World Arthritis Day 2020: Timely detection of Arthritis key to quality of life

October 12, 2020 2:46 PM

Attributing a plethora of reasons including lifestyle changes, obesity and increasingly ageing population the prevalence and complications related to arthritis is on the rise.

During arthritis when we stretch and move, the hip joint hurts and over time leads to greater stiffness and worsening of the condition that alleviates pain. (Photo source: Thinkstock)

By Dr. Akhilesh Yadav

Arthritis being the second most common rheumatologic problem, is also the most frequent joint ailment affecting the quality of life with a prevalence of around 40% among the Indian population. It is a serious disease with significant financial and socioeconomic implications. The impact is not limited to the knee with recent studies pointing towards a link between knee pain and increased mortality due to cardiovascular disease and other causes.

Attributing a plethora of reasons including lifestyle changes, obesity and increasingly ageing population the prevalence and complications related to arthritis is on the rise. Joint pains are often neglected until it causes distress or impaired quality of life, but still a greater number of young patients are presenting with this problem. Obesity is a key modifiable factor which should not be overlooked as the joints are burdened with at least three to six times the load bearing capacity.

Despite the progress in medical technology and decades of trying to understand the effects of arthritic knee, in the absence of a cure the treatments strategies largely focus on symptom management including pain relief, improved joint function, and joint stability.

If diagnosed at an early stage, it can be treated with medications, but when the symptoms have crossed the extreme stage, surgery is the only option left. Timely detection and advancements made in the field of Total Knee replacements with minimally invasive techniques making use of computer assistance has been providing an enhanced pathway for better recovery and improving the quality of life. Surgeries are now performed under a highly specialized and advanced environment, ensuring shorter discharge time and negligible pain. This also enables a shorter hospital stay, speedy recovery and greater patient satisfaction.

With certain lifestyle choices such as eating habits, sedentary lifestyle and excessive steroid consumption, hip pain from arthritis is affecting the younger generation which was once considered a medical problem in elderly population.

Arthritis is progressive disorder which starts gradually and worsens with time. It occurs when the joint space of your hip is narrowed and the soft tissues surrounding it start to shrink and tighten.

Though joint related problems have always been an issue related to aging, but for a variety of reasons including poor eating habits, sedentary lifestyle, consumption of body building supplements and steroids in excessive quantities more and younger patients have been diagnosed with joint related ailments. There is a sudden rise among the youngsters regarding the usage of body building supplements and steroids that is leading to various types of joint related ailments. Excessive usage of such supplements prevents the adequate blood flow to the bones in the joints causing the breakdown of the bone cells. In the majority of the conditions, the majorly affected is the hip joint. The ball of the hip joint gradually loses its blood supply and starts shrinking, leading to decline in its shape and smoothness. Such conditions if not treated in time can lead to chronic pain and difficulty in walking.

During arthritis when we stretch and move, the hip joint hurts and over time leads to greater stiffness and worsening of the condition that alleviates pain.

Based on the diagnosis and imaging tests the surgeon begins the treatment. If the medications and therapies are not enough to get relief from the inflammation then surgeons might advise minimally invasive hip replacement surgery.

“It is an appropriate treatment option if the hip joint is severely damaged or if pain and swelling reduces motion in joints and affects quality of life. Hip replacement surgery is one of the most successful modern orthopedic surgical procedures and it is performed with smaller incisions which mean quicker recovery. During a hip replacement surgery, the surgeon removes damaged cartilage and bone from the hip joint and replaces them with man-made parts. Surgery can help to reduce pain, enhance quality of life, and improve an individual’s ability to perform everyday activities with no restrictions.”

(The author is Senior Transplant Head Joint Replacement (Hip and Knee), Centre For Knee and Hip Care, Vaishali. Views expressed are personal.)

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