If a painful injury is impeding your exercise routine, you’ll want to read this. From knee replacement surgery to broken bones, DR TAN SOK CHUEN, director of the Hip & Knee Orthopaedics clinic in Novena, sets the record straight on some of the most common orthopaedic misconceptions that could be keeping you from leading an active lifestyle.
Orthopaedic myth #1: “It can’t be broken because I can walk on it”
At our orthopaedics clinic, we have certainly seen patients walk on broken bones. Some parts of the body have more than two bones supporting a joint; for example, the ankle joint. If one of the bones is broken, a patient can still walk on the affected limb, especially if the fracture is a hairline crack. This, however, does not mean that it’s safe to continue walking on it, or that it can be ignored. A fracture can further displace or fail to heal properly. Prompt treatment is recommended; this is especially important in preventing an accelerated onset of osteoarthritis.
Orthopaedic myth #2: “If I can ‘power through’ my knee pain, it can’t be that bad”
It is physically possible for some people to “power through” the pain of a serious knee condition. This could be due to an adrenaline rush during training or those sensory nerves haven’t yet processed the pain. However, it’s definitely not recommended. “Powering through” the knee pain can potentially worsen the condition.
Orthopaedic myth #3: “I’m too young for a knee replacement”
This is not totally wrong. Even with the best technology, the reported lifespan of the best artificial joint is about 30 years. This means that if you get a knee replacement in your 20s, you might require another surgery in your lifetime. So, if someone in their 20s or 30s is already suffering from end-stage osteoarthritis, we would encourage physiotherapy or lifestyle modifications first.
Fortunately, instances of such young patients with stage-four osteoarthritis are very rare. And, most cases with cartilage injuries can be treated with cartilage repair surgery rather than a knee replacement surgery.
The typical age range of a patient with severe osteoarthritis that we would offer a knee replacement to is between 50 and 80 years. However, it’s a case-by-case thing and really depends on the severity of symptoms and the functional limitations. For instance, if a man in his late 40s is already suffering from end-stage osteoarthritis and requires regular high doses of painkillers to carry out his daily activities, a knee replacement should be considered if other treatment options like physiotherapy have not been successful.
Orthopaedic myth #4: “I won’t be able to walk properly or do a squat after a knee replacement”
This is definitely a myth. Knee replacement patients should be able to walk better after the knee replacement surgery! The ability to squat, however, really depends on different factors.
While the design of most artificial knee joints allow for deep bending movements, being able to squat and stand up from it requires soft tissue flexibility and muscle strength around the knee. If a patient has endured many years of pain and limited flexion before coming for surgery, the joint may be tight and require post-op rehabilitation before any deep squatting can be attempted. This means that a certain level of commitment and effort is also required from the patient if squatting is the objective they wish to achieve.
The good news is that our orthopaedics clinic has quite a number of patients who are able to do full squats after knee replacement surgery – so it’s a very possible end point!
Hip & Knee Orthopaedics clinic is located at#09-21 Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre, 38 Irrawaddy Road. 8884 1642 | hipkneeortho.com.sg
This article first appeared in the January 2022 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!