Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most devastating chronic conditions that affect people around the world. It is the most common type of arthritis seen in all age groups.
OA being a progressive joint disease in which cartilage that serves as a cushion between the joints break down and bony overgrowth occurs, resulting in stiffness and pain in joint for many.
It is considered to be the disease of the old age. But, the number of arthritic cases rapidly rising among younger population seen in the recent times indicate that it is no more an age related process.
Infact, studies show that 12% of population in age group 25-74 years is found to be having clinically defined OA of some joint.
Arthritic changes start long before its symptoms show up in the form of pain and stiffness in the joints with radiographic changes. There is another study that says that, by the age of 65, more than half of us will have X- ray evidence of OA.
OA being the number 1 source of pain in older population worries most of us. Various studies are focused on prevention of arthritis in young age. But, as they say, you can’t prevent developing OA if you live long. Fortunately, we can surely delay it a long time if we take care of certain things in our lifestyle, especially when we are young.
Various contributing factors in the development of OA:
- Heredity- An inherited defect in one of the genes responsible for making cartilage.
- Obesity- Increases the risk for osteoarthritis of the knee, hip and spine
- Injury- Broken bones, injuries or repeated injuries
- Joint Overuse- Repeated overuse activities put the joint to early wear and tear
- Other diseases- Inflammatory joint disease, like Rheumatoid Arthritis
Few very early signs of OA if noticed well in time can help you manage the severity of changes and most importantly delay the progression of symptoms. In early advancement, certain symptoms like Crunching in joint/ joints, stiffness or diminished range of motion and dull ache deep in the joint may come and go away. But as changes progress, these signs and symptoms become more prominent and start affecting one’s everyday life.
If you can just follow these six steps right now, you can surely prevent osteoarthritis or its progression.
No. 1: Control Weight- Maintaining an optimal weight. Weight loss of even 5% of body weight in overweight and obese population decreases stress on the knees, hips, and lower back
No. 2: Exercise- Getting involved in some kind of physical activity like low impact Biking, Swimming, Yoga, Pilates, non-stressful Weight lifting or Brisk Walking on smooth surfaces with comfortable shoes help maintain and improve muscle capacity
No. 3: Avoid Injuries or Get Them Treated- Timely intervention of treatment and proper rehabilitation post injuries help joints get back the structures to their normal, thus preventing any unwanted damage to the joints
No. 4: Eat Right- Maintaining a healthy diet and food habits keeps the bones, ligaments, muscles and other joint structures nourished and less prone to breakage
No. 5: Biomechanical Correction of faults- Posture and ergonomic care of the body in all activities and correction of any abnormal joint mechanics can save multitude of damage from internal or external trauma
No. 6: Proper Supplements- Vitamin D, calcium supplements can be taken regularly after certain age on advise of a physician. Chondroitin and glucosamine have no positive impact on joint pains but are claimed to be effective in diminishing the deterioration of joint cartilage
“Prevention is better than cure”, they say.
“If you are watchful today, the future will be bright” is the hope we all should keep for our better pain free half life.
by Dr. Hemlata Gupta (P.T.)