Bone and joint disorders are generally considered to afflict the elderly. It’s actually not so, said Paras-HMRI’s Orthopaedics and Trauma department director Dr John Mukhopadhyay when TOI’s Banjot Kaur Bhatia spoke to him ahead of the Bone and Joint Day on August 4.
How are children affected by bone and joint disorders?
There are varied reasons for different disorders. The major cohort is nutritional orthopaedic disorders called rickets and osteomalacia caused by deficiency of Vitamin-D and calcium. Such cases earlier were mostly found in rural families, but now children afflicted by these come even from urban background. This can be attributed to their sedentary lifestyle which involves little, if any, exposure to sunlight and diets sans sufficient calcium.
How many such cases come to you?
One or two every day. If left untreated, they can lead to severe movement disorders, deformity of bones and stunting. Pain in joints for long is the common symptom. They can manifest even in adolescents.
There are few congenital disorders too…
Yes, and they include hip dislocation. But one can’t do much to prevent them. Infants can also suffer from infection in bones during the first 28 days of birth. It is largely asymptomatic. Parents should remain vigilant to see whether or not their baby is able to move limbs properly.
What kind of bone and joint disorders — other than nutritional ones — adolescents suffer from?
Back pain and knee pain. Some even come with disk collapse. At least 30% of such patients are adolescents. Of course, jobs that require one to sit before a computer for long hours and lifestyle sans physical movement are the causal factors. While most of them get well with the help of drugs, few cases may require surgery, especially the ones that come at advanced stage. But the biggest issue is something else…
What is that big issue?
The deaths and injuries in road accidents in the productive age group of 15 years-40 years. Road accidents in India claim 15-16 lives every hour and there are 50 injured along with every one death. At least two-three cases involving youngsters injured in road accidents come to me every day. Such cases could be of pelvic to spinal to deadly head injuries. We have rules for things like helmets etc, but sadly they are not implemented. The Orthopaedic Association of India has also filed a PIL in this regard, seeking a directive to Centre to take steps in this regard.
Which joint disorders are caused by infections?
Bone TB is most common. It was earlier confined to low-income groups. But it is no longer so. It mainly occurs due to exposure to contaminated food and water. Many come so late that their TB happens to have changed to drug-resistant TB. People with HIV/Aids are quite prone to it because their immune system is not strong.
Many ointments are sold, some legally over the counter. Are they safe to use?
Mostly yes. But if pain persists and such ointments are used for long, they suppress symptoms. This may compound the complication.
What’s your mantra for youths to prevent bone and joint disorders when they turn old?
Take nutritious diet, have enough exposure to sunlight, take time off to do exercise and check weight gain.