Common Knee Injuries To Watch Out For

Knee Injuries in Singapore

Knee injuries comprise a wide range of conditions that affect the knee joint, including sprains, strains, fractures, dislocations, and ligament tears. A knee injury can be caused by traumatic events such as falls, accidents, and sports injuries; and may also arise from overuse or degeneration. Older adults and athletes are more likely to sustain knee injuries.

What are Some Common Knee Injuries?

Common knee injuries in Singapore include:

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tear - This occurs when the ligament that helps stabilise the joints tears due to abnormal twisting motions when one lands or abruptly changes direction.
  • Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Tear - This refers to a partial or complete tear of the ligament which connects the thigh bone (femur) with the shinbone (tibia).
  • Meniscus Tear - This is a tear in the shock absorbers of the knee that serves as a cushion for the knee joint. Commonly meniscus tears are a result of the knees twisting with the feet still planted firmly on the ground. Sometimes degenerative meniscus tears occur due to repetitive activity.
  • Patellar Tendinitis or Jumper’s Knee - This occurs when the tendon connecting the shinbone (tibia) and kneecap (patella) becomes inflamed as a result of repetitive jumping and running.
  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome - This condition is characterised by pain in the front of the knee due to overuse, a misaligned kneecap, or weak muscles. Patients usually report knee cap pain on activities such as stair climbing and descent or pain.
  • Knee Bursitis - The bursae are fluid-filled sacs that reduce friction between tissues in the knee joint. Inflammation of the bursae can occur from overuse, excessive kneeling, or direct impact.
  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) - The iliotibial (IT) band is found along the outer side of the thigh and is connected to the knee. With overuse and repeated friction, ITBS can occur.
  • Knee Dislocation - This occurs as a result of severe trauma, and causes the bones of the knee joint to become displaced. It is often very painful and can also cause damage to surrounding structures.
  • Knee Fractures - This usually affects either the kneecap (patella), thigh bone (femur) and shin bone (tibia), and are often the result of falls, collisions, or excess stress on the knee joint.

What are the Symptoms of a Knee Injury?

Knee injuries can cause a wide range of symptoms, depending on their type and severity. Common knee injury symptoms include:

  • Pain - This may be sharp or dull and can occur in any part of the knee.
  • Swelling - This can range from mild to severe, resulting in stiffness and difficulty moving the knee.
  • Stiffness - This prevents the knee from fully bending or straightening.
  • Instability - An injured knee can make the knee feel unsteady, resulting in difficulty standing or walking.
  • Popping or clicking sounds - Some knee injuries may cause clicking or popping sounds when the knee is moved.
  • Bruising - Some injuries result in discoloration around the injured part of the knee, due to damage to the blood vessels causing bleeding under the skin.
  • Limited range of motion - Knee injuries often restrict joint movement, making it difficult to walk, run, or climb stairs.

What are Some Non-Surgical Treatments for Knee Injuries?

These are usually considered for milder cases of knee injuries, and may include:

  • Rest - Resting the knee sufficiently and refraining from activities that exacerbate the pain or injury can reduce swelling and promote healing.
  • Ice Therapy - Applying an ice pack appropriately as advised by a doctor can help to reduce pain and swelling of the knee.
  • Physiotherapy - A physiotherapist can design a customized rehabilitation programme to help strengthen the knee muscles, increase mobility, and relieve pain.
  • Bracing or taping - Bracing the knee provides knee joint stability and support, reduces pain, and prevents further damage.
  • Medications - Over-the-counter pain medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroid injections, may relieve knee joint stiffness.
Knee Pain

What are Some Surgical Treatments for Knee Injuries?

Depending on the type and severity of injury, surgical options may be needed. These may include:

  • Knee Replacement Surgery - This procedure is usually performed on patients with advanced arthritis or severe injuries; and it involves replacing the injured knee joint with an artificial one.
  • ACL Reconstruction - During the procedure, the damaged ACL is repaired with a graft derived from the tendon of the kneecap or hamstring.
  • Meniscus repair – Here, the surgeon uses a small camera and specialised instruments to reconstruct a torn meniscus, either by trimming the damaged tissue or suturing it back together.
  • Cartilage repair – Cartilage injuries do not heal on their own. In this procedure, the surgeon utilises techniques such as microfracture, cartilage transfer, bone marrow (stem cell) therapy and scaffolds to repair localised full thickness (full depth) painful cartilage defects (ulcers).
  • Knee arthroscopy - This is a type of keyhole surgery in which a probe with a camera is used to visualise the knee joint structures and reconstruct or remove damaged tissues.

FAQs on Knee Injuries

  • When should I seek medical attention for a knee injury?

    If you experience severe pain and swelling, visible deformity, inability to bear weight on the knee, locking or instability of the knee, see an orthopaedic specialist for prompt diagnosis and treatment before it worsens.

  • How are knee injuries diagnosed?

    This usually involves getting a detailed assessment into your medical history, a physical examination, and imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI scans and CT scans.

  • Can Knee Pain Be a Sign of a More Serious Condition?

    While knee pain is a common complaint, especially after exercising, for example; persistent and severe knee pain may indicate the presence of underlying medical conditions, such as osteoarthritis, a torn meniscus, ligament injuries, and fractures; all of which should be treated before complications arise.

  • How long does it take to recover from a knee injury?

    This will depend on the type and severity of the injury. Mild to moderate knee injuries may take several weeks, whereas severe injuries that required surgery to treat often takes months to heal. Proper adherence to rehabilitation also goes a long way in determining one’s recovery time.

  • Can knee injuries result in long-term complications?

    In some cases, yes, especially if the injury was severe, and/or did not properly heal. Long-term complications may include chronic pain, instability and limited range of motion; but this can be minimized if one seeks treatment promptly and follows through with proper rehabilitation.

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