Knee pain and stiffness can be caused by a variety of conditions, most commonly arthritis and injuries. Treatment options vary depending on the particular diagnosis. They can range from physiotherapy and lifestyle changes, to medication and supports or braces - and also includes surgery. Surgical options range from minimally invasive procedures, to reconstructive surgery to joint replacement. The decision to recommend surgery depends on the severity of symptoms and on patient circumstances. This can take in your age, activity level and risk tolerance. Painful knees or conditions that restrict movement can severely impact on your quality and function of life. As a result, knee conditions can be very debilitating and should not be ignored. The specialists in Blackrock Health have successfully treated many patients with knee problems.
Blackrock Health offer a range of non-surgical and surgical options for knee pain at our three hospitals. Our experts work together to try and diagnose, treat or manage acute and chronic conditions that affect the knee. We aim to identify the underlying causes of your knee pain by performing tests and exams - then recommending tailored treatments.
Blackrock Health is home to some of the most established private orthopaedic faculties in Ireland. We can carry out minimally invasive surgeries in hi-tech facilities across all our hospitals. We offer comprehensive musculoskeletal care, with dedicated inpatient orthopaedic and spinal wards. If you have day-case surgery, our team will care for you on our comfortable day wards.
We offer the full range of orthopaedics, including consultation, diagnosis, treatment, and aftercare. Our orthopaedic consultants are internationally recognised and conduct thousands of procedures every year. Our hospitals have expert multi-disciplinary teams - including clinical nurse specialists and physiotherapists. And we use the latest technology, from robot surgery to spinal navigation techniques and real-time imaging.
Blackrock Clinic is also one of the first private hospitals in Ireland to use the Irish National Orthopaedic Register (INOR). This is a national database informing on orthopaedic surgeries and outcomes in Ireland. [LINK]. The aim of this register is to improve patient outcomes.
Both the Hermitage Clinic and Galway Clinic are expected to enrol with INOR in 2023.
You can access our services quickly and easily with a referral from your GP and can then enjoy world-class clinical care and comfort. Over 75% of our rooms are single occupancy - to help you make a quicker recovery in a safe environment. We aim to provide you with best possible outcome, and to restore your quality of life.
How can knee pain be treated?
As with most orthopaedic conditions, treatment ranges from rest to physiotherapy - and sometimes to surgery.
Treatments that physios provide or prescribe typically aim to build strength and restore motion. They can also work towards correcting patient posture to help reduce muscle strain. Finally, physiotherapy can offer a wide range of therapeutic treatments. Some may be performed by your physio, but most will be carried out by the patient in their own time based on a personalised plan drawn up by the physio. These could include:
- Exercises for flexibility
- Massage for pain relief
- Underwater exercise for stretching and strengthening
- Ultrasound therapy for inflammation
- Heat/cold therapy for stiffness
What are some conditions that cause knee pain or restricted movement?
Knee pain is a common complaint that affects people of all ages. Common causes of knee pain are injuries, degenerative diseases, and postural problems. Injuries can include soft tissue sprains, strains or torn ligaments or cartilage in the knee joint. They can also include bony injuries such as fractures and dislocations. Medical conditions - including arthritis, gout and infections - also can cause knee pain. Degenerative diseases like osteoarthritis can wear away synovial membrane and cartilage. This causes pain and stiffness, as both are essential to ease bone movement and cushion the knee joint during physical activity. Poor posture or other abnormal biomechanics can also lead to stress imbalances. This can impact the knee joint resulting in restricted movement. Many types of minor knee pain respond well to self-care measures. Physical therapy and knee braces also can help relieve pain. In some cases, however, your knee may require surgical repair.
Our Knee Specialists
Knee conditions are typically treated by an orthopaedic surgeon or a or a chartered physiotherapist (non-surgical). An orthopaedic surgeon can offer treatment for knee injuries or arthritis - and perform surgery if needed. Physiotherapists treat knee problems with exercises that improve knee strength and motion..
Our Consultant Radiologists work closely with the Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeons. Together, they aim to find a swift diagnosis and the very best treatment plan for all their patients. Here are some of the tests we can offer to help diagnose the cause of your knee pain.
An X-ray can be used to diagnose any structural changes in the tissues and bones in the knee, such as fractures or arthritis.
An ultrasound scan is used to check for signs of tendonitis, bursitis, or joint inflammation in the knee.
An MRI may be ordered to rule out other potential causes of knee pain like tumours or fractures that cannot be seen on an X-ray.
A CT scan allows doctors to see detailed images of structures within the body to help identify sources of pain. They can provide more information about underlying conditions like arthritis or ligament tears.
Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS) test:
This test measures nerve function. It allows doctors to determine whether there is nerve damage or compression that could contribute to knee pain.
This test measures muscle electrical activity along with nerve conduction. It is measured with electrodes inserted into muscles near the knee. This test can help detect any abnormalities that might be causing pain.
Testing for Gout
To test for gout as a cause of knee pain or stiffness, a medical professional will typically order blood tests and imaging tests - such as x-rays or CT scans. Joint fluid aspiration may also be used in order to test for uric acid, which is usually elevated in cases of gout. If a high uric acid level is detected, other tests may be done to rule out other causes of joint inflammation such as infection or arthritis. The doctor will likely review the patient’s family and personal medical history. This will include lifestyle factors and symptoms to identify any risk factors such as diet or medication. Once all of the evidence has been reviewed, a diagnosis can be made and treatment options discussed with the patient.
What kind of treatments and procedures can we offer to patients with knee pain?
If the pain comes on suddenly, rest is often the best medicine. For longer-lasting symptoms, there are a range of helpful treatments.
Physiotherapy is another useful treatment. Our physio team can provides strengthening exercises that are specific to your injury and its severity. These exercises will help strengthen muscles around the knee - and so reduce your pain levels.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or aspirin may also be prescribed. These will help reduce pain and inflammation in the knee.
Corticosteroid injections are also sometimes used. These are only considered if other medications and treatments have not succeeded in reducing your pain levels.
There are also supporting or secondary treatment options that may help relieve symptoms. These include ultrasound therapy, massage therapy, hot and cold therapy (such as heating pads), or acupuncture. We can discuss all options with you, depending on your individual needs.
Surgery can also be an option for more severe knee problems. This line of treatment is only pursued if other treatment options have not delivered the hoped-for results. Surgery can significantly improve ones quality of life, but it is an invasive procedure. This can be associated with potential risks and complications.
Surgical Procedures for Knees
Knee arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure used for both diagnosis and treatment. In this procedure, a thin and flexible instrument with a light - called an arthroscope - is inserted into the joint. Arthroscopy can either make a diagnosis, or help treat a condition. These include torn cartilage fragments, inflamed synovial tissue, and irregular joint surfaces. Arthroscopy can also be used for osteoarthritis, meniscus tears, tendinitis and ligament injuries. Patients may also find it helpful in reducing pain or improving range of motion in severe cases of arthritis. Arthroscopy may be done under general anaesthesia or sedation. Tiny incisions are made around the joint to insert the arthroscope. A fluid is then used to expand and fill the area so that the surgeon can see more clearly during surgery. A small camera attached to the arthroscope projects images of internal structures on a large video screen. This allows your surgeon to investigate any damage within your joint and usually diagnose any existing problems.
A surgical knee replacement is a procedure in which a damaged knee joint is replaced with an artificial joint made of metal and plastic. The procedure is usually performed under general anaesthesia, and a small incision is made in the knee to allow the surgeon to access the joint.
Once the surgeon has access to the joint, the damaged parts of the knee are removed and replaced with the artificial joint. The artificial joint consists of three components. The first is a metal femoral component that is attached to the end of the thigh bone. The second is a metal tibial component that is attached to the top of the shin bone. The third is a plastic spacer that sits between the two metal components.
The new joint is then secured in place using bone cement or other methods. After the procedure, patients typically stay in the hospital for a few days to recover. They also receive physical therapy to help them regain strength and mobility in their knee. With proper care and rehabilitation, most patients are soon able to resume normal activities.
Robot Assisted Surgery at Blackrock Clinic
Blackrock Clinic offers a surgical procedure called Mako Robotic Arm Assisted Surgery. This procedure is used for joint replacements in hips and knees. It uses a robotic arm to assist the surgeon in placing implants in the joint with greater accuracy. This results in better outcomes for the patient and can reduce the risk of complications.
The Mako system involves a preoperative CT scan of the joint that is then used to create a 3D model of the patient's anatomy. This allows the surgeon to plan the procedure in advance and use the robotic arm during surgery to execute the plan with greater precision. The robotic arm has sensors that provide real-time feedback to the surgeon. This helps ensure that the implants are placed exactly where they should be.
Mako Robotic Arm Assisted Surgery has been shown to result in shorter hospital stays and faster recovery times for patients. It is a safe and effective way to get joint replacements. Many patients report a significant reduction in joint pain and improved function after this procedure.
What can you expect after attending Blackrock Health with knee pain?
The underlying causes of knee pain can vary greatly and are often complex. While self-care and nonsurgical therapies can succeed at managing symptoms, some cases may need surgery. No matter which approach you choose, the best path to treating chronic knee pain is to get an accurate diagnosis. We can then give you comprehensive guidance from our team. With their expertise, we aim to reduce knee pain and optimise your mobility.
How do I get this?
You will need a referral letter from your GP or consultant before you make an appointment. Please see our Request Appointment Form here.
Is this insured?
Not all services are covered by health insurance. To find out if you're covered, please check your health insurance before your visit. You can do this on our health insurance Cover Check page here, or by contacting your health insurer.
How do I pay?
If you do not have health insurance or your health plan does not cover the full cost, you will need to pay the balance due before your treatment or procedure. You may be able to claim back some fees on your insurance. To pay an excess not covered by your insurance or any other inpatient fees, please visit our payment page here. If you have any queries about paying for your care, please contact the finance team in your hospital.