- Osteoporosis and osteoarthritis are sometimes mistaken for one another
- Osteoarthritis refers to degeneration of joints
- Osteoporosis leads loss of bone mass and increases risk of fracture
World Arthritis Day 2020: October 12 is observed as World Arthritis Day. Arthritis is inflammation of the joints which affects movement. The urban population has become increasingly sedentary, resulting in poorer muscle mass and bone strength. We are now faced with a modern epidemic where prevalence of arthritis (especially knee arthritis) has become very common in men and women post a certain age. This age related arthritis which is by far the most common type of arthritis is called osteoarthritis.
World Arthritis Day: What you need to know about osteoporosis and osteoarthritis
In India, osteoarthritis occurs in the age of 55-60. Not only is the patient profile of those suffering from arthritis in the subcontinent, getting younger but they also tend to have much more severe arthritis with more deformities and disabilities than earlier generations.
Osteoporosis and osteoarthritis are sometimes mistaken for one another. While osteoarthritis refers to degeneration of joints, osteoporosis refers to the loss of bone mass that raises the risk of fracture.
A silent ailment, Osteoporosis can progress over the years and go undetected without symptoms until a fracture occurs. Osteoporosis is a painless condition which becomes painful if someone experiences a broken bone or fracture.
One of the common types of arthritis is osteoarthritis; a painful condition that can affect the joints, especially the hips, knees, neck, lower back, or hands and feet. The cartilage in the joint begins to get rough and thin when osteoarthritis develops.
Symptoms of arthritis
Depending on the type of arthritis you have, symptoms may include pain, stiffness, swelling, redness and decreased range of motion.
Causes of arthritis
The increasing prevalence of arthritis and its crippling effects are related to the changes in the lifestyle and the diet in the Indian populace.
The urban Indian is walking a lot less than his/her ancestors and the amount of physical activity has also decreased. Women are more affected due to various factors, including decreasing physical activity and less muscle mass.
The most common joint affected by arthritis is the joint. The knees are weight bearing joints, largely driven by a group of muscles in front of the thighs, the quadriceps. These muscles weaken quite rapidly due to inactivity and long periods of sitting. Weakness of these muscles usually increases arthritis pain which further deteriorate these muscles.
The inactivity also contributes to obesity which is one of the prime reasons for the aggravation of arthritis.
The cumulative affect deprives patients, their ability to walk, conduct activities of daily living and enjoy life in general. A more sinister effect is on the general health of a patient due to this decreased mobility leading to poorer cardio - vascular health, and worsening diabetes.
How to prevent arthritis?
Like any other mechanical machine, these joints also have wear and tear with time and lead to age related arthritis called osteoarthritis
Bones forming the joints are actually covered with very fine, almost frictionless joint cartilage, which allows us infinite, painless movement years after years. But when this wears out with time underlying bone is exposed, there are inflammatory reactions in the joints. Joints then become painful and person may have difficulty in walking or may have pain even at rest
Age-related osteoarthritis develops very slowly. Inflammatory type of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis, can develop rapidly. I call this a "red flag arthritis " because if it is not diagnosed early and special disease modifying drugs not given in time, not only many joints can get destroyed in the body but also this disease can affect many other organs.
Keeping weight in check, strengthening muscles around the joints, doing stretching and flexibility exercises go a long way in keeping the joints healthy and pain-free.
In early part of the disease, pain can be managed by above measures and simple pain killers and sometimes drugs which are likely to enhance the cartilage health. For inflammatory type of arthritis specific disease modifying drugs under medical supervision are extremely important
For end-stage arthritis, now it is possible to replace the joint for most of the major joints and also small joints of fingers. Computer assistance has added another great dimension to joint replacement and helps in precise placement of the artificial joint, thereby increasing its efficiency and expected longevity
Joint replacement enables patients to walk pain-free for long distances. This not only increases their mobility but also helps in preventing other diseases which require walking exercises such as diabetes, blood pressure etc. Also, pain free and limp free mobility brings self-esteem back in hitherto crippled patients.
(Dr Yash Gulati, Senior Consultant, Orthopaedics and Joint Replacement, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi)
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