“I'm a carpenter and so I spend a lot of time going up ladders, bending and kneeling. I think this is putting a strain on my knees as I’ve been experiencing a lot of pain recently. What can I do to relieve the pain? Do I need surgery?”
Many tradesmen are prone to developing knee pain throughout their career due to the nature of the trade. A modern day carpenter typically spends a significant amount of time kneeling, using ladders and pivoting and twisting in confined environments – which can put strains on certain structures within the knee. Carpenters are renowned to develop problems with their patellofemoral joint (the interaction of the knee cap with the femur). This gives rise to knee pain with associated symptoms of swelling, locking and instability; certain patients may also develop a grating sensation (crepitus) and clicking from the front of their knee.
Most mild knee conditions will settle within a period of 2-4 weeks, however if your symptoms persist, you should see a specialist who will be able to provide accurate diagnosis. Early diagnosis is crucial as this can alleviate your symptoms and protect your knee for the rest of your career. This can be done by taking an accurate history, examining the knee and diagnostics which usually take the form of x-ray and/or an MRI scan. These investigations provide information which, along with support of your clinical findings will mean the correct treatment strategy is implemented.
Not all knee pain cases will require surgery as some conditions will self-resolve with anti-inflammatories and physiotherapy. For patients with more persistent symptoms that require surgery, arthroscopy (key-hole surgery) will usually be performed, most commonly in people with unstable meniscal (cartilage/shock absorber) tears which are unable to heal without surgical intervention. The under surface of the knee cap can also become roughened by the continual impact and grow extremely painful, which can also benefit from keyhole surgery.
In addition to the above, there are multiple other treatment strategies involved in alleviating symptoms - injection therapy and steroid or hyaluronic acid (lubricant) are extremely effective in the right conditions. The use of orthotics (knee supports) also have a function depending on the diagnosis.
I would strongly recommend that if you are a carpenter struggling with knee pain which has not resolved within a 4 week period you seek an expert knee opinion. An accurate diagnosis and treatment plan can then be implemented to help you work more efficiently and prevent any long term damage which can affect your career.
If you would like to book an appointment with a participating orthopaedic consultant at Spire Portsmouth Hospital, please quote ‘back to work’ offer before 31 December 2016 on 02392 456 172 or email firstname.lastname@example.org