Osteoarthritis affects many people, but there are many misconceptions associated with the condition. We get experts to throw more light on the issue.
Shekhar had always been an active person. Apart from his regular gymming schedule, he would also participate in marathons and cycling rallies. He was also a stickler for a healthy diet. However, as he approached his 50s, he began to notice that he couldn’t be as agile as earlier, and no, this was no age-related slowdown. His knees were starting to bother him, and the pain got so bad that he finally agreed to visit a doctor. A series of tests later he was diagnosed with osteoarthritis.
“Osteoarthritis is a degenerative process. A normal person injures his cartilage in his day-to-day activities. However, the body can repair this damage. But, in people with osteoarthritis, the body’s ability to repair this cartilage damage is defective. It is one of the commonest forms of arthritis,” explains Dr K. J. Reddy, Senior Orthopedic Consultant and Knee Specialist.
Osteoarthritis is generally seen in middle-aged people. According to Dr Reddy, there are two types of osteoarthritis, primary and secondary. “The primary kind occurs later in life, usually after the age of 50 years. The secondary kind, as the name suggests, is secondary to a pre-existing condition. For instance, an accident that damages the knee joint is likely to result in osteoarthritis. Or for that matter an infection in the joints, deformity due to rickets, Fluorosis or abnormal weight bearing on the joints can all lead to osteoarthritis,” he says.
Osteoarthritis usually occurs with pain, stiffness, and swelling around the joints. As the ailment progresses, it can lead to complete stiffness of the joints. A person with osteoarthritis will have decreased mobility and climbing stairs or sitting on the floor will be rather difficult for them.
“There are four stages of this ailment. While stage 1 can be treated with medication and physiotherapy, stages 2 and 3 can be treated with stem cell therapy or joint fluid injections. Arthroscopic surgery or endoscopic surgery can be done to preserve the knee and also repair it. However, in stage 4, the damage is complete, and a knee replacement surgery is required,” further adds Dr Reddy.
“While the condition cannot be reversed, its progression can be slowed down,” says Dr Reddy. “Research is still on to find a way to reverse the condition. However, physiotherapy is of key importance in the treatment, as it helps build muscle strength. This way, the load can be borne by the muscles and not the joints alone.”