Knee Cartilage Injury Specialist in Singapore

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Dr Kau Chung Yuan (许医生)


MRCS (Ireland)

MMed (Ortho)

FRCSEd (Ortho)


What is a Cartilage Injury?

A cartilage injury involves damage or wear and tear to the tough, flexible tissue that cushions joints. This type of injury is common among athletes, active individuals, and those with degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis. If left untreated, it can result in:

  • Increased pain and discomfort during daily activities
  • Development or worsening of osteoarthritis
  • Further deterioration of cartilage and joint health
  • Reduced overall joint function and mobility

Types of Knee Cartilage Injuries

Knee cartilage injuries can vary widely, ranging from minor wear and tear to significant damage. The two main types of cartilage in the knee are the articular cartilage and the meniscus.

Articular Cartilage Injuries

Articular cartilage injuries include focal defects, osteochondritis dissecans, and degenerative changes associated with osteoarthritis. These injuries often result from trauma, repetitive stress, or underlying joint conditions.

Meniscal Tears

Meniscal tears are common and can occur due to acute injury or degenerative processes. They can be classified as longitudinal, radial, horizontal, or complex tears, depending on the tear’s pattern and location.


The symptoms of knee cartilage injuries can vary significantly depending on the severity and location of the injury. Common symptoms include:

  • Pain
    Pain is often the first and most noticeable symptom. It can be localised to a specific area of the knee or more diffuse. The pain may worsen with activities that involve knee movement, such as walking, running, or climbing stairs.
  • Swelling
    Swelling around the knee joint is common and may occur immediately after an injury or develop gradually. Swelling can cause the knee to feel tight and may limit movement.
  • Stiffness
    Stiffness in the knee joint can make it difficult to bend or straighten the knee fully. This stiffness can be more pronounced after periods of inactivity, such as sitting for long periods.
  • Catching or Locking Sensation
    Some people may experience a catching or locking sensation in the knee, where the joint feels like it is stuck or unable to move smoothly. This can occur due to loose cartilage fragments within the joint or mechanical obstruction from the injury.
  • Instability
    In some cases, the knee may feel unstable or give way, especially during weight-bearing activities. This instability can increase the risk of further injury.

Causes and Risk Factors

Knee cartilage injuries can arise from various causes and risk factors.

Common causes include traumatic injuries from sports or accidents, repetitive stress from activities such as running or jumping, and degenerative changes due to ageing or underlying joint conditions like osteoarthritis.

Risk factors for knee cartilage injuries include high-impact sports participation, previous knee injuries, obesity, and genetic predisposition to joint diseases.

When to See a Knee Cartilage Injury Specialist

It is advisable to see a knee cartilage injury specialist if you experience persistent knee pain, swelling, or difficulty in joint movement that does not improve with rest or over-the-counter treatments.

Immediate consultation is particularly important if you have sustained an acute injury or if your symptoms are accompanied by instability, catching, or locking of the knee joint.

Early intervention by a specialist can prevent further damage, improve outcomes, and facilitate a quicker return to normal activities.


Accurate diagnosis of knee cartilage injuries is essential for effective treatment. The diagnostic process typically involves several steps:

Medical History: The specialist will begin by taking a detailed medical history, including any previous knee injuries, the onset and nature of symptoms, and activities that exacerbate or relieve the symptoms. This information helps identify potential causes and risk factors.

Physical Examination: A thorough physical examination of the knee is performed to assess pain, swelling, range of motion, and stability.

Imaging Studies: Imaging studies are important for visualising the extent of cartilage damage and other associated injuries. Common imaging techniques include:

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): MRI is used for evaluating knee cartilage injuries. It provides detailed images of the soft tissues, including cartilage, menisci, ligaments, and tendons, allowing for a comprehensive assessment of the injury.
  • Arthroscopy: In some cases, an arthroscopy may be performed to directly visualise the inside of the knee joint. It allows the specialist to assess the extent of cartilage damage and perform treatments such as debridement or microfracture if necessary.

Treatment Options for Knee Cartilage Injuries

Non-Surgical Treatments


Medications can help manage the symptoms of knee cartilage injuries. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are commonly prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation. In some cases, corticosteroid injections may be used to provide more immediate relief of inflammation. Pain relievers can also be recommended for symptom control.


In addition to corticosteroid injections, other injectable treatments are available for knee cartilage injuries. Hyaluronic acid injections can improve joint lubrication and reduce pain, particularly in cases of osteoarthritis. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, derived from the patient’s own blood, are believed to promote healing and reduce inflammation.

Surgical Treatments


Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure used to diagnose and treat knee cartilage injuries. During the procedure, a small camera (arthroscope) is inserted into the knee joint through a small incision. This allows the specialist to visualise the inside of the joint in great detail.

Cartilage Transplantation

Cartilage transplantation, also known as autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) or osteochondral autograft/allograft transplantation, involves replacing damaged cartilage with healthy cartilage from another part of the body or a donor. This procedure is typically reserved for larger cartilage defects and aims to restore joint function and relieve pain.


Osteotomy is a surgical procedure that involves cutting and reshaping the bones around the knee to relieve pressure on the damaged cartilage. This procedure is often recommended for younger patients with misaligned knees or early-stage arthritis. By redistributing the load on the knee joint, osteotomy can help preserve the remaining healthy cartilage and delay the need for joint replacement surgery.


Dr. Kau Chung Yuan

MBBS (S’pore)

MRCS (Ireland)

MMed (Ortho)

FRCSEd (Ortho)

Dr Kau (许医生) is a Fellowship trained Orthopaedic Surgeon with a subspecialty interest in Hip and Knee surgery and has been in practice for more than 15 years.

He is experienced in trauma and fracture management, sports injuries, and joint replacement surgery.

  • Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh, Orthopaedics (FRCS, Edin) 2014
  • Master of Medicine (Orthopaedics), Singapore (MMed) 2013
  • Member of the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (MRCS, Ire) 2009
  • Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBBS, Singapore) 2004

Post-Treatment Care

Post-treatment care is important for a successful recovery from knee cartilage injuries.

After any treatment, whether surgical or non-surgical, it is recommended to follow the specialist’s recommendations to ensure proper healing. This may include resting the knee, applying ice to reduce swelling, and keeping the knee elevated. Compression bandages or knee braces may also be used to provide support and minimise movement that could aggravate the injury.

Partnered Programs & Insurance Plans

For Singaporeans, Singapore Permanent Residents and Foreigners.
Please speak to our friendly clinic staff about using your insurance plans.

Patient Feedback

Ethan Chan
Dr. Kau is an exemplary doctor who is experienced in his field and is very patient with his patients. He walked me through the details of my knee condition and addressed all my concerns. Thanks to Dr. Kau, I had a better understanding of my ACL and MCL injury and the various treatment options available. His advice and treatment have been very valuable to me.
Ming Lee Chua
Dr Kau was very careful and explained clearly the surgery procedures. After surgery, the care while I was in hospital was closely monitored and he even came during weekends! The hip so far has recovered and healed. His ‘predictions’ of when what can happen are so accurate. Trust him.
Teo Pek Suan Diana
I had a very successful total hip replacement done by Dr Kau 4 years ago. 4 months after the operation I was back walking, cycling and swimming. The beautiful job gave me much confidence Dr Kau is most professional and has such great doctor patient communication.

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    Visit Us Today

    Mount Elizabeth Novena
    Specialist Centre
    Mount Alvernia
    Farrer Park
    38 Irrawaddy Road,
    Singapore 329563
    1, #02-01 Farrer Park Station Rd,
    Connexion, Singapore 217562

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    What are the early signs of a knee cartilage injury?

    Early signs of a knee cartilage injury often include pain, swelling, and stiffness in the knee joint. You may also experience a grinding or clicking sensation during movement. In some cases, the knee may feel unstable or give way. These symptoms can occur gradually over time or suddenly after an acute injury.

    How is a knee cartilage injury diagnosed?

    Diagnosis of a knee cartilage injury typically begins with a detailed medical history and physical examination. The specialist may order imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI, or CT scans to assess the extent of the damage. In some cases, an arthroscopy may be performed to directly visualise the inside of the knee joint and confirm the diagnosis.

    How long does recovery take after knee cartilage surgery?

    Recovery time after knee cartilage surgery varies depending on the type and extent of the surgery performed. Generally, patients may need several weeks to several months to fully recover. Physical rehabilitation plays a critical role in the recovery process, helping to restore knee function and strength. The specialist will provide a personalised rehabilitation plan and follow-up schedule to monitor progress.