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Updated: April 23, 2011 19:56 IST

When your knees give way

Dr. HARSHA HEGDE
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Pain strikes earlier... Photo: Heena Lohia
The Hindu Pain strikes earlier... Photo: Heena Lohia

Ravi (26) was a go-getter and a heartthrob at his office. His quest for knowledge and skill took him to the U.S at a young age. But unfortunately it turned out to be a very short journey. His problem started with stiffness and pain in the knees. The young man gradually felt his knees and hips giving in and took it seriously only when the pain became unbearable.

Shocking fact

Baffled by his condition, he consulted doctors in the U.S. But unable to accept their diagnosis, he came back to India. Here too local specialists confirmed the diagnosis: osteoarthritis.

Ravi soon had to use a wheel-chair; a nightmarish experience for a young man. The doctors suggested surgery. Ravi was shocked at the diagnosis because no one from his family suffered from such a problem. And arthritis is supposed to be a malady of old age.

But a recent study conducted by TNS Arogya reveals a shocking fact: Ravi is not the only young person with this problem. Osteoarthritis has emerged as a “Numero Uno” ailment in India among youngsters.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that results in wear and tear in the joints. While a lot has been said about modern lifestyle diseases, osteoarthritis has surfaced as the most common disease among those between 25 and 35 years because this generation is completely oblivious to the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Several factors like rising obesity, sedentary lifestyle, sitting postures and poor dietary habits are responsible for its high incidence.

Main factor

Obesity may increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis. If a person already has substantial osteoarthritis in a weight-bearing joint like knee or hip, weight reduction significantly improves their ability to rehabilitate after joint surgery as well as decreases risk of surgical complications.

Physical activity in early life builds stronger bone mass and protects against osteoporosis by maintaining healthy bone in middle and later adult years. Daily exercise is the single most important way to delay the onset of osteoarthritis.

Although injury and heredity are some of the causes behind osteoarthritis, nutrition also plays an imperative role. Our body requires a good amount of nutrients to rebuild its cartilage.

Healthy diet

An effective and a healthy diet should be made up of essential nutrients that help overcome arthritis pains and aches naturally. Nutritionally speaking, vitamin C, commonly available in citrus fruits, plays an important role in the development of normal cartilage.

Also people with low bone mineral density, such as in osteoporosis, may be at increased risk for osteoarthritis. An adequate calcium intake, as recommended for age and gender can help to maintain bone density.

Healthcare contains a component of prevention in its very conception. Care and attention should be focused on leading a healthy lifestyle in terms of physical activity patterns and dietary modifications.

People like Ravi teach us that it is high time we improve the quality of life rather than suffer later.

The writer is an Orthopaedic Surgeon based in New Delhi.

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