Does your knee cap constantly hurt? Does the pain increase when you rest? Or does the limb stiffen when you wake up in the morning? Well, all these are the early signs of arthritis. The term arthritis means inflammation of a joint. One of the most common types of arthritis is osteoarthritis which occurs due to the wearing down of the flexible tissue at the ends of the bone. This condition is observed mostly among people over the age of 50. But these days, even the younger population develop arthritis due to their sedentary lifestyle.
Globally, it is observed that 1 in 3 persons develop arthritis. However, the lesser known fact about this condition is arthritis is just an umbrella term for more than 100 types of rheumatic diseases. This World Arthritis Day, let us understand the early symptoms, causes of this condition and how can we maintain the overall wellness of our bones and joints.
Also read: Food and ingredients to cure arthritis!
The signs of arthritis to look out for are:
· Pain in joints: Few may experience this pain constantly and may be intermittent for others. This pain is experienced either in resting state or while walking or doing physical activity. The pain can be felt in other joints of the body also.
· Stiffness: If you are resting for a long time, you may experience stiffness in joints. Especially when are waking up in the morning or after driving or working for long hours, stiffness in neck, wrists, knees can be noticed.
· Difficulty in moving the joints: People with arthritis may face difficulty in getting up from a chair or extending their arm in backward direction.
· Swelling: Redness in the skin near the joint with swelling and warm feeling is also an early sign of arthritis.
Apart from the above, the other ignored signs for arthritis are, pain that doesn’t subside in 3-4 days, pain that interferes in daily activities. This is an indicator to consult your doctor.
But what are the factors that cause arthritis?
· Family history: Some types of arthritis are genetically occurring. If anyone in your immediate family is suffering from arthritis, you have to be cautious. Arthritis can also be passed on genetically.
· Age: People above the age group of 50 are more prone to develop arthritis due to the wear and tear of the joints.
· Gender factor: Women are more prone to arthritis due to hormonal changes and stress than men.
· Diabetes: People with diabetes are more prone to arthritis because high blood sugar promotes molecules that make cartilages stiffer leading to osteoarthritis
· Obesity: Knees take the whole weight of the body when you stand erect. When a person is overweight, the joints are under even more pressure. Hence, people with obesity are susceptible to arthritis, irrespective of their age.
Many of the diseases we are prone to today can be avoided or delayed by making small lifestyle changes and the same applies to arthritis too.
· Control your weight- As mentioned above, any extra weight will lead to excess stress on joints, knee caps. Therefore, limit your intake of fatty and unhealthy food.
· Eat healthy to prevent- Have a good calcium, omega and vitamin D rich diets, have loads of green leaves, milk as this food can prevent inflammation caused by arthritis.
· Take care of the knee injuries: Do not ignore your bone injuries. About half of the people suffer with arthritis due to traumatic joint injuries. So always get yourself checked if you have a bone injury.
· Exercise regularly: Physical activity is the best way to avoid stiffness and other signs of arthritis.
Following the right diet plan and exercising regularly can help you steer clear of arthritis.
(Disclaimer: The author is Dr Ravichandra Kelkar, Consultant- Orthopaedics, Columbia Asia Hospital Hebbal. Views expressed are a personal opinion.)