Dr Pradeep Aggarwal
Prevention is the key to safeguard your joints. If you are a smoker, quit smoking as tobacco intake increases inflammation and the body finds it difficult to heal from injury.
Say goodbye to energy drinks and soda
Consume a good amount of water. Water makes for 80% of cartilage in joints. How much water one should drink? Consume water when thirsty, especially in hot weather and after physical exertion.
Shed extra pounds
An additional 10 pounds of body weight add approximately 40 pounds to each knee. Planning diet and exercise are important. Diet should be a mix of fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains and healthy fats. Regular exercise includes cycling, pilates, planks, swimming, horizontal treadmill, walking and yoga.
Pilates, also called contrology, is a physical fitness system developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates. It is a method of exercise consisting of low-impact flexibility and muscular strength and endurance movement. Pilates emphasises proper postural alignment, core strength and muscular balance. Pilates may be beneficial in arthritis, back pain, joint injuries, respiratory conditions and urinary incontinence.
Yoga has been around for at least 3,000 years. It is concentrated around five beliefs:
- Proper relaxation
- Positive thinking and meditation
Mindfulness and deep breathing are key features in yoga practice. Yoga has a positive effect in anxiety, depression, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, hypertension, respiratory conditions, back pain and diabetes. Don’t hurt yourself while doing yoga in a wrong way.
Both yoga and pilates require minimum equipment and can be done easily in a home setting.
Planking exercise is another beautiful tool. This involves your core muscles, improving your strength, balance and endurance. You can strengthen your body like a plank of wood. It does not need any weights or extra equipment.
Walking, warm-up and cooling down are as important. If you are a runner, then instead of running on grass alone, run on a variety of surfaces. Don’t forget low-impact cardio. Apply heat and massage during weekends as a routine.
Warm-up exercises are particularly important for ageing joints. Do not ignore muscle soreness after exercise.
Correct your posture
While sitting, ensure that knees should be a bit higher than your hips and try to keep legs at 90° angle.
If joint pain develops and is more than muscle soreness which tends to settle with home remedies like cold application and exercises, watch for early osteoarthritis.
What if joint pain develops despite all these measures?
See your orthopod. He will examine and assess and suggest remedial measures, including temporary painkillers and dietary supplements which increase lubrication of joints. Weight reduction and an exercise plan are integral components. Majority of patients do well if they follow advice religiously. Any additional causes like high uric acid and rheumatoid arthritis should be treated simultaneously. Progression of osteoarthritis, which means degeneration of joint cartilage and the underlying bone producing deformities, is at least slowed down if not arrested completely. But if due to same inherent reasons, one gets osteoarthritis, do take note. You don’t have to suffer. It is manageable.
If pain is disturbing you physically, functionally and recreationally, we do consider operation. In India, one crore people get osteoarthritis annually. In mid-level affection called uni compartmental osteoarthritis, two type of operations are available: high tibial osteotomy and unicondylar knee replacement. Both have their pros and cons but are successful. If osteoarthritis is severe, then total knee replacement is a highly successful surgical remedy available. Post replacement operations, which actually are resurfacing involving minimal bonecuts, the patient walks on the first day itself. Luckily, we have promising implants lasting 30 years or so.
So, be ready with a plan to ward off and fight joint pain.
Knee pain is a huge health hazard in India. A whopping 15 crore plus people suffer from knee pain. About 4 crore people need replacement surgery. But see here how much is available: only 1,50,000 surgeries in an year. This underlines the necessity of prevention of osteoarthritis by every available means. It also points towards creating better facilities, infrastructure and policies to perform knee surgeries for such a huge backlog.
Knees “serve as your wheels”. So do take care.
The writer is chairman, orthopaedics and joint replacement surgery, at Paras Hospital, Panchkula. The views are personal
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