Stopping the Worsening of Pain

Osteoarthritis as Fifth Main Reason for Loss of Healthy Years or Early Death

Knee, back and joint pains are familiar to many of us, not just to the elderly. In some situations, the pain can be so severe that the sufferer can barely walk or sleep. In a Singapore Burden of Disease Study completed in 2014, osteoarthritis is the fifth main reason for years of life lost to disability, ill-health or early death. Indeed, the Community Oriented Programme for Control of Rheumatic Disorders (COPCORD) studies initiated by the WHO (World Health Organisation) has also shown the likelihood of knee pain to be high among Asian Countries. We believe the way we walk is part of the reason, as walking in slippers or barefooted is common in Singapore.

Besides the elderly, more young Singaporeans are experiencing joint pain as well. In 2007, the Ministry of Health reported that 23.7 percent of Singaporeans between 18 to 50 suffer from chronic joint pains. This is a three-fold increment from the 7.4 percent reported in 2001.

Currently, there are many research initiatives on preventing the worsening of pre-existing osteoarthritis. However, not many practical programmes have been implemented in the community so far.

Making Headway in Detecting Osteoarthritis

The rehabilitation medicine research team at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) aims to close this gap. TTSH is a forerunner in rehabilitation medicine, and NHG is the only public healthcare cluster with a research institute for rehabilitation in Singapore.

We are developing a method to detect early stage osteoarthritis that is simple, cost-effective and non-invasive. We plan to make it accessible at polyclinics and GP clinics in the future.

With this new innovation, we hope to reduce the cases of osteoarthritis and the need for hospitalization in the next 10 years.


Find out how you can lend a helping hand to those with joint pain.

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Enabling Itch-free Lives 

[1] Leung, Y. Y., Pua, Y. H., & Thumboo, J. (2013). A Perspective on Osteoarthritis Research in Singapore. Proceedings of Singapore Healthcare22(1), 31–39.

[2] Ministry of Health Singapore. (2007). (rep.). National Health Surveillance Survey 2007. Ministry of Health Singapore. Retrieved from