Knee Arthritis

Knee arthritis is the inflammation of the knee joint, which can lead to the degeneration of the cartilage that cushions the bones within the joint. The knee is one of the largest and most complex joints in the body, and it bears a substantial amount of weight, making it susceptible to arthritis. This condition can impact a person’s quality of life, making everyday activities like walking, climbing stairs, sitting, and standing difficult.

Are chronic knee symptoms affecting your quality of life? Consult our knee arthritis specialist for an accurate diagnosis & personalised treatment plan.


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Dr Dennis Ng Zhaowen

Types of Knee Arthritis

There are several types of arthritis that can affect the knee, but the most common are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis. These are the main types of knee arthritis:


Osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cartilage that covers the ends of the bones wears down over time. When cartilage breaks down, bones rub against each other, causing pain, swelling, and stiffness. Osteoarthritis worsens over time and is more common in older adults, but younger people with a history of knee injuries or excessive joint stress might also develop this condition. Age, obesity, joint problems, and repetitive stress from work or hobbies put people at risk of getting osteoarthritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the synovium, the joint membrane lining. This causes inflammation, damaging the bone and tissue inside it. This condition affects both knees, leading to severe pain, swelling, and joint deformity. This type of arthritis is more common in women and can develop at any age. Early evaluation and treatment are important for controlling symptoms and preventing joint damage.

Post-Traumatic Arthritis

Post-traumatic arthritis can develop after a knee injury, such as a fracture, ligament tear, or meniscus tear. Even after healing, the injury can damage cartilage and lead to arthritis. Post-traumatic arthritis causes pain, swelling, and decreased joint function months or years after the injury. People of all ages can get this kind of arthritis, but people who have had serious knee accidents in the past are more likely to get it. Proper management and rehabilitation after knee injuries are important to reduce the risk of developing post-traumatic arthritis.

Symptoms of Knee Arthritis

Symptoms of knee arthritis can be mild, moderate, or severe, and they may worsen over time. Some common signs are:

  • Knee Pain
    Pain can range from mild discomfort to severe pain that limits daily activities. It can be persistent or intermittent, often worsening with activity and improving with rest. Pain may be felt in various areas of the knee, including the front, back, or sides.
  • Swelling
    Swelling around the knee joint is common in arthritis due to inflammation of the synovium (joint lining) and increased fluid within the joint. Swelling can cause the knee to feel warm and tender to the touch. In severe cases, the swelling may persist and affect knee function.
  • Stiff Knees
    Stiffness in the knee, especially after periods of inactivity or rest, is another sign of arthritis. Severe stiffness can impair the ability to walk, climb stairs, or sit and stand.
  • Reduced Motion
    This decreased range of motion can be mild initially but may progress to severe restrictions, making it challenging to fully bend or straighten the knee. In severe cases, this could make it harder to move around independently.
  • Clicking or Popping Sounds
    People with knee arthritis might feel like their knee “catches” or “locks” when they move. Clicking or popping sounds, known as crepitus, can occur when rough areas of the cartilage rub against each other. These sounds can range from occasional to mild or can happen often and be bothersome.
  • Weakness and Instability
    As the knee joint deteriorates, it may become weaker and less stable. This instability can cause the knee to give way or bend, increasing the risk of falls and further injury.
  • Visible Deformity
    As arthritis progresses, the knee joint may become visibly deformed. This can include having bow-legged or knock-kneed legs because the cartilage and joint structures wear down unevenly. Severe deformity can greatly affect how you walk and how your legs work in general.

Diagnosis of Knee Arthritis

Knee arthritis is diagnosed by medical history, physical exam, and testing. Diagnosing knee arthritis involves ruling out other conditions with similar symptoms.

Medical History

A detailed medical history is the first step in diagnosing knee arthritis. The knee specialist will ask about the onset and duration of symptoms, any history of knee injuries, and any other medical conditions. A family history of arthritis or other joint diseases may also be relevant.

Physical Examination

During the physical examination, a knee specialist will assess the knee for signs of arthritis. This includes checking for:

  • Swelling: The knee specialist will palpate or press the knees to detect areas of tenderness, swelling, discomfort, and inflammation.
  • Knee’s Range of Motion: The knee specialist will evaluate the knee’s range of motion by moving it through its full range and noting any limitations or pain.
  • Joint Stability: The knee specialist will perform certain manoeuvres to check the knee’s overall strength and the health of its ligaments. This may involve gently pushing or pulling on the leg to see if the knee remains stable or shows signs of weakness or instability.
  • Gait Analysis: The knee specialist will observe the patient’s gait and how they walk. This can provide information about how their knees function and if they are in pain. Changes in how you walk could be a sign of serious joint damage.
Imaging Tests

Imaging tests are required to diagnose and assess the severity of knee arthritis. Common imaging tests include:

  • X-rays: X-rays can reveal joint space narrowing, bone spurs, and other changes characteristic of osteoarthritis. In rheumatoid arthritis, X-rays can show joint erosion and other deformities.
  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): MRI scans provide detailed images of the knee’s soft tissues, including cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. MRI is particularly useful for detecting early-stage arthritis and assessing the extent of joint damage.
Laboratory Tests

Laboratory tests can help identify the type of arthritis and rule out other conditions. Common tests include:

  • Blood Tests: Blood tests can detect markers of inflammation, such as erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP). Specific antibodies, like rheumatoid factor (RF) and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP), can indicate rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Joint Fluid Analysis: Aspiration of joint fluid (arthrocentesis) involves drawing a small fluid sample from the knee joint. This fluid is analysed for signs of infection, inflammation, and crystals (which can indicate gout).

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Treatment Options for Knee Arthritis

Knee arthritis is treated using non-surgical and surgical methods to reduce pain, improve function, and improve quality of life. The treatment choice depends on the type and severity of arthritis and the patient’s overall health and preferences.

Non-Surgical Treatments

Non-surgical treatments are often the first line of management for knee arthritis. These include:


Medications can help manage pain and inflammation associated with knee arthritis. Pain relievers such as acetaminophen can help reduce pain but do not address inflammation. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, can help reduce pain and inflammation.

Knee Injections

Pain and inflammation may be reduced by knee injections. Common injections include corticosteroids, which reduce inflammation, and hyaluronic acid, which lubricates joints and may alleviate arthritis pain. These injections may provide months of relief.

Joint Lubricant Injection for OA Knee

Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is treated by hyaluronic acid injections, often called joint lubricant injections. These injections lessen discomfort and increase the range of motion by lubricating and cushioning the knee joint. They especially benefit those who have not reacted well to previous therapies.

APS (Autologous Protein Solution) Injection

This injection is a non-surgical regenerative therapy designed to treat osteoarthritis and slow down joint and cartilage degeneration. It uses your own blood components—specifically white blood cells and platelet-rich plasma—to reduce inflammation and pain caused by degenerative changes.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is important for maintaining and improving knee function, focusing on the following:

  • Strengthening Exercises: Exercises to strengthen the muscles around the knee help provide better support and reduce the load on the joint. Exercises such as calf raises and quadriceps or hamstring workouts can improve leg strength and knee function.
  • Range of Motion Exercises: Exercises to maintain or improve flexibility and mobility of the knee joint, such as heel slides, knee extensions and hamstring stretches.
  • Aerobic Exercises: Low-impact aerobic exercises, such as swimming or cycling, can help improve overall fitness without putting excessive strain on the knee.
Use of Assistive Devices

Assistive devices can relieve pain and improve mobility. Knee braces relieve discomfort and prevent injury by stabilising the knee. Canes or walkers reduce knee weight, making walking safer. These devices help people manage their condition and continue daily activities.

Surgical Treatments

When non-surgical treatments are ineffective, surgical options may be considered.

  • Arthroscopy: Arthroscopy is a procedure that uses a small camera inserted into the knee joint to remove or fix damaged tissue. This surgery is often performed on people with a torn meniscus, damaged cartilage, or loose bodies in the joint.
  • Osteotomy: Osteotomy involves cutting and reshaping the bones to ease pressure on the knee joint. This procedure is typically recommended for younger patients with limited arthritis and aims to shift weight away from the damaged part of the knee.
  • Partial Knee Replacement: Partial knee replacement involves replacing only the damaged part of the knee joint with a prosthesis, preserving as much of the natural knee as possible. This procedure is suitable for patients with arthritis limited to a single knee compartment.
  • Total Knee Replacement: Total knee replacement involves replacing the entire knee joint with an artificial joint. This procedure is typically recommended for severe arthritis that affects the entire knee and aims to relieve pain and restore function.

Preventive Measures

Preventing knee arthritis involves adopting lifestyle habits and measures that promote joint health and reduce the risk of developing arthritis. This includes:

  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: One of the best ways to avoid knee arthritis is to keep your weight healthy. Excess body fat puts extra stress on the knee joints, making them more likely to get damaged. Keeping a healthy weight can make your knees last longer and lower your risk of getting arthritis. Incorporate exercises to keep the muscles strong and flexible, which supports joint health.
  • Wear Appropriate Footwear: Taking steps to protect your joints during daily activities and sports can help prevent injuries that might lead to arthritis. This includes wearing appropriate footwear, using knee pads during high-impact activities, and practising good body mechanics when lifting heavy objects. Avoiding repetitive motions and high-impact sports that excessively strain the knees can also be beneficial.
  • Adopt a Healthy Diet: A healthy, well-balanced diet of minerals and vitamins can help keep your joints healthy. Vitamin D, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids are the most important nutrients for keeping bones healthy and lowering inflammation. Eating lots of fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and healthy fats is good for your health and can help keep you from getting arthritis. Also, drinking plenty of water is good for joint health because it helps keep the cartilage in your knees flexible and smooth. Drinking a lot of water throughout the day can help your joints work better and lower your risk of damage.

Effective & Evidence-Based Orthopaedic Care

Dr. Dennis Ng is dedicated to understanding your unique needs, focusing on restoring
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Jeremy Teo
Jeremy Teo
I tore my left pec muscle after a bench press accident and had the fortune of getting help from Dr Dennis. He is a very caring and helpful individual that you can tell wants the best healing progress for you and actively follows up with you sincerely. I initially had a two month delay and misdiagnosis at Ktph and it caused my tendon to retract. Should have went to Dr Dennis from the start.. 5/5
Emily Loo
Emily Loo
I felt that doctor Dennis is very experienced and he skilfully aligned my fractured toe after my accident so that I didn’t need to do a minor surgery. He was friendly and professional and I felt his fees were reasonable without additional overselling of tests, supplements etc. that I have experienced elsewhere. Overall it was a smooth and effective experience and I would highly recommend doctor Dennis.
Ming W
Ming W
Wonderful experience with Dr. Dennis and his team. The staff were attentive and efficient. Dr. Dennis is professional, caring and knowledgeable. I had a shoulder injury and knee injury that required surgery. The whole journey, including pre and post surgery, Dr. Dennis and his team made sure I received the best treatment possible. Really thankful for the team and I definitely will recommend this place to others.
Jermy Tan
Jermy Tan
Saw Dr Dennis for my lumbar slipped disc. Great doctor and he explained clearly the different options available. Went with surgery and have been recovering well since then.
Amanda Seah
Amanda Seah
I came in with a shoulder injury that meds from a GP did not relieve one month ago. Dr Dennis and his team were great in diagnosing the exact injury with an mri, and he prescribed physio. My shoulder condition has greatly improved and I can now move my arm almost completely! Thank you Dr Dennis!
Jaslyn HENG (Kenrick)
Jaslyn HENG (Kenrick)
A very friendly and nice doctor who manage to cure my elbow issue whjch has been bothering me for more than 6 months! Thank you Doctor Dennis!
Xianmin Jiang
Xianmin Jiang
I had severe left shoulder pain due to exercise. After MRI checking , it was shown high-grade tendon tearing. Dr Dennis did the surgery for my left should calf repair. After surgery, I strictly follow what he suggested. The recovery was really amazing and fast. I was curious about what happened to my shoulder, he explained in details and with great patience. Now, I am fully recovered in a very fast speed and come back to my loved sports and exercises. I definitely recommend Dr Dennis for his profession, patience and delicate skills. Last not the least, thank for his medical team. The nurses are always prompt to reply when I need help and message them.
Omar Lechuga
Omar Lechuga
Dr. Dennis helped me with an elbow pinch coming from a trauma. His attention to detail confidence and great empathy really helped me to fully recover. Thank you Dr. Dennis.
Benjamin Mah
Benjamin Mah
Dr Dennis has been helpful in the diagnosis and explanation of my injury

Dr Dennis Ng Zhaowen
Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
38 Irrawaddy Road #08-41,Singapore 329563

Dr Dennis Ng Zhaowen

  • Senior Consultant Orthopaedic Specialist
MBBS (Singapore)
FRCSEdOrth (Gold Medal Award)

Before private practice, Dr Dennis Ng was the former Deputy Head of the Shoulder & Elbow Division and Sports Knee Division in National University Hospital.

He completed his fellowship at the prestigious Fowler Kennedy Sports Medicine Centre in London, Ontario, Canada, and has rich experience treating professional athletes and returning them to sports. 

Special areas of interests include keyhole and reconstructive procedures of the knee and ankle. 

Common procedures include ACL Reconstruction, Meniscus repair, Cartilage resurfacing, Knee preservation etc.


Our clinic is on the specialist panels of the following Health Networks/Insurance Plans, and we are happy to assist with your claims or
attend to any query you may have.

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    Visit Us Today

    Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre

    38 Irrawaddy Road #08-41
    Singapore 329563

    Monday – Friday: 9am – 1pm; 2pm – 5pm
    Saturday: 9am – 1pm
    Sunday & PH: CLOSED

    Other Clinic Location

    Gleneagles Medical Center

    6 Napier Road #07-15
    Singapore 258499

    Monday – Friday: 9am – 1pm; 2pm – 5pm
    Saturday: 9am – 1pm
    Sunday & PH: CLOSED

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    Can knee arthritis lead to other health problems?

    Severe knee arthritis can impact overall health by limiting physical activity, which may lead to weight gain and associated conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Chronic pain can also impact mental health, potentially leading to depression or anxiety.

    When should I consider surgery for knee arthritis?

    Surgery may be considered when non-surgical treatments are no longer effective in managing symptoms and arthritis impacts daily activities and quality of life. A knee specialist can help determine the best surgical option based on the person’s condition and needs.

    What should I expect during recovery from knee surgery?

    Recovery times vary depending on the type of surgery. Arthroscopy might require a few weeks of recovery, while total knee replacement could take several months. Physical therapy is often required to regain strength and mobility after surgery.

    How often should I see a knee specialist if I have knee arthritis?

    The frequency of knee specialist visits depends on the severity of your condition and the treatment plan. Regular check-ups are important to monitor the progression of arthritis and adjust treatments as needed. Typically, patients may see their knee specialist every few months or as symptoms evolve.

    +65 9751 1486