adjustments to manage knee pain, knee bracing for protection and support, physiotherapy for improved function and movement, pain-relieving procedures and injections, ligament surgery to facilitate a return to sports, keyhole knee surgery for meniscus and cartilage injury repair, and knee replacement solutions designed for severe knee osteoarthritis cases.
It’s important to have an orthopaedic surgeon diagnose all injuries, as even mild knee injuries may require medical attention. For initial care of an injured knee, consider these suggestions:
If your knee pain came from an injury or if you experience symptoms like swelling, redness, tenderness, warmth around the joint, pain, or even a fever, it’s advisable to make an appointment with your orthopaedic surgeon. Similarly, if you’ve been grappling with minor knee pain for a while and it escalates to the point where it hinders your regular activities or sleep, it’s a good idea to schedule a consultation with your doctor. Seeking medical attention in these situations can help ensure proper assessment and appropriate management of your knee pain.
Physiotherapy for Chronic Knee Pain Management
Physiotherapists offer education and guidance, providing insights into daily aspects like posture, lifting techniques, and injury prevention. They also offer personalized exercise recommendations to enhance overall health, mobility, and strengthen specific areas of the body. Manual therapy, involving hands-on techniques to alleviate pain and stiffness and promote improved bodily movement, is also part of their repertoire. Additionally, supplementary approaches like hydrotherapy and acupuncture might occasionally be employed to complement the treatment process.
Knee pain is prevalent among various age groups and can arise from injuries and medical conditions. While self-care suits mild cases, specialized orthopaedic doctors play a vital role in diagnosing and treating severe cases. Younger individuals can experience knee pain from sports injuries, while older individuals often suffer from osteoarthritis. Consulting an orthopaedic surgeon is crucial, particularly if symptoms like swelling and pain persist.
Individualized treatment plans for knee problems encompass a variety of options, spanning medication, lifestyle modifications, knee bracing, physiotherapy, pain procedures, ligament surgery, keyhole surgery for meniscus and cartilage issues, and knee replacement for severe osteoarthritis. Both surgical and non-surgical solutions are available to address specific needs.
If you can maintain a healthy weight, engage in low-impact exercises, practice proper posture, and avoid activities that strain the knees, it can positively impact your knee health and overall mobility.
Yes, physiotherapy is often recommended for patients experiencing knee pain. It is part of treatment plans, which can also include medications and surgical or non-surgical methods. Physiotherapists provide education, personalized exercises, manual therapy, and supplementary approaches like hydrotherapy and acupuncture to improve health, mobility, and prevent injuries.
An orthopaedic surgeon can diagnose the cause of your medical condition. The evaluation of knee pain involves a medical interview, knee examination, X-rays, and potentially MRI scans to determine the underlying cause, including issues with alignment, ligaments, or meniscus.
The Orthopaedic and Pain Practice is here to address your musculoskeletal needs. Our team is well-versed in addressing a variety of orthopaedic conditions through minimally-invasive techniques and traditional surgery. At The Orthopaedic & Pain Practice, we know that pain can limit your pursuit of health. Let us help you relieve your pain and restore motion to your life.
Dr Yong Ren graduated from the National University of Singapore’s Medical faculty and embarked on his orthopaedic career soon after. Upon completion of his training locally, he served briefly as an orthopaedic trauma surgeon in Khoo Teck Puat hospital before embarking on sub-specialty training in Switzerland at the famed Inselspital in Bern.
He underwent sub-specialty training in pelvic and spinal surgery, and upon his return to Singapore served as head of the orthopaedic trauma team till 2019. He continues to serve as Visiting Consultant to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.
Well versed in a variety of orthopaedic surgeries, he also served as a member of the country council for the local branch of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Osteosynthesefragen (Trauma) in Singapore. He was also involved in the training of many of the young doctors in Singapore and was appointed as an Assistant Professor by the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine. Prior to his entry into the private sector, he also served as core faculty for orthopaedic resident training by the National Healthcare Group.
Dr Yong Ren brings to the table his years of experience as a teacher and trainer in orthopaedic surgery. With his expertise in minimally invasive fracture surgery, pelvic reconstructive surgery, hip and knee surgery as well as spinal surgery, he is uniquely equipped with the tools and expertise necessary to help you on your road to recovery.