On World Arthritis Day observed on Monday, hospitals in the city organised meetings and rallies for adults and children with the aim of creating more awareness of the disease. The theme of this year was ‘Let’s Work Together.’

According to doctors, awareness about rheumatoid arthritis, which could affect anyone, is low. “There is need for employers to understand that people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis will take longer time to dress and take leave more often,” S. Sivamurugan, Director of Soundarapandian Bone and Joint Hospital and Research Institute, told a gathering of senior citizens here on Monday.

The Institute had organised a seminar on arthritis and management, which was attended by Member of Legislative Assembly S.Ve. Shekher, and Health Secretary V.K. Subburaj. Mr. Shekher said people avoid going to the doctor because it is expensive. But, it would be wise to attend to a health problem immediately and pay attention to the doctor’s advice. People should take a medical insurance as it would prevent them from worrying about unexpected expenses later, he said.

Mr. Subburaj said that the State government offered excellent medical facilities, which is also sought by people from 55 other countries. About 1,500 of the 5,000 surgeries done under the recently introduced health insurance scheme of the State government were related to orthopaedic problems, he said.

Indian women over the age of 40 are more prone to arthritis while in the West women over 60 are affected by the disease, Dr. Sivamurugan said. Arthritis of the hip is common in the West, whereas in India arthritis of the knee is more common.

Even youngsters could become arthritic. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), found generally in youngsters could progress very quickly confining a person to the wheel chair. Among the elderly, osteo arthritis is more common. RA results in reddish, swollen joints whereas osteo arthritis is due to wear and tear. Exercises to strengthen quadricep muscles would prevent arthritis. There are now machines to measure the strength of these muscles, he said.

Geriatrician V.S. Natarajan said people over the age of 65 should go for a medical check up every six months and avoid self-medication. Low calorie, fibre-rich diet that included two glasses of milk, greens and a seasonal fruit every day will prevent diseases. Regular walking is necessary to maintain the health of bones, he said.

Rally held

More than 800 students from three different schools participated in an awareness rally organised by Parvathy Hospital, Chromepet. The rally, which commenced at MIT Playgrounds and culminated near TB Sanatorium, was inaugurated by educationist K. Narayan Rao and Madras Institute of Technology Dean A. Joseph Stanley. SCS Matriculation Higher Secondary School Correspondent, V. Santhanam, explained the various medical facilities available to treat arthritis.

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