SINGAPORE - The results of a new knee pain survey revealed that 50 per cent of Singaporean residents have previously or currently suffer from chronic knee pain and 73 per cent are at risk of developing knee osteoarthritis in their lifetime due to lifestyle habits.
Of the 50 per cent previously or currently afflicted, only half said they sought treatment from medical professionals.
Even then, most waited until the pain affected their quality of life before visiting the doctor. The survey found that these residents would endure the pain for an average of 13 months before deciding to seek treatment to relieve the pain.
Even with the high rates of chronic knee pain among Singapore residents, 62 per cent are ignorant of knee osteoarthritis - the most common type of osteoarthritis and knee arthritis.
Knee osteoarthritis occurs when the lubricating joint fluid that protects and cushions the bones, allowing the knee to move and bend, gradually deteriorates. Hence, the joint fluid loses its shock-absorbing qualities.
Bones may then begin to rub against each other, causing common symptoms such as pain, stiffness and loss of movement in the joint.
"Knee osteoarthritis starts as knee pain and stiffness, but it can become a very serious condition. If left untreated, joint deformities can start to develop leading to limited mobility and even disability," said Dr Yoon Kam Hon, Rheumatologist at El Shaddai Arthritis and Rheumatism Specialist Medical Centre.
"Young adults are also not exempt from developing this condition," he added.
The survey also revealed that 36 per cent of Singapore residents lead a sedentary lifestyle, which is a leading risk factor for developing knee osteoarthritis.
Early detection is critical in delaying disease progression. Appropriate medical treatment in tandem with lifestyle modification can assist in maintaining the knee's integrity and delay invasive surgery such as total knee replacement, the study said.
The survey was commissioned by Sanofi, a multinational pharmaceutical company, and conducted over a period of four days in Singapore.
"Changes to our lifestyle habits, such as performing moderate low-impact physical activity and medical treatment such as viscosupplementation, can assist in managing chronic pain," said Dr Mohd Nawi Wahid, Head of Scientific Affairs at Sanofi Malaysia and Singapore.
"Viscosupplementation maintains quality of life by mimicking the fluid found in knees providing additional support and cushioning between the opposing bones. It also assists in delaying disease progression because it reduces friction which would further accelerate the condition," he said.