Arthritis is often termed as an old-age disease, but in the past decade, the age of onset arthritis has been seen to come down. Arthritis is the most common degenerative musculoskeletal disorder among women and can increase with age. But, it is not limited to older adults anymore. Over the last 5 years, we, at our Joint Replacement & Sports Injury Centre, Paras Hospitals, Gurgaon, have seen about 10-15% increase in younger patients presenting with signs and symptoms of early onset arthritis. Childhood and adult obesity, neglected sports injuries, sedentary and stressful lifestyle, late working hours, unhealthy eating habits, smoking and alcohol, poor fluid intake and bad sitting or working postures have all played a significant role in the rise of this disease, says Dr Vivek Logani, Chief of Joint Replacement & Sports Injury Centre, Paras Hospitals, Gurgaon
The word ‘Arthritis’ means wear of the protective cartilage surface of the joints. It may happen because of age related wear and tear (degenerative osteoarthritis) or because of an inflammatory auto-immune disorder in the body (inflammatory arthritis). The latter variant often starts in the younger age group and unless properly diagnosed and treated timely, can progress incessantly and afflict multiple joints very soon. The strange phenomenon that is showing up over the last decade is increasing incidence of age related arthritis in younger patients less than 40 years of age. This is called ‘Accelerated osteoarthritis’ and can rapidly become a surgical necessity in a few years.
Arthritis is a condition characterized by pain, stiffness and inflammation (swelling), of the joints. While you may only experience mild discomfort at the beginning of the condition, but symptoms can worsen over time. They may eventually cause work limitations and affect your day-to-day routine.
Dr Logani reiterates the importance of prevention of arthritis in the following ways:
- Say no to childhood obesity: Maintaining healthy body weight is important right from childhood by means of balanced diet and regular exercises
- Do not ignore sports injuries and fracture treatment in young age as this might lead to premature wear of joints
- Any grossly visible deformities around joints must be corrected surgically at a young age to prevent eccentric premature wear of joints later on
- All high impact sports (running on hard ground, hopping jumping sports) must be learnt from good trainers and then only practised, so as to master the shock absorbing techniques with good foot-work, thereby preventing impact injuries to joints
- Smoking and alcohol must be abandoned as they post high oxidant stress and make the protective cartilage brittle, more prone to injuries
- High fluid and protein intake, regular exercise, active lifestyle, stress-releasing techniques, postural ergonomics- all play an eternally protective role to prevent early onset and rapid progression of arthritis.