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Sakaal Times
15 October 2010

Dr Neeraj Adkar
Joint Replacement and Arthroscopy Surgeon

Here’s a lowdown on arthritis, which is affecting millions of Indians today:
Arthritis strikes women more often than men. Why?

Arthritis strikes women more than men, mainly because of their genetic predisposition.

What leads to osteoarthritis, which is one of the most prevalent chronic health problems affecting menopausal women?

Weak bones or osteoporosis leads to osteoarthritis. Early osteoarthritis is the wear and tear in articular cartilage. It is an age–related process. Due to genetic predisposition, some women may develop it at an early age. The articular wear and tear causes the underlying bones to rub against each other. This results in pain and swelling in and around the affected joint. Walking and weight–bearing activities tend to aggravate this situation.

Osteoarthritis starts with pain in the affected joint, swelling and advanced cases lead to deformity in the joint (bowing of leg).

Early stages of osteoarthritis can be effectively treated by medicine and physiotherapy, which includes heat therapy like IFT (interferential therapy) and other muscle–strengthening exercises. Advanced cases with badly damaged joints need joint replacement.

Can rheumatoid arthritis – considered as one of the most serious and disabling types of arthritis – be prevented?

No, it cannot be prevented. If detected early, long–term results can be achieved with medicine and physiotherapy.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a symmetrical arthritis, in most cases. It usually affects both knees, both elbows, or small joints of the hand, etc. It is associated with stiffness and excessive pain in the morning hours, which reduces as the day progresses. Swelling is also seen around the joint. Occasionally, only one joint may be affected in rheumatoid arthritis.

Anti inflammatory medication in the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis and disease modifying agent, DMARD (Disease Modifying Anti Rheumatoid Drug) show excellent result in symptomatic improvement. A short course of steroid is also sometimes required in severe cases. Chronic, severe and long standing rheumatoid arthritis needs joint replacement.

What is ankylosing spondylitis and fibromyalgia?

Ankylosing spondylitis is an autoimmune disorder spondylo arthropathy. It is commonly seen in young adults. In this arthritis, the patient often gets severe backache and hip joint arthritis. In long standing ankylosing spondylitis, the patient develops bamboo spine, which leads to severe restriction in back and neck movement. Fibromy is associated with neck pain and backache.

New methods of treatment
The possibility of stem cell treatment for osteoarthritis will be available in the coming decade, wherein we will be replacing worn out cartilage with new cartilage and not artificial implant.

To prevent arthritis you could have a balanced diet, keep your weight under control, exercise regularly and do warm–up and stretches before any sporting activity.

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