More Singaporeans are beginning to realise the importance of exercise and leading an active lifestyle. And according to Dr Jeffrey Chew, an orthopaedic surgeon at Mount Elizabeth Hospital, who has over 20 years of experience treating osteoarthritic ailments including knee problems, this increase in osteoarthritis is due to young Singaporeans taking up sports.
What is knee arthritis
Knee arthritis, a condition generally associated with old age, happens when the knee cartilage becomes worn out.
The knee joint consists of three main compartments, and the cartilage on each compartment ensures smooth movement of the joints; osteoarthritis occurs when this cartilage is worn down as a result of wear and tear.
But premature arthritis, according to Dr Chew though, usually happens in one compartment in the knee, unlike the osteoarthritis in elderly patients which involves all three of the knee compartments.
23.7% of young Singaporeans have chronic joint problems
According to a 2007 National Health Surveillance Survey by the Ministry Of Health, 23.7% of adult Singaporeans aged between 18 and 50 suffer from arthritis or other chronic joint problems. This is an increase from 2001’s statistics of 7.4 per cent of adults between 18 and 64 having such problems.
So Dr Chew feels that some of these Singaporeans will require knee replacement in the future to regain their mobility.
Knee replacement surgery in young Singaporeans is different to the conventional treatment
Knee replacement surgery however, for younger arthritis patients, is not the same as the conventional treatment for elderly patients according to Dr Chew. Osteoarthritis is usually treated through a total knee replacement procedure whereby the knee joint is removed and replaced by an implant made from mental and high density plastic.
But in young patients, whose arthritis is caused by sports injuries, a partial knee replacement is usually done. This allows the surgeon to replace only the damaged portion of the knee, sparing the remainder. Using robotic technology, the surgeon can place the implant directly into the affected part of the knee with a high level of precision. This robotic method also results in greater accuracy than manual techniques, so ensuring that healthy parts of the bones are not damaged in the procedure.
Can return to vigorous sports after a partial knee replacement
After a partial knee operation, young patients can also usually return to vigorous sports such as running; Dr Chew also that the knee also should not feel any different after surgery.
This is quite different to a total knee replacement surgery where patients are not advised to do vigorous activity but can return to low impact sports such as walking and golf three months later. This, according to Dr Chew, is to reduce the wear and tear on the new joint and the risk of the implants loosening.
This information was brought to you by Mount Elizabeth Hospitals, Singapore.
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