Osteo arthritis or joint degeneration is crippling Indian population. Patients suffering with this condition are increasing alarmingly. A recent pan-India health survey reveals that osteoarthritis has emerged as the numero uno ailment in India, even trouncing traditional heavyweights like AIDS, diabetes, cancer and hypertension, even trouncing traditional heavyweights like AIDS, diabetes, cancer and hypertension.
The survey titled ‘TNS Arogya 2006-07 The Health Monitor’ conducted by TNS, an ISO-accredited market research agency in Delhi, in October 2007, was carried out across 15 cities – Delhi, Lucknow, Ludhiana, Jaipur, Varanasi, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Cochin, Kolkata, Patna, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Nagpur and Indore. According to the study, in the age band of 25 to 35 years, osteoarthritis is the second most prevalent disease in India after diabetes. Despite this, reports the study, awareness amongst Indians about the bone ailment is almost nil as compared to high profile diseases like cancer, AIDS and diabetes.
The objectives of the TNS annual survey are to map the stated prevalence rates of important diseases in India and to calculate the stated incidence rates for commonly occurring ailments in the country. This research is a pointer to the healthcare habits of Indians their attitudes towards well-being and preferences for Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines for common ailments.
Osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease (DJD) is a common rheumatological disorder. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 70 million Indians are its victims, nearly 80 per cent of them above 75 years. Although the symptoms occur earlier in women, the prevalence of osteoarthritis among men and women is at par, say experts.
Osteo arthritis has become a common phenomenon in the urban population. It is also steadily growing in the rural population. Once thought as old man’s disease is striking young generation.
Often called “wear and tear” arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis in the world over. In most cases, over time, cartilage in joints breaks down, and OA symptoms begin to occur. OA is most commonly found in the:
Hands and fingers
Wrists, elbows, shoulders, and ankles can also be affected by OA, but this occurs less frequently. When OA is found in these joints, there may have been a history of injury or stress to that joint.
Typically, OA comes on slowly. For many, the first signs are joints that ache after physical work or exercise. As the disease progresses, other most common symptoms include:
- Pain in a joint
- Swelling or tenderness in one or more joints
- Stiffness after periods of inactivity, such as sleeping or sitting
- Flare-ups of pain and inflammation after use of the affected joint
- Crunching feeling or sound of bone rubbing on bone (called crepitus) when the joint is used
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk to your doctor to find out if you have OA. It most often occurs in the following areas:
Because knees are primarily weight-bearing joints, they are very commonly affected by OA. If you have OA in your knees, you may feel that these joints are stiff, swollen, and painful, making it hard to walk, climb, and get in and out of chairs and bathtubs.
OA in the hip can cause pain, stiffness, and severe disability. Hips both support the weight of the body and enable movement of your lower body. When you have OA in your hips, you may also feel the pain in your groin, inner thigh, or knees. OA in the hip can lead to difficulty moving, bending, and walking.
Fingers and Hands
When OA occurs in hands and fingers, the base of the thumb joint is commonly affected and people experience stiffness, numbness, and aching. Other symptoms of hand and finger OA include:
- Heberden’s nodes: small bony knobs that appear on the end joints of fingers.
- Bouchards’s nodes: small bony knobs that appear on the middle joints of fingers
If you have OA of the spine, you may experience stiffness and pain in the neck or in the lower back. Sometimes arthritis-related changes in the spine can put pressure on the nerves, causing weakness or numbness in your arms or legs.
What causes osteoarthritis?
While the exact cause of OA is unknown, joint damage can be due to repetitive movement (also known as “wear and tear”). It can also begin as the result of an injury. Either way, with OA there’s erosion of the cartilage, the part of the joint that covers the ends of the bones.
- Cartilage acts as a shock absorber, allowing the joint to move smoothly.
- As cartilage breaks down, the ends of the bones thicken and the joint may lose its normal shape.
- With further cartilage breakdown, the ends of the bones may begin to rub together, causing pain.
- In addition, damaged joint tissue can cause the release of certain substances called prostaglandins, which can also contribute to the pain and swelling characteristic of the disease.
Here are some factors that may increase your risk of developing OA:
Age is the strongest risk factor for OA. Although OA can start in young adulthood, in these cases, it is often due to joint injury.
OA affects both men and women. However, before age 45, OA occurs more frequently in men; after age 45, OA is more common in women.
Joint injury or overuse caused by physical labor or sports.
Traumatic injury to a joint increases your risk of developing OA in that joint. Joints that are used. repeatedly in certain jobs may be more likely to develop OA because of injury.
The chances of getting OA generally increase with the amount of weight the body’s joints have to bear. The knee is particularly affected because it is a major weight-bearing joint.
People with joints that don’t move or fit together correctly, like bowlegs, dislocated hips, or double- jointedness, are more likely to develop OA in those joints.
An inherited defect in one of the genes responsible for manufacturing cartilage may be a contributing factor in developing OA.
If you experience joint pain, stiffness, and/or swelling that won’t go away, you should make an appointment to see your doctor. Your doctor will be able to determine if you have arthritis and, if so, what type.
When you see your doctor about your symptoms, he or she may ask questions about when and how you started experiencing them. The doctor will probably give you a physical examination to check your general health, and examine the joints that are bothering you.
You may also need other tests to help confirm the diagnosis of OA and determine the extent and severity of joint damage. Some of these may include:
X-rays can help the doctor determine whether you have OA or rheumatoid arthritis (RA). A series of X-rays obtained over time can show how fast joint damage is progressing. X-rays of the affected joints can show cartilage loss, bone damage, and extra bone growth (known as bone spurs) that can develop on the surface of normal bones.
If doctor is still uncertain your about the diagnosis or suspects that you may have an infection, he or she may perform joint aspiration. In this procedure, your doctor withdraws and examines synovial fluid (a liquid that lubricates the joint) from affected joints using a needle.
If you are experiencing some of these symptoms, the sooner you talk to your doctor, the sooner you may get diagnosed and get treatment.
What’s behind the OA Scenario?
India, a place of work and worship, is crippling due to over exposure of foreign culture. It does not mean that we should oppose foreign culture but we should not leave our tradition. Our traditions are scientific, intended for healthy living.
Globalization is turning out to be the major destructor of health. More and more sophistication and comforts are leading us to become more and more sedentary. Unhealthy food and food that does not suit our lifestyle and environment is invading our kitchens. All these factors are the major causative factors that are making Indian population suffer not only with osteoarthritis but with many other life.