Arthritis is a painful disease that affects one or more joints of the human body. The disease leads to joint pain and stiffness, further hampering the day-to-day activities of an individual. If not treated on time, the condition restricts the range of movement and affects functional life.
As the world observes World Arthritis Day every year on October 12 to raise awareness about rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases, Dr Manan Vora, Sports Medicine Expert & Orthopaedic Surgeon explains all about the disease, types of arthritis and about maintaining a correct lifestyle to stay away from arthritis.
Q1. How many types of arthritis are there?
Arthritis basically refers to swelling or inflammation of one or more joints. The most common symptoms are joint pain and joint stiffness. There are more than a hundred conditions that can be classified, eventually, under arthritis, but the two most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The other kinds of arthritis apart from osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis include lupus, gout, infective and reactive arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and spondyloarthropathies. These are the other common types, but otherwise there can be over a hundred conditions which are related to arthritis.
Q2. Is younger generation much affected by the arthritis?
Arthritis can affect the younger generations and younger people, however it depends on the type of arthritis. Osteoarthritis for example, is seen in the older generation since it’s a degenerative disease. However, in certain cases early osteoarthritis is possible if there has been wear-and-tear of the joint due to another condition, for example an injury. Gout, similarly, is seen in the older population.
However, rheumatoid arthritis, being an autoimmune disease, does affect young adults. The other thing is juvenile arthritis which is basically an arthritis that appears during childhood. The most common kind is juvenile idiopathic arthritis and we see that happening in the younger population.
Q3. What are the measures for those who are already suffering from arthritis?
There could not be any preventive measures for someone who has already got a disease. So, I’m going to talk about certain lifestyle changes that people can incorporate to ensure they don’t get arthritis which is to stop smoking because smoking definitely has an effect, especially in a patient of rheumatoid arthritis.
When it comes to osteoarthritis, exercise is something that definitely can be incorporated as a lifestyle change to ensure that your muscles are in good shape and your joints and bones stay healthy.
And the third thing and very important risk factor is obesity. Thus, to maintain an ideal body weight is crucial. So the importance of nutrition, a good, balanced diet, calorie…controlled…portion controlled meals that help you stay in shape and as close to an ideal body weight as possible to help prevent obesity. These are the lifestyle changes: exercise, diet, not smoking. This is what people need to keep in mind.
Q4. Since a large number of patients fear knee replacement, how much safe it is exactly?
Knee replacements in 2022 have become an extremely safe and viable option for people to consider in end stage osteoarthritis of the knee. And there are a lot of myths surrounding it and its safety, but the success rate is extremely high. If you are getting operated by an experienced and reliable surgeon and he has taken all the precautions- he or she has taken all the precautions that are necessary to carry out a successful surgery, there is absolutely no problem in it.
First, all conservative methods should be tried in terms of medication, physical therapy, braces, knee interventions, and only once all of them fail should knee replacement surgery be considered for end stage or for grade 4 osteoarthritis which we call as bone-on-bone disease. It’s an extremely safe procedure to carry out and apart from the regular risks that any surgery has, the results are extremely satisfactory from an orthopedic point of view.
Q5. What are the initial signs of arthritis?
Once again the signs of arthritis generally depend on the type of arthritis, but in this case we’ll be talking about osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis where there is generally pain, inflammation and swelling.
There could be redness of a particular joint. In rheumatoid arthritis, more than one joint is typically involved and it’s usually the smaller joints of the hand and wrist that are otherwise involved. There’s mobility problems and restriction of movement of a particular joint that is also seen. These are the signs of the main types of arthritis.
Q6. What is the special message for people of different age groups on World Arthritis Day?
The message for people of different age groups on World Arthritis Day is go out and exercise! The American heart association recommends 150 minutes of exercise per week which is just 30 minutes of exercise per day for five days a week, which isn’t asking for too much.
Take this step for yourself and your body so that you don’t suffer from various lifestyle related diseases in the future, you don’t suffer from degenerative problems like osteoarthritis in the future.
When it comes to rheumatoid arthritis, the message would be to be alert and aware of initial and early signs which could be pain, swelling, inflammation, redness of multiple joints in your body for which you need to go to your orthopedic and get evaluated so that you are diagnosed early and put on the correct medication.
Apart from that, avoid smoking, exercise and maintain an ideal body weight with correct nutrition. That is the message to everyone!