Ramya Kannan

CHENNAI: Diabetes and hypertension are not the only lifestyle diseases, but possibly the most high profile. Arthritis is also a lifestyle disease, orthopaedicians insist.

While degenerative arthritis is essentially wear and tear of the joints, more manifest in the knees in India, it is also true that those affected are not necessarily people over 65 years.

Mrs. Al Saeed Nada Ali Kadhim is only 54. But she was suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis which affected both her knees for the last 20 years.

For two years now, she has not been able to walk. At Apollo Speciality Hospital, surgeons put in a new generation Ceramic Coated Knee that will now ease her pain.

Even younger is Anjana Devi, 50, from Vijayawada. She too has benefitted from a ceramic joint and is now able to walk.

“With these patients, conventional metal total knee replacement was not possible due to their relative youth. The advantage with the ceramic knee is that it would last twice as long as the conventional device,” says Vijay C.Bose, joint reconstructive surgeon, Apollo Speciality Hospital.

“Arthritis is also a lifestyle disease. All of us, if we live to a 100, may develop arthritis, that is normal, as it is wear and tear. However, a lot of people are developing the condition much earlier, it is more common now,” Dr. Bose explained

Prithvi Mohandas, consultant hip surgeon, MIOT Hospitals, says a lot of young males with Ankylosing Spondylitis, a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease, are reporting early these days. “It is very common in India, occurs among 16-17 year old males and initially manifests as early morning stiffness. The natural progression is low back pain and stiffness of joints, really crippling movements,” he explains. However, if picked up early, it can be easily treated with a bunch of drugs.

“Weight is a certain factor in degenerative arthritis,” Dr. Bose says. The heavier you are, the greater the wear and tear. Avoid becoming overweight and obese, the aggravating factors such as stress and make sure you get adequate exercise, complimented by a healthy diet, he advices.

“ Suppose you have an auto immune joint disease, once cartilage wear and tear has set in, it will damage the joint. The idea, therefore is to prevent the joint from becoming stiff, with exercises, and avoid putting on weight” Dr. Prithvi says.

Kannan Pugazhendhi, sports physician, adds that most people ignore the fact that muscular strength provides integrity for the joint. “We can avoid arthritic manifestations by increasing muscular strength, especially for the lower body.”

“The biggest misconception is that the knee will wear out with exercise. Exercise will strengthen the muscles, all you have to do is choose the right kind of terrain – non concrete surfaces, including beach sands,” Dr. Pugazhendi explains.

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