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DNA India
17 February 2011
By Soumita Majumdar
Bangalore, India

What is giving the city’s orthopedics a high? A report states that 150 million Indians, about 15 % of the country’s population, suffer from arthritis. The orthopedics said that though the statistics reveal that the disease is on the rise, getting a statistical measure across India is difficult as the health ministry has yet to have a national statistics for osteoporosis or arthritis and their types. Also, the government has no registry on fractures. Doctors suggest that immediate measures are required to arrest this steady increase of fractures and arthritis.

"Arthritis is of two types. Osteoarthritis or age–related arthritis is now on the rise since human longevity has increased. And rheumatoid arthritis is seen more commonly among women as young as 30," said Dr RD Chakravorty, HoD, Orthopedics, Manipal Hospital.

There are several options for treating arthritis. "While sometimes, it is just physiotherapy and rest, it can also be managed with medication. In more serious cases, steroid or lubricant injections are given and at times, partial joint replacement or a keyhole surgery can be done. Total joint replacement surgery remainsthe last option and can be done on patients 50 to 55 years old or more," said

Dr Chakravorty. About 2–5% of arthritis cases require surgery, he added.

Though the actual cause remains unknown, modern lifestyle, obesity, lack of exercise, fast food consumption and diabetes are the predisposing factors that can lead to arthritis, said Dr HPC Khincha, with Khincha Orthopedic Centre. "The problem is that many people with serious arthritis problems do not seek treatment, while many others seek alternative treatment," he said.

With arthritis cases on the rise, it is about time the government pitched in. "Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have taken initiatives by paying `1 lakh to needy people undergoing joint or hip replacement. Similar initiatives are necessary from the state," said Dr Chakravorty. Also the government should introduce a quality control on Indian implants, he added.

Arthritis cannot be easily avoided, said Dr Manish Samson, orthopedic surgeon, Fortis Hospital. However, lifestyle and weight modification at an individual level can help delay this disease.

"Since rheumatoid arthritis affects people young, the government should take some initiative in bringing down the price of the drugs that help control rheumatoid arthritis. Also, since many people avoid taking treatment for arthritis, the government should introduce more public awareness programmes on the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis," added Dr Samson.

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