Don’t let Arthritis affect the quality of your life

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By Dr Narendra Vaidya

Arthritis, an inflammation of one or more joints caused from inactivity is very common nowadays however it is not a disease that one needs to be scared about. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions. People of all ages, sexes and a race can and do have arthritis, and is one of the leading cause of disability in India.

Accordingly to, Arthritis affects 15% people i.e. over 180 million people in India. This prevalence is higher than many well known diseases such as diabetes, AIDS and cancer.

More than men it affects women. 60 % of all people who have arthritis are female.  Arthritis has come up as a major lifestyle disease in India with women being 3-times more prone to the disease as it is a major concern for women across the country that hampers their daily routine. Majority of women in India suffer from various forms of arthritis mainly due to lack of exercises and balanced diet, regular bending and squatting and wrong postures in their daily routine and overweight.

Pain, swelling, and stiffness are the primary symptoms of arthritis. Any joint in the body may be affected by the disease, but it is particularly common in the knee. The major types of arthritis that affect the knee are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and posttraumatic arthritis.

Osteoarthritis which is the most prevalent form of arthritis and the leading cause of disability in India affects over 15 million Indians each year. About 20 years ago, osteoarthritis was known as a disease of the elderly affecting those above the age of 65 years. However, Orthopedicians are increasingly diagnosing younger people in the age group of 35 – 55.

Taking simple measures as mentioned below can help reduce the chances of your arthritis becoming worse.

  1. Seek an expert advice. Living with arthritis isn’t easy. If the pain aggravates, it’s advisable to consult an Orthopaedician. Delaying consultation may make the problem worse. Not only does the joint potentially become harder to repair, but one may also do permanent and irrevocable damage to the joint.
  2. Be well informed: It’s extremely crucial for the patient and his family to do an in-depth research before opting for any surgery, if at all required. For patients who are not willing to live a compromised life can opt for total knee replacement surgery. Last few years have seen a dynamic change in the technology used for knee surgeries. Technologically advanced, Oxidized Zirconium has lately been successful in offering long lasting knee. The material has proven to be a superior metal for use in the production of knee implants because of its hardness, smoothness and resistance to scratching. Advanced materials like this can help create better performing, longer lasting implants. It is tested to last for 30 years (under lab conditions). Hence it is highly recommended prosthesis for one to have an active life.
  3. Stay active – Studies show that physical activity is one of the best ways to improve your quality of life. Exercise boosts your energy. It can also strengthen your muscles and bones, and help keep your joints flexible. Try resistance training to build stronger muscles. Your muscles protect and support joints affected by arthritis. Maintaining a healthy weight relieves stress on painful joints.
  4. Eat a balanced diet. Studies show that a variety of nutrients may help ease arthritis symptoms. Foods rich in vitamin C especially fruits and vegetables and Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish and fish oil, may also help relieve pain. Experts say it’s best to focus on a balanced diet.
  5. Control weight. Being overweight puts undue strain on weight-bearing joints such as your knees, spine, hips, ankles, and feet. Losing weight can ease symptoms of arthritis.

(Dr Narendra Vaidya is a joint replacement specialist at Lokmanya Hospital, Pune)