Almost half of elderly Singaporeans suffer from knee pain, according to a small local survey, but a significant proportion avoid seeking treatment, citing pain as one of the side effects of age or the cost of medical care.
“Patients choosing to limp around and delay treatment can worsen their condition,” said Dr. Kevin Yip, Singapore Renowned Orthopaedic Surgeon.
The survey included 210 Singaporeans aged 50-69 years, of which 42 percent experienced knee pain, many for 5 years or more. Of the 53 percent who sought treatment, most said they consulted their general practitioner while others consulted polyclinic doctors, Chinese physicians or private specialists.
The most common self-treatment methods were pain relieving creams or oils and herbs. The most common prescribed supplements like glucosamine, and traditional Chinese medicines.
However, advanced knee pain may be the result of osteoarthritis, in which the cartilage cushion between joints bones wears away, resulting in painful bone-on-bone contact during movement.
Non-surgical treatments include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids or viscosupplementation with injectable materials such as hyaluronic acid that provide cushioning in the joint area to reduce pain and prolong time until surgery.
Knee surgery can still be an eventuality but 45 percent of survey respondents were unwilling to go for surgery because of the costs, the time necessary for rehabilitation and the pain involved.
The number of knee replacement surgeries per year in Singapore has more than doubled over the past decade, up from 700 in 2000 to 2,000 in 2011.
We are trying to compare the effects of hyaluronaic acid injections on osteoarthritic knees undergoing microfracture to attempt to repair some of the cartilage versus the effects of a combination of hyaluronic acid and mesenchymal stem cell injections.
There is nothing that can regenerate the cartilage, but injectable treatments do alleviate pain and may improve quality of life.