A 32-year-old woman, Anita was a successful professional, but what really put a cramp on her fast-paced day was her constantly aching knees. While she didn’t think much of the pain, she made it a point to visit her doctor; who told her that her knee pain was a symptom of arthritis. Shocked at how an ailment usually associated with the aged had affected her, Anita’s doctor informed her that this was a fairly common occurrence in today’s generation who live in times where obesity, poor lifestyle and the lack of physical exercise are the norm.
So, while we all have been told how the inactive and sedentary lives we live can affect our health, did you know that your bones were in danger of bearing all the brunt of your bad lifestyle decisions? Well, according to Dr Rajeev K Sharma, Senior Consultant, Orthopedics and Joint Replacement Surgeon, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, ‘ Although arthritis or the damage that sets up in our joints is considered a problem associated with ageing, we are now seeing a rise in number of younger patients grappling with osteoarthritis and other problems of the joints and ligaments in India . Loss of cartilage, depleting calcium, wear and tear of the ligaments and obesity – all contribute to the onset of arthritis.’
With a regular stream of young patients visiting his clinic with bone and joint ailments that commonly afflict older patients, Dr Rajeev is of the opinion that this spurt is a part of a lifestyle disorder syndrome.
What is osteoartritis and arthritis?
As we age, the cartilage surrounding our bones and joints wears down due to persistent, sometimes excessive use. This causes degeneration of the joints that we refer to as osteoarthritis.
How is a sedentary lifestyle to blame?
Walking to work, cycling to school or college, taking stairs rather than elevators – all these activities that were a regular part of the last generation have ceased to exist in our lives of today. Unfortunately, they have not been replaced by an adequate consciousness about the need for regular exercise. This results in weak muscles and bones, leading to joint and bone ailments.
What leads to the early onset of bone and joint ailment?
Obesity: A major cause of early wear and tear of joints, obesity leads to quicker and earlier wear and tear of joints. Excess weight multiplies the pressure on one’s joints, hurting the cartilage in the process. Keeping your weight under check is hence a major necessity from the point of view of bone and joint health.
Lack of Exercise: As a generation dependent on technology, we risk making our bodies obsolete. It is important to understand that our bones, muscles, ligaments, and cartilage all come together to form a complex system that allows us mobility and an effective life. Much like in a machine, lack of recommended amount of use can lead to problems with the body’s system. Muscles will start growing weaker if they are not strengthened with workouts and exercise; ligament and cartilage too can start withering away early if they are underused or overused. The former is the problem with our generation.
Injuries: An injury to a joint can sometimes have dramatic effects. When the cartilage or ligament suffers a tear or cut and is not repaired in time, it may impair the knee joint. This often happens to sportspersons who play without supervision of a physio or trainer. When left untreated or diagnosed for a long time, a ligament tear may develop into a serious joint issue, necessitating knee replacement. Lack of awareness about safe playing, avoiding injuries and the need for warming up before throwing yourself into the game can result in such injuries.
Defect in the alignment of legs: Structural bowing of legs is one of the main reasons for early Osteoarthritis in our population. This may be a genetically predisposed condition as well. Defect in alignment of legs such as bow legs causes wear more on one side often leads to osteoarthritis. An old injury that may have caused an irregularity in the shape of the opposing surfaces on the knee may degenerate the cartilage earlier, resulting in arthritis.
Finally, Dr Rajeev says, ‘ While the number of young patients of arthritis might still be a bare 10 per cent at our clinic but even this is significant because young people are essentially the future of a country, and arthritis results in loss of productivity. While we see a lot of discussion about cardiovascular diseases and diabetes afflicting the young, we rarely see people talk about osteoarthritis and osteoporosis depleting the ranks of our young workforce.’
Image source: Getty Images
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Published: October 31, 2015 11:30 am | Updated:October 31, 2015 11:44 am
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