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On World Arthritis Day, doctors ask India’s elderly to seek timely treatment

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Doctors suggest highly nutritious diet, rich in calcium and protein, and less junk food at a young age to prevent arthritis.

New Delhi: On World Arthritis Day, doctors say identifying the debilitating disease at the right time and seeking prompt treatment is the only way to maintain a healthy elderly population.

India faces a strong challenge of managing a huge population of elderly people which is going to triple by 2050, said a United Nations Population Fund report last year.

Arthritis, an inflammation of joints with over a hundred types, affects more than 180 million Indians, said an SRL Diagnostics report last year. Its symptoms include pain, swelling, restriction in movement and deformity of limb, among others.

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Osteoarthritis — bone degeneration leading to joint pain and stiffness in knees in old age — is the most common form of arthritis, say experts.

The SRL report predicted that India will become the osteoarthritis capital of the world by 2025 if current trends continue.

“Lack of awareness around treatment options for knees is worsening the situation. Instead of dealing with knee and joint problem seriously, people prefer to go for quick fixes like analgesics or some pain relieving balms,” Dr. L. Tomar, director, Orthopedics and Joint Replacement, Max Super Specialty Hospital, New Delhi.

“Such temporary solutions not just further worsen the bone and joint conditions, but also damage liver and kidney,” said Tomar.

He added that reduced mobility leads to not just diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and obesity, but also to serious spine issues.

Types of Arthritis

Apart from osteoarthritis, the other common types of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis, which is common in women and can happen in the 30s and 40s.

Ankylosing spondylitis is another form common in males as early as 20s and 30s.

Infective arthritis, another common form of arthritis, includes infection such as tuberculosis and Pyogenic (pus).

“While osteoarthritis happens in old age, rheumatoid and ankylosing spondylitis happen mainly because of genetic factors. Infective arthritis can happen to any patient suffering from tuberculosis or any infection like pus, or patients with low immunity and taking treatment for diseases like diabetes and bad sanitation conditions,” said Dr. Rajendra Arya, Head of Ortho Department, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, New Delhi.


Arya said all types of arthritis can be treated if patient approaches at the right time. He added it is advisable to get the blood test done on time and take supplements in order to prevent a disease like arthritis later in life.

He recommended highly nutritious diet and less junk food in young age to prevent arthritis.

“Calcium and protein rich food and exposure to sun to get vitamin D is a must to prevent arthritis,” said the doctor. India has the highest number of patients with Vitamin D deficiency, he said.

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“Treatment is possible on timely basis and if treatment is taken religiously. This will help reduce the disability and improves quality of life. You can rehabilitate, reduce intensity to improve quality of life in rheumatoid and osteoarthritis patients,” said Arya.

“There are a lot of medicines, rehabilitation and physiotherapy to help in treating the patients. Physical activity — mainly exercise, yoga and joint relaxing — can improve the condition,” said Arya.

He also mentioned cases where the progress of the disease to advance stages could be treated with a surgery.

“The knee replacement has become far more effective with the minimal invasive technology. In fact with this technology, even old people like those of 80 years or more could safely undergo knee replacement, that too with assurance of almost absolute normal locomotive recovery,” said Tomar.

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