Agnes * (not her real name) works in the finance industry and keeps fit with weekly Zumba classes and twice weekly brisk walks with her husband. After a particular walking session, the 58-year-old woman felt pain and noticed slight swelling in her right knee.
Taking anti-inflammatory medications from her GP helped relieve some of her symptoms, but her knee pain returned quickly after she returned to her Zumba classes.
Getting an injection of cortisone – which immediately relieves an inflamed area – helped ease the pain for about three months. But it quickly returned and Agnes realized that she could no longer exercise without triggering knee pain. Her condition continued to deteriorate to the point that she even had difficulty walking up the stairs at work, so she decided to see an orthopedic surgeon.
Her MRI revealed she had a posterior root tear with extrusion of the medial meniscus – meaning she was no longer able to ‘bounce’ off the knee, and the increased stress on the joint had resulted in damage to cartilage.
Sports injuries on the rise among women
As more and more people turn to fitness as a way to establish some form of routine and normalcy during the pandemic, cases of injuries are also on the rise. For example, sports doctors and physiotherapists in Singapore have seen up to 50% of new patients injured in running since 2020, as more people start running to deal with boredom or pain. stress.
While cases like Agnes sometimes stem from factors such as age, the growing popularity of fitness activities such as bouldering, CrossFit, spinning, and high intensity classes in gyms such as F45, especially among women, has contributed to a multitude of injury types ranging from neck and back sprains to shoulder injuries.
Dr Lo Ngai Nung, an orthopedic surgeon at Gleneagles Hospital, explains that it is “not so much because of the nature of the exercises, but more because of the intensity of the exercises”.
He explains, “The same factors that make these intensive exercise classes appealing, such as competitive camaraderie, are also potential injury factors, as participants often continue without realizing that they have reached their limits.
Women are also more prone to injury, he says, because “women have anatomical differences, less muscle mass, more loose ligaments, and lower bone mass.”
Orthopedic surgeon at Gleneagles Hospital, Dr Lim Yi-Jia, adds: “With the restrictions of Covid-19, many women are also teaching themselves exercises such as yoga, Pilates and strength training through online classes or YouTube videos. Without professional supervision, improper technique and accelerated progress can cause injury.
According to doctors, sports-related injuries can be broadly divided into two types: acute traumatic injuries and chronic overuse injuries.
The former usually comes from a “high energy injury”, such as a bad landing after a jump, resulting in acute swelling and pain that makes it difficult to use the limb.
Dr Lingaraj Krishna, also an orthopedic surgeon at Gleneagles Hospital, notes that one of the most common acute traumatic injuries in women is an injury to the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, a ligament in the knee that helps stabilize the joint, or the Dislocation of the patella (kneecap) as a result of direct trauma or torsion of the knee. In such cases, early medical attention should be sought.
The latter, on the other hand, occurs due to repetitive stress on tendons, muscles and joints from too rapid an increase in the intensity and volume of exercise. “Common overuse injuries include patellofemoral pain syndrome (runner’s knee) and shin splints,” says Dr. Krishna.
“These injuries are usually treated with rest, anti-inflammatory pain relievers, and physical therapy.”
However, he is quick to point out that if “symptoms do not improve in four to six weeks despite these measures, medical attention should be sought.” Chronic pain or worsening injuries would likely follow if these symptoms are left untreated.
Neck and back sprains are also common in women. Gleneagles Hospital Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr Yue Wai Mun, who is particularly interested in spinal surgery, advises seeing a doctor if you have pain even at rest, or if you have numbness or weakness in your arms and legs.
“The latter could mean a herniated disc with compression of the nerves. These could lead to permanent nerve damage if not treated in time, ”he warns.
Prompt medical treatment helps recovery
In many cases, doctors find that women are generally aware of these sports injuries and the need for treatment. However, some have delayed assessing their injuries due to work and family demands, or simply do not see themselves as having a serious injury.
Sometimes there are also concerns of a long downtime. To this, Dr Krishna recalls that “the potential for excellent recovery is greatest when injuries are treated early rather than late”.
He shares the story of Samantha *, 27 (not her real name), who suffered a complete tear in her ACL and a severe tear in one of the knee menisci after a bad landing during a bouldering session . With rapid reconstructive knee surgery, doctors were able to reconstruct his ACL and effectively repair the meniscus.
He says: “She is currently progressing very well in her rehabilitation and is on the road to recovery. Considering her improvement so far, I have no doubts that she will be able to return to OR soon.
In the case of Agnes, it is the desire to resume her activities definitively that convinced her to opt for a partial knee replacement. After two months of physiotherapy following her operation, she was able to resume her brisk walks and Zumba classes.
“The surgery was performed with a minimally invasive incision and the recovery period is short,” says Dr. Lo.
“Studies have shown that a high percentage of patients return to sport after surgery. A recent study from the University of Oxford also showed that partial knee replacement surgery will last a lifetime in 85% of patients aged 55.
Find a medical provider that meets your needs
As with any medical treatment, it’s important to find a good healthcare provider to make sure you’re in the best hands possible, so you can get right back to the activities you enjoy and take care of the ones that are most important. for you.
TO Gleneagles Hospital, a comprehensive group of professionals – experienced orthopedic surgeons, nurses, physiologists and occupational therapists – focused on medical outcomes, speed, technology and patient-centered care are on hand to help patients return to active lifestyles .
Those worried about the costs of seeking private care will also be happy to know that under integrated protection plans (which the Department of Health says about 70% of Singaporeans are eligible for), they are likely able to benefit from full coverage. for hospital care in private hospitals.
In addition, with a Private Integrated Shield Plan supplemented by a rider, the down payment is generally minimal.
Using the Gleneagles Hospital Bill Estimator, you will also be able to know your approximate medical costs related to your surgery by providing information on your integrated protection plan and the endorsements.
If you need more information, WhatsApp or call the Parkway Insurance Concierge hotline (+65 9834-0999) for clarification regarding the coverage of your protection plans and panel doctors. The staff of the hotline is at your disposal to help you make an appointment with the specialist of your choice.