A couple of years ago, two hospitals in Coimbatore held some events for persons who underwent knee joint replacement. One of the hospitals held a walkathon and even a 50 metre sprint for these persons and called the event “Freedom from Pain”.

Consisting mostly of senior citizens, the group that participated wanted to show that surgery had cured them of the pain caused by arthritis, a common problem that the elderly encounter. The events held by the other speciality orthopaedics hospital also stressed timely and effective treatment to get freedom from pain and lack of mobility inflicted by arthritis.

“Earlier, osteoarthritis used to set in around the age of 60 because of wear and tear of the knee or hip joint. Now, it is 50 because of additional factors such as obesity and lifestyle,” says Indian Orthopaedic Association president S. Rajasekaran. Arthritis of the knee is four times more common than the problem in the hip joint among Indians and this is because of genetic and lifestyle factors.

The other major problem is osteoporosis that causes calcium depletion in bones. It leads to the bone losing its density and turning porous. The man-woman ration in terms of occurrence is 1:10, says Dr. Rajasekaran. Menopause makes this set in among women quicker.

“Normal activity is a stimulus for calcium depositing in bones,” Dr. Rajasekaran points out, emphasising physical activity even as people move towards turning senior citizens. Putting the elders into the right kind of physical activities is important.

Extremes are bad. While total lack of exercise does not do any good, plunging into vigorous exercise, including jogging, can prove counter-productive.

“A senior citizen who gets into jogging without previous exposure to this form of exercise is bound to end up with bone and joint pain,” the orthopaedic surgeon explains. “These people need guidance on the kind of muscle strengthening exercises they can undergo and the medicines to take, in order to avoid adverse effects,” he says.

Persons with chronic arthritis should not take to over-the-counter medicines, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

They will end up with gastro-intestinal bleed and problems to kidney and liver. The elders should go in for timely and expert medical advice.

More In: Coimbatore | Rx | Health