By Health In Five Writer
Not many of us are aware that the number of arthritis cases are on the rise in the country. As per one estimate, arthritis affects more than 180 million people in India, which is higher than many known lifestyle diseases prevalent across the nation. A rough estimate says that around 14% of the Indian population seeks a doctor’s help every year for this joint disease.
An analysis done by SRL Diagnostics on tests for arthritis done in its laboratories revealed that more women than men in India are suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis. It says that the most prevalent form of arthritis, Osteoarthritis has been affecting 15 million adults annually with a prevalence ranging 22% to 39% in India. Other common joint conditions affecting Indians are gout and rheumatoid arthritis. Further osteoarthritis is more commonly observed in women and more prevalent with ageing. Studies have observed that nearly 45% of women over the age of 65 years have symptoms while radiological evidence is found in 70% of those over 65 years.
Says Dr Shyam Thakkar, Orthopaedic (Foot and Ankle Specialist) at Lokmanya Hospital, “Arthritis is now becoming a common problem in Indian population. Most of these patients are above the age of 50 years. Almost, 6 out of 10 patients in our OPD are suffering from arthritis. Most commonly affected joints in arthritis in India are the knee. However, we are also seeing increase in incidence in arthritis in foot & ankle, hips and other joints.”
No doubt, arthritis is a debilitating condition that leads to pain in the joints and surrounding joints but there are certain lifestyle factors that can increase the risk of arthritis, and leave one crippled for life. Certain risk factors like obesity, smoking, stress and a sedentary lifestyle increase the likelihood of getting some types of arthritis or making it worse. It is possible to decrease the risk of arthritis by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, eat a well-balanced diet, de-stressing, and quitting smoking.
Avers Dr. Dhiraj Sonawane, Orthopaedic Consultant, Apollo Spectra Mumbai, “There are many types of arthritis, and the symptoms vary from person to person. Some arthritis is more common in women like osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and fibromyalgia. Gout is more common in men. One in five women suffer from RA. People who are overweight or obese may encounter knee osteoarthritis. Excess weight can also worsen osteoarthritis worse. Being overweight will pressurise the joints like hips and knees. Even bacteria and viruses infect joints and cause arthritis. Joint injury and repetitive stress can take a toll on the joint and lead to osteoarthritis in that joint. Even high levels of estrogen (female sex hormone also seen in males) can invite arthritis. Menopause, a previous infection, and stress aggravate arthritis symptoms.”
It is said that a daily dose of walking is quite beneficial in keeping the disease at bay as walking will not only help in keeping the body weight under control but will also relieve the pain, stiffness, swelling and even strengthens joints For arthritic patients, sedentary lifestyle is not at all recommended and walking is an efficient exercise to prevent the disease from progressing.
Adds Dr. Sonawane, “A sedentary lifestyle will worsen the symptoms. There is usually pain and stiffness in the joints due to various types of arthritis, and the muscles surrounding it can become weak. The tendons and other soft tissue get inflamed causing joint instability. Staying physically active can help improve flexibility in joints and the surrounding muscles. Strength training helps build muscle mass and tendon strength to stabilise and support joints. Walking, swimming, yoga, Pilates, quadriceps exercises and cycling can do the trick. It is wise to just rest and make sure that you fully recover in case of aggravated pain. Sleep to reduce fatigue, and eat well. Avoid foods with sugar, saturated and trans fats causing inflammation. Expose yourself to sun every morning, eat Vitamin D and calcium rich diet, take regular breaks after every 45 minutes. Avoid sitting and squatting positions, ground level activities, Indian toilets, obesity, smoking etc and do not delay consulting an orthopaedic”.
“Osteoarthritis of the knee happens in people following occupations that involve repetitive knee bending and squatting. Smoking raises one’s chances of RA and worsens the prognosis of it. Smoking makes it difficult to stay physically active, which is essential in managing RA and other types of arthritis”, says Dr. Fahad Shaikh Senior Orthopaedic Surgeon at Kohinoor Hospital.