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Arthritis needs early diagnosis; timely treatment can prevent major complications

 Hyderabad,FASTMAIL - World Arthritis Day is celebrated on October 12 every year to raise awareness of the painful medical condition, arthritis. Arthritis is the term used for any inflammation of the joint which causes damage to the joint resulting in pain, deformity and disability. There are more than 200 specific diseases which fall under the umbrella term arthritis. Arthritis of various types can affect people of any age from childhood to the elderly. This year the theme for World Arthritis Day is "Don't Delay, Connect Today: Time2work”.

The biggest challenge in the management of arthritis is early diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Most of the complications can be avoided by early appropriate treatment. Allied specialities like physiotherapy, occupational therapy, psychotherapy, rheumatologist, and trained nurses, form an important part of the overall management.

The cause of arthritis may be hereditary, unhealthy lifestyle, injury, obesity, age related, metabolic causes, infection etc. Of these causes some are non-modifiable like hereditary causes, age-related, etc. But there are other significant risk factors which are modifiable. Of these, the most important are healthy lifestyle, exercise and weight management. These will, to a large extent, reduce the severity of the disease and give a better quality of life.

“Early diagnosis is key to preventing further damage, but arthritis often receives delayed or no diagnosis. This is often due to a lack of awareness. It is important to know the symptoms of arthritis, and to contact a doctor if one has concerns. If not treated appropriately, daily activities get affected – reducing peoples’ quality of life and affecting physical abilities,” said Dr C Kamaraj, Senior Orthoscopic Surgeon, Kamineni Hospitals, Hyderabad.

 “The popular quote of ‘Prevention is better than cure ’cannot be more appropriate for any other disease than arthritis for "MOVEMENT IS LIFE AND LIFE IS MOVEMENT," Dr Kamaraj added.

One of the most common causes of arthritis in the elderly is osteoarthritis or degenerative arthritis. This commonly affects the knee joint and the hip. Weight management and exercise in advanced stages of arthritis, physiotherapy, supports to the joint, walking aids and physical therapy help in preventing the severity of the disease to a large extent. Various surgical options like arthroscopy, and high tibial osteotomy can also help preserve the joints and reduce the pain.

Other procedures like stem cell therapy show a promising future but require further study for standardization. For localised cartilage defects, cartilage transplant surgery is also helpful. Various drugs are also available for cartilage regeneration but are of doubtful value.

In many advanced stages of Osteoarthritis where medical treatment and physical therapy are not useful Total Joint Replacement Surgery is a very successful alternative. Total Joint Replacement for either the hip or the knee is one of the most successful surgeries in Orthopaedic practice. It has been in practice for 40-50 years and has a predictable result. After the surgery the patient can have pain-free joint and it significantly improves the quality of life. Apart from a few restrictions like avoiding squatting, the patient can do all normal activities, including mild sport activities.

To conclude, let us all work together to increase the awareness about arthritis among the general public so that early diagnosis and treatment can prevent major complications and reduce the need for surgical intervention.

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