World Arthritis Day, 2021: Laying Out Facts and Busting Myths

World Arthritis Day, 2021: Laying Out Facts and Busting Myths

Highlights:

  • Motive: To promote awareness of rheumatoid and musculoskeletal arthritis.
  • Symptoms to look out for, a potential treatment of common types of arthritis
  • Crushing the Myths and laying down facts
  • A glance at the statistics

What is Arthritis?

In a view to spreading awareness around the debilitating rheumatoid arthritis and musculoskeletal disorders, World Arthritis Day is celebrated year after year, on October 12th. Arthritis is an umbrella term that entails over 100 diseases primarily involving joint inflammation or disintegration. The most recurrent ones include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The European Alliance of Associations For Rheumatology estimates that over 100 million individuals go undiagnosed and this adversely impacts their quality of life.

Regardless of the category, there are a host of common symptoms that one affected with arthritis experiences. To cite a few – recurring pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints, restricted range of motion, fatigue, inexplicable weight loss, colour of skin turns slightly red around the affected joints. Treatment usually consists of medication for pain relief, physical therapy to aid movement, assistive devices like splints, leg braces or special footwear, and surgery.

The Common Types of Arthritis

Though osteoarthritis predominantly affects the elderly, yet, it can also develop around the 20s or 30s on account of genetic precursors, overuse of the joints, or joint injury. Osteoarthritis wears down the cartilage, leading to the bones rubbing against each other and gradually causing joint inflammation as well as limited range of mobility. The symptoms worsen over time. However, treatment and mild physical activity can help keep the affected individual active.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. It is chronic, disabling, and in addition to joints, can affect other body organs, like the heart, eyes, and lungs. It is a common occurrence among people aged 30 to 50 years. Women are at a higher risk of developing this type of arthritis along with increased severity of pain. Arthritis Foundation suggests rheumatoid arthritis chiefly occurs in middle-aged women (30-50 years of age). The drop in estrogen following menopause increases women’s risk of developing osteoarthritis.

The body’s own immune system attacks the smaller joints first before moving on to the larger ones. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that the symptoms appear on similar joints on both sides of the body. Individuals with rheumatoid arthritis are mostly encouraged to remain active, maintain moderate weight, and safeguard their joints from injury.

Mapping out the myths and facts

MythsFacts
Only the elderly have arthritis  All age groups are susceptible to developing the disease on account of various reasons – overuse of joints, genetic inheritance, injur to joints, etc.
“My joints hurt, I think I have arthritis”  No, this is untrue. There might be other plausible explanations for the joint pain like tendinitis, bursitis, and injuries. It is always best to seek medical opinion to be sure.
          Exercise worsens arthritis  Again, consulting your doctor before taking up any regimen is crucial. In cases of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, mild exercise or physical activity can help maintain the range of motion in the joints.
  Also, studies report people affected with arthritis, who incorporate exercise suffer less pain, higher energy and enhanced sleep quality.
Arthritis is unavoidable  Age, genetic endowment, gender, bone density are not controllable but, onset of arthritis can be prevented by eliminating high risk factors. Eg. Maintain stable bodyweight, quitting or limiting smoking, shielding joints from injury during physical activities.

Arthritis Statistics:

Over 350 million people, globally are affected by arthritis. In India, arthritis is far more prevalent than diabetes, AIDS, and cancer. According to the National Health Portal of India, osteoarthritis has a prevalence of 22-39% in India and is more common in women. Obesity and sedentary act as catalysts in the development of osteoarthritis.

Dr. M Naveen Chandar Reddy, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Apollo Spectra Hospitals said “Arthritis is the most common joint disease affecting people in the age group above 50 years leading to decreased quality of life. Its prevalence is approximately 30-40% in India and is more common in women compared to men”

Incorporating a few lifestyle changes can help keep arthritis in check. These include:

  • Maintaining a healthy body weight. Excessive weight, especially in the hips and back increases vulnerability to the disease.
  • Avoid high heels as they misalign the back and strain the muscles.
  • Avoid texting for long hours as it can have detrimental effects on your hands, fingers, and shoulders.
  • Replace processed foods with whole grains, fruits, and nuts.
  • Keep a check on vitamin B12 levels. Consult a doctor if there is a large deficit.

Adding more vegetables to the diet along with intake of rotis/chapatis made from jowar, raagi, bajra and nachani work wonders for people with arthritis, as they are rich in nutrients that help bring down joint pain.

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Kumkum Pattnaik

Kumkum’s knack for scrutiny coupled with her passion to serve quality content, has been a constant motivator for her to pursue content writing. In addition to being a ferocious researcher and an inquisitive soul, she firmly believes in making a difference in people’s lives with her articles. When she isn’t scanning the web amassing information, she loves to indulge in yoga or head out for a quick run.

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