Arthritis, a term encompassing a group of over 100 joint disorders, affects millions of people worldwide, including a significant portion of the Indian population. Characterized by inflammation, pain, and limited mobility, arthritis poses a considerable challenge to those living with it. The prevalence of arthritis is higher among the elderly, but it can also affect young adults and even children.

Arthritis can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life. At its initial stage, arthritis typically manifests itself through joint pain, swelling and noisy joints. During later stages, physical movement of joints may become difficult, leading to reduced mobility, loss of productivity and increased healthcare costs.

This blog emphasises on the critical facts regarding this disease, and provides effective strategies for coping with the condition.

Prevalence of Arthritis in India

India, with its diverse population and varying healthcare accessibility, experiences a substantial burden of arthritis cases. It is estimated that around 15% to 20% of the Indian population is affected by arthritis, with the prevalence increasing with age.

According to private studies, more than 180 million people in India were affected by arthritis in 2017. Numbers also showed that almost 14% of the Indian population sought medical attention for this joint illness each year. While these figures have risen dramatically in the last six years, the prevalence of arthritis remains higher than that of diabetes, AIDS, and cancer.

Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common forms observed in the Indian population.

 Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Rheumatoid arthritis affects approximately 0.5% to 1% of the Indian population. This autoimmune disorder demonstrates itself through joint pain, swelling, and deformities if not managed effectively.

 Osteoarthritis (OA)

Osteoarthritis is the second most common rheumatologic problem in India, and it is the most common joint illness, with a frequency ranging from 22% to 39% prevalent in India. Knee and hip osteoarthritis are common due to factors like ageing, obesity, and lack of physical activity.

Effective strategies for managing Arthritis

Medical management

Studies indicate that people with arthritis who see a rheumatologist — doctors who specialize in conditions that cause painful swelling in joints and muscles — are able to stay on top of the disease. Early detection can assist to avoid irreversible joint injury. Medications, including pain relievers and disease-modifying medications, play an important role in symptom management and disease progression.

Lifestyle modifications

A sedentary lifestyle can actually make symptoms of arthritis worse. Maintaining a healthy weight reduces stress on joints, especially weight-bearing ones. Regular exercise, under proper guidance, can improve joint flexibility, strengthen muscles, and improve range of motion. Swimming, cycling, Pilates, and yoga are popular choices for individuals with arthritis. Research by the Arthritis Foundation validates that yoga poses, deep breathing exercises help to relax lower joint tenderness and swelling for some people with arthritis.

Dietary choices

Dietary changes are the cornerstone of good arthritis management. Diet, according to research, can influence inflammation. Fish and flaxseeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory qualities. A healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats promotes joint health.

Traditional practices

Some alternative remedies can give pain relief for people suffering from arthritis, but there is little reliable evidence to support the use of many of these products. Heat and cold therapies, massage, acupuncture, tai chi etc. may increase blood flow and warm affected joints, temporarily relieving pain. Ayurveda, an ancient Indian medical system, provides arthritis therapies such as herbal cures and massages. However, it is critical to seek the guidance of experienced practitioners and to combine traditional practices with modern medical advice.

Psychosocial support

Living with a chronic ailment such as arthritis can have a negative impact on your emotional well-being. Regular check-ups allow you to share any emotional issues you may be experiencing and, if necessary, obtain help or referrals to mental health professionals. Connecting with support groups or seeking counseling can also help to reduce the emotional toll of arthritis.

Adapting your environment

Make changes to your living environment to improve mobility by installing handrails, employing ergonomic furniture, and using assistive equipment to make daily activities less difficult.

Regular check-ups

Establishing a strong rapport with your healthcare provider is essential for effective arthritis management. Regular check-ups foster this relationship and enable you and your healthcare provider to work together to create a tailored treatment plan that addresses your unique needs. By staying proactive, monitoring your condition, and making adjustments as necessary, you can minimize the impact of arthritis on your daily life and maintain the best possible quality of life.

Closing thoughts

Arthritis is a complicated disease that necessitates extensive self-management. It requires a holistic approach to live a better life while minimising the effects of the ailment.  Given that each person’s arthritis experience is unique; hence, a personalized approach is critical to getting the greatest possible outcomes. With early diagnosis, most types of arthritis can be properly managed and the pain and disability minimized.

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