Knee Surgery: Understanding how knee osteoarthritis can be managed and treated

Knee Surgery: Understanding how knee osteoarthritis can be managed and treated

KUALA LUMPUR: Osteoarthritis (OA), a degenerative joint disease experienced by millions worldwide, causes pain, stiffness, and limits movement, often leading to disability due to damage and loss of cartilage within the joints. This condition significantly impacts one’s mobility and quality of life.

Dr. Yuen Jin Chuan, a Consultant in Osteoarthritis, Trauma, Arthroplasty, and Robotic Surgery at Sunway Medical Centre Velocity (SMCV), stated that based on analysis from the Beijing Osteoarthritis Study, Asians including Malaysians are more prone to knee OA due to lifestyle factors such as frequent squatting, which puts more pressure on the knee joints. Additionally, dietary habits, obesity, and work-related activities involving repetitive movements may also influence the frequency of knee OA among Asians.

Dr. Yuen mentioned that knee OA is the most common OA in Malaysia, affecting 10 to 20 percent of adults, especially the elderly. “Aging, a history of joint injury, and certain health conditions increase the risk of joint OA,” he said in a statement to Bernama. He added that engaging in high-impact sports like running, basketball, and tennis can also increase the risk of knee OA among young people, as these activities can subject the joints to excessive stress and repetitive strain, eventually leading to cartilage and joint damage.

Moreover, individuals who have previously experienced joint problems such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or metabolic diseases like diabetes are also at higher risk of developing knee OA. Dr. Yuen mentioned that gender and genetics also contribute to the likelihood of the disease. “A family history of joint disorders or hypermobility (multiple joints) can also increase a person’s vulnerability to knee osteoarthritis,” he said.

In addition, women are more at risk of knee OA compared to men due to hormonal factors and differences in joint biomechanics. Symptoms that require attention include stiffness in the knee, pain when standing or walking short distances, and swelling in the knee joint.

To reduce the risk of knee OA, Dr. Yuen suggests maintaining a healthy weight to reduce strain on the joints and incorporating joint-friendly foods such as fish, green vegetables, nuts, and berries into the diet. “In addition to weight management and a balanced diet, taking supplements such as Omega-3 fatty acids and glucosamine can also help reduce the risk of knee osteoarthritis,” he said.

Dr. Yuen also emphasized the importance of regular exercise to prevent knee OA attacks. “There is a common misconception that moving will worsen osteoarthritis problems and less movement is better. In fact, engaging in low-impact activities such as swimming, cycling, and yoga can help maintain joint flexibility and stability while strengthening muscles without putting too much pressure,” he said.

Dr. Yuen also emphasized the importance of small lifestyle changes such as practicing good posture, being careful when lifting heavy objects, and ensuring an adequate amount of rest.
As for treatment options, Dr. Yuen said there are various treatments for knee OA, ranging from surgery to specific treatments such as medication like chondroitin, steroids, and hyaluronic acid injections to radiofrequency ablation, a minimally invasive procedure targeting nerves around the joint.

“To effectively manage OA in the long term, total knee replacement (TKR) surgery is an available solution if specialized treatments are no longer effective. This can provide long-term relief to patients suffering from severe knee OA and improve joint function,” he said.

He also added another surgical option for knee OA patients, which is robot-assisted MAKO surgery using the MAKO Robotic system, which he said provides precise and personalized surgery based on a specific patient plan designed by the 3D imaging system.

According to Dr. Yuen, MAKO robotic surgery offers significant advantages over total TKR surgery. Conventional TKR can alter normal knee alignment, potentially reducing joint function, but MAKO technology produces natural knee kinematics accurately, realigning and improving joint performance.

He said MAKO technology provides less invasive surgery, thus reducing patient pain levels and recovery time, besides ensuring proper component positioning, thereby reducing implant failure, complications, and future surgeries.

Dr. Yuen also addressed misunderstandings about MAKO technology, such as the perception that the procedure is fully automated by a robot. He explained that doctors control the technology to ensure accurate and personalized surgery with low risk levels.

Due to the high frequency of knee OA among Malaysian adults, robot-assisted MAKO surgery brings a new era in orthopedic care, offering personalized surgery options, minimally invasive procedures, improving surgical outcomes, and faster recovery. Through MAKO technology, SMCV empowers patients to regain mobility and improve their quality of life, promising a bright future for knee OA treatment with comprehensive procedures and patient care improvements.


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