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5 Common Orthopaedic Conditions

Common Orthopaedic Disorders A/Professor Andrew Dutton
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With over 200 bones in your body, all with muscles, tendons, and nerves attached to them, you can expect several musculoskeletal disorders to arise from any of these points. But we’re taking a closer look at 5 of the common ones to understand how it feels and what it looks like behind the symptoms.


This condition is all too familiar and it refers to an inflamed joint. It is often associated with swelling, warmth, and a nagging discomfort. But in some cases, it can be more than just localised pain. The ones that are autoimmune and inflammatory in nature, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, not only inflames the tissue lining the joints, but also other parts of the body creating systemic effects.

The chronic pain, swelling, and stiffness can affect a person’s range of motion, and flare-ups can be unpredictable. This can affect your daily activities, including your ability to work.

Meanwhile, some forms of Arthritis can be prevented and others are severe to a point where it can be life-threatening. Some of the common forms of arthritis include, Osteoarthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Osteoarthritis, Psoriasis Arthritis, Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, and Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Contrary to common belief that it is an old-age disease, there are over 100 different types of Arthritis that can affect anyone—even children.

common types of arthritis a/professor andrew quoc dutton

Those who suffer from the symptoms of arthritis often miss out on adequate exercise because movement triggers pain—sometimes to a point of debilitation. As a result, this condition may lead to other problems like obesity, heart disease, or diabetes.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive cure for arthritis, but it can be managed with treatment and lifestyle changes. It’s why early diagnosis is important so that you can start treatment as soon as you experience symptoms. The initial intervention is to manage your pain, followed by gaining strength through physical therapy, and addressing lifestyle issues that may contribute to it (i.e. smoking, obesity). Your doctor can provide an individualised pain management plan, and if this is not enough, surgery can be added to your list of options especially among those with hip and knee issues.

If you are worried that the discomfort you are feeling may be due to arthritis, you can ask yourself some of these questions:

  • Do you wake up in the morning with stiff joints?
  • Does it take you longer to get out of bed than it used to?
  • Are your knees, hands, hips, neck or lower back aching more than before?
  • Have you noticed that some of the joints in your hands and feet have become swollen?
  • Is it getting harder to move in general?
If you answered yes to any of these, you may be developing arthritis.


Osteoporotic Fracture A/Professor Andrew Dutton

A fracture is a medical term for a broken bone. It occurs when the amount of force applied to the bone is more than it can handle. It can range from a crack to a complete break or separation of a bone.

Fractures commonly happen due to car accidents, falls, or sports injuries. It can also be a side effect of certain diseases that weaken the bone such as chronic kidney disease, untreated hyperthyroidism, cancer, and many others.

Sometimes, a broken bone pokes through the skin in what is called an open or compound fracture. If the skin remains intact, it is called a closed or simple fracture. But if a gap forms where the bone breaks, that is called a displaced fracture and it requires surgical correction. If the injury doesn’t go all the way through the bone, that is incomplete fracture.

There are also certain fractures which don’t always pose significant damage right off the bat. Repetitive force and strain can result in microscopic damage to the bones called stress fractures, which usually occur on the foot, ankle, the shin bone, or the hips. These are common among athletes, but if these are not treated at an early stage, the pain can be severe and may cause chronic problems.

5 commonly fractured areas a/professor andrew quoc dutton
It’s possible for broken bones to be treated without surgery. Injured areas can be placed in casts or splints that can be applied around a fractured limb to limit movement while healing is encouraged. Meanwhile, in surgical realignment of broken bone, surgical repair involves techniques that rely on the nature of the specific fracture. Metal plates, metal rods, and pins may be screwed in place to make adjustments to the orientation and position of a bone as it heals.

Low Back Pain

Also referred to as a low back sprain or strain can happen suddenly, this type of injury can develop slowly over time from repetitive movements.

We may not always realise it but our low back supports the weight of the upper body. It allows us to be mobile enough to bend and twist. The area is also supplied with nerves to provide sensation and to power the muscles in the lower extremities.

Back pain can range in intensity from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp or shooting pain. Aside from the characteristic of the pain, you can also classify it based on how long it has been occurring.


  • Short-term back pain lasts a few days to a few weeks
  • Most low back pain is acute.
  • It tends to resolve on its own within a few days with self-care and there is no residual loss of function.


  • The type of pain that continues for 12 weeks or longer, even after an initial injury or underlying cause of acute low back pain has been treated.
Common Reasons Lower Back Pain A/Professor Andrew Dutton
Besides causes that stem from our lifestyle, low back pain can be related to conditions like:
  • arthritis
  • a ruptured or herniated disc
  • cancer of the spinal cord
  • sciatica
  • kidney infections
  • or infections of the spine

Since low back pain is not a specific symptom, doctors would prescribe different tests to determine the root cause. In that way, a suitable treatment can be given.

So, if low back pain has been persisting for a prolonged period of time, seek medical help before it may get any worse. The earlier you get treatment, you lower the chances that it may affect your quality of life. Talk to an orthopaedic doctor today.

Ligament Tears

Ligaments are bands of strong, flexible tissue that connect bones together throughout the body. They allow movement between bones, which allows you to do things like flex your foot or move your fingers. When ligaments are stretched or strained beyond normal capacity, they can tear. There are three grades of ligament injury: grade 1, a mild ligament tear; grade 2, a moderate ligament tear, and grade 3, a complete ligament tear, otherwise known as a rupture.

An injured ligament is called a sprain, but in some cases, the injury can be severe and it results in a tear.

How do ligaments tear?

Common causes of ligament tears are twisting body parts or hard or awkward landings. Tears often happen when ligaments are stretched fully and then encounter some form of impact or trauma. Ankle sprains, a mild torn ligament in the ankle, can happen when you are walking or running, land awkwardly, and twist your ankle. The knee and ankle ligaments are more vulnerable to tearing because they are weight-bearing ligaments that are often under stress. People who engage in sports that involve full contact (like hockey and football) or many changes of direction (like basketball and tennis) are most susceptible to ligament injuries.

ligament injuries a/professor andrew quoc dutton

What are the treatments for ligament tears?

Early medical treatment for knee ligament injury may include, rest, cold compress (to reduce swelling that happens within hours of the injury), compression (from an elastic bandage or brace), elevation, and pain relievers.

Treatment may include the application of a protective knee brace, activity limitations, and muscle-strengthening exercises. For a complete tear, which may result in knee instability, a surgical knee ligament repair is an effective treatment. This procedure involves replacing the ligament with a piece of healthy tendon.

Fibromyalgia Syndrome

A chronic condition chiefly characterised by persistent pain, stiffness, and tenderness of the muscles, tendons, and joints. It is characterized by restless sleep, tiredness, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and even disturbances in bowel functions. It is a common chronic widespread pain condition, it is often under diagnosed.

The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but the condition is thought to be linked to stress, genetics, neck trauma and sleep problems. It also commonly affects women between the ages 35 to 55.

The symptoms of fibromyalgia syndrome resemble those of arthritis, but fibromyalgia affects the soft tissue, not the joints.

Fibromyalgia Symptoms A/Professor Andrew Dutton

Blood tests, X-rays and MRI’s can sometimes help with diagnosis by excluding other medical causes of a patient’s symptoms. Common conditions that can mimic Fibromyalgia are hypothyroidism, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and infections.

Since it is a syndrome, it is expected that each patient will show a different set of symptoms. For that, fibromyalgia can be a challenge to manage, hence medical attention is needed based on an individual treatment plan.

Symptoms can be managed successfully in many cases with a combination of medication, physical therapy, and behavioral techniques.

Now that you’ve gained insights into the different presentations that common orthopaedic disorders have, we hope that you just don’t take persistent aches and pains lightly. Get to the bottom of it to ensure that prompt and proper management can be provided.

See a doctor for any symptoms that impact your daily activities. For any questions or if you need to ask medical advice on signs and symptoms that may be related to any orthopaedic disorders, you may book a consultation at the A/Professor Andrew Quoc Dutton Orthopaedic & Sports Clinic.

Read: Patient’s Guide When Seeking Orthopaedic Care in Singapore

A/Professor Andrew Quoc Dutton Orthopaedic & Sports Clinic Insurance

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About A/Professor Andrew Quoc Dutton

A/Professor Dutton, also known as, has been in clinical practice since 1996 after graduating from Marist College, Canberra and the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. A/Professor Dutton has worked at the Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, and the St. George Hospital, Sydney, before completing his orthopaedic surgery training in Singapore. He is currently an associate professor of orthopaedic surgery at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

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