Mumbai: On World Arthritis Day which falls on October 12, the city rheumatologists have blamed lack of awareness for the increase in cases of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The chronic disease, which begins as a normal pain in smaller joints, gradually affects rest of the body if not treated early.
The doctors said that RA affects women three times more compared to men and youth between the age group of 18 to 30 are more prone to this disease. “If this is not treated immediately, it can damage the elastic tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint, as well as the bones themselves. Moreover, it occurs in women earlier compared to men,” said Dr. Miten Sheth, Orthopaedic Knee Surgeon.
He further stated, “One can get RA from any age starting from 16 and then there is juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) which is a subset of all children less than 16 with the same complaints.”
Dr. Rohini Samant, consultant rheumatology, P.D. Hinduja Hospital, “Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune starts attacking the body itself by affecting healthy joints causing inflammation of the tissue that protects them. That results in swelling, pain as well as discomfort.”
The doctors said if it is not treated timely it can affect other organs of the body including lungs and blood vessels.
“If not diagnosed in time, it may lead to deformities like crooked fingers, weakening of muscles of hands, which causes inability to pick and grasp things, weakening of joints like elbows and shoulders makes lifting difficult for the affected and the person can be bed-bound if the lower extremities are affected,” said Dr. Jyotsna Oak, consultant Rheumatology, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital.
Mutated genes may make you more susceptible to the disease. You can be more prone to rheumatoid arthritis if you are a woman. Family history, cold temperatures, humidity, or certain foods such as meat, foods containing saturated fat etc can all trigger the disease. Experts say there is no cure for RA but medication can reduce joint inflammation, relieve pain and slow or prevent the joint damage. Occupational and physical therapy can help protect joints from further damage. Certain exercises can keep your joints flexible.