Don’t let arthritis restrict your movement: Here's how you can deal with the disease

Prof. (Dr.) Pradeep B. Bhosale

Living with arthritis can be tricky. “I cannot make rotis or cook anymore due to my arthritis!” “I am unable to pick up my grandchild because of my arthritis.” “My arthritis is giving me too much trouble and I cannot go out for my daily walk.” This is what most people with arthritis keep complaining about. Is it actually true? Should you really be inactive and stay indolent once you develop arthritis?

The answer is NO! Over 15% of our population or approximately 180 million Indians suffer from arthritis. Considering such massive prevalence, arthritis can be considered as just another age-related degenerative process like greying or sensory deprivation. Thus, letting arthritis restrict your mobility and active lifestyle is never advisable.

Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more joints in your body. The common symptoms include joint pain and stiffness which keep worsening with time. Osteoarthritis is a common disease that affects old aged people. As per the statistics provided by the World Health Organization (WHO), about 9.6% men and 18% women over 60 years of age have symptoms related to arthritis. Of these, about 80% have restriction of movement and the other 25% are unable to perform their daily routine activities.

Due to arthritis, the joint spaces are reduced and the fluid between the joints decreases. This makes the joints susceptible to more degeneration. The shock-absorbing capacity of the cartilage decreases and the friction in the joints increases. This causes the stiffness and inflammation in the cartilage around the joint. The stiffness once settled into your joints, can lead to inability to move or do daily tasks.

Hence, moving is a must, despite your arthritis. Think of it like this, you have a door which has got rusted and requires constant oiling. Would you just let it remain that way? Or would you oil it regularly and try to use the door daily to make it more flexible? Physiotherapy and exercises help reduce the pain caused by the stiffness and thereby improve joint motion. The more you move, the more synovial fluid is present in the joints. This helps oil your joints and makes the movements smoother. Exercise also helps boost your energy levels, prevents falls, injuries, improves shock absorption and increases strength and support of the joints.

Continuing to move is the only way you can fight this degenerative process. Do not stop exercising or any of your routine activities.

If you have arthritis, this is what you must do to stay fit and active:

  1. Consult an orthopaedic physician and come up with a proper long-term exercise and treatment plan.

  2. Keep moving. Stay on the go. Do not stop your activity. Even if you feel that pain, continue your exercises and routine activities.

  3. Incorporate daily walking, stretching, strengthening, and balance boosting exercises for your trunk, arms, back, and legs.

(The writer is Director — Arthritis and Joint Replacement Surgery, Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital)

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