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If it’s arthritis, there is hope

On the occasion of World Arthritis Day, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Healthway Hospital Sambprassad Nadkarni, gives a detailed lowdown on the ailment

In India today, 15 per cent of the population, nearly 180 million people, suffer from arthritis. However, unlike other serious ailments which tend to cause alarm, arthritis slowly and silently, cripples an individual.

“Arthritis is usually associated with joint pain, morning stiffness, restriction of movements, and in advanced cases, deformities, resulting in restriction of activities of daily living. But as is commonly attributed, every aching or painful knee or joint need not necessarily be arthritis,” says consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Healthway Hospital, Sambprassad Nadkarni.

In India, the most common arthritis is osteoarthritis of the knee-joint, which is usually in turn linked to age-related wear and tear of the cartilage. One of the key risk-factor for developing osteoarthritis of the knee joint, is a high body mass


“Osteoarthritis can be diagnosed based on clinical history and clinical examination and confirmed by radiological investigations like X-rays and MRI. However, conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, gouty arthritis and other metabolic diseases require blood investigations for confirmation,” says Nadkarni.

While the age factor is intrinsically linked to arthritis, a healthy diet, regular exercises and timely medical help can delay the advent of osteoarthritis and its symptoms to some extent.

A balanced diet containing the right mix of carbohydrates, fats and proteins is recommended, if one wants to keep arthritis  at arm’s length for as long as possible. Steadfastly avoiding the consumption of junk food, alcohol, refined sugars, processed foods, smoking and guzzling aerated drinks, can also help in preventing


In fact, early consultation with your physician, says Nadkarni, could be a great boon for a patient with early symptoms of arthritis, because early diagnosis and treatment could help prevent secondary


If detected early, he adds, arthritis can be managed with medicines like painkillers and nutritional supplements, which can help to rejuvenate the patient’s cartilage. Undergoing muscle strengthening programmes and signing up for weight reduction routines could also help a great deal.

“When one speaks of muscle-strengthening, it does not mean that one should start pumping weights and undergo heavy and intensive body-building routines. Low impact exercises, quadriceps, hip strengthening exercises, stretches, aerobics, yoga go a long way in relieving symptoms of osteoarthritis of knee,” he says.

In Goa, he adds, early arthritis is also observed in sportsmen usually footballers who have neglected ligament or meniscal injuries.

Genetics, he further adds, also plays an important role in development of arthritis, osteoarthritis as well as other inflammatory arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis. “There is often a tendency for self-medication which can be extremely dangerous and life-threatening,” he says.

Depending upon the degree of arthritis, lifestyle and age of the patient, there are clinically proven treatment options available. These include intra-articular injections, minimally invasive surgeries like arthroscopy, osteotomy to realign the deformed joint, and joint replacement.

“A knee replacement is usually recommended to a patient with complaints of severe pain requiring regular administering of painkillers as well as in patients with severe deformity,” he says.

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