This week is Arthritis Awareness week, which aims to raise awareness of this debilitating condition that affects 10 million people living in the UK including one in five adults.
Traditionally associated with older people, arthritis actually affects people of all ages. To illustrate, there are 12,000 children and around 27,000 under 25s living with arthritis in the UK.
With this in mind Asian Lite spoke to Mr Zameer Shah, Consultant Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgeon at London Bridge Hospital with a view of understanding the condition and providing expert advice to help those who may be affected:
What causes arthritis?
Arthritis is a group of inflammatory degenerative conditions affecting joints, large and small, and in the young and old. The most common are Osteoarthritis, usually referred to as wear and tear and Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder. There is a strong genetic association/predisposition in these conditions.
What are the treatment options available?
Most patients will be treated conservatively using a multidisciplinary approach involving anti-inflammatory medication, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. Although some cases may require surgery to eliminate the pain, correct deformity and restore function.
What are the risks of not treating the condition at all?
Arthritis is a progressive condition. We try to reduce its rate of progression with medication and therapy. If left untreated, it can ultimately destroy the joint so that the only option is that of joint replacement.
What are the possible side effects with taking medication?
Most of the medications used are relatively safe. Some of the stronger anti-inflammatory agents do have side effects and your doctor will monitor these with regular blood tests.
Would physical therapy help those affected with arthritis?
Exercise is vital for healthy joints and regular moderate exercise is best. Low impact is better than high impact activities for joints. We recommend walking, swimming, cycling, rowing and cross training. Yoga and Pilates can also be very helpful for patients. The exercise also helps with keeping a healthy heart and maintaining muscle – both of which are beneficial in them and for any future surgery.
Are there any lifestyle changes that you would recommend?
The benefits of living a healthy balanced lifestyle are well established. Keeping weight within the recommended levels for height, regular exercise, stopping smoking and reducing alcohol consumption are hugely beneficial for overall health and will also benefit patients with arthritis.