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Expert Article: Ageing Is Not The Only Cause For Arthritis Of The Joint; Read About The Other Causes

By Dr Susan Jennifer

'As you age, you are bound to have aches and pains at your joints' is most commonly said by elderly people.

Is ageing the only cause for joint aches? Degenerative changes are an inevitable consequence of ageing because of the normal wear and tear of the joint. But it's NOT the only cause of joint aches or arthritis of the joint. The way we take care of our body plays a huge role in preventing and, to a larger extent, in prolonging the early onset of degenerative changes in the joints.

Along with ageing, the other factors that cause early onset of arthritis are:

1. Posture

When we sustain ourselves in a position for a longer time, there will be a lot of strain on the muscles and the joints, which helps hold that particular position. After a point in time, the muscles and joints start aching because of overusing the muscles and pressurizing the joints. Constant use of the same muscle and joints can weaken them and cause early onset of arthritis.

The low back was the most common musculoskeletal pain area because of long sitting hours and poor ergonomics. Furthermore, during the quarantine, a significantly higher low back pain intensity was reported. The low back pain point prevalence before the quarantine was 38.8 per cent and 43.8 per cent after the quarantine in research conducted on 'Impact of COVID-19 Quarantine on Low Back Pain Intensity, Prevalence, and Associated Risk Factors among Adult Citizens' in 2020 [1].

2. Weak Muscles

Muscles are the dynamic movers, and ligaments are the static movers of the joints. Since weak muscles cannot perform their work by helping in moving the joints, it starts loading the ligaments and cartilage, which goes through wear and tear and hence leads to arthritis. It also reduces bone density.

A research was conducted by the Rheumatic Disease Clinic of North America on 'The role of Muscle weakness in the pathogenesis of Osteoarthritis' (Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis) [2]. This article presents some of the studies that implicated weak muscles in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis and touched on muscle sensory and motor dysfunction. It also cites the results of studies demonstrating the efficacy of rehabilitation in reversing sensorimotor dysfunction to reinforce the argument that muscle plays a vital role in osteoarthritis; hence strong muscles will reduce the early onset of degenerative changes.

3. Obesity

In research conducted on 'Obesity and Osteoarthritis' in 2018, there is a proven association between obesity and knee OA, and obesity is suggested to be the main modifiable risk factor [3]. Obese patients (Body Mass Index, BMI, over 30kg/m(2)) are more likely to require total knee arthroplasty (TKA). The global prevalence of obesity has doubled since 1980; by 2025, 47 per cent of men and 36 per cent of women are forecast to be obese. This rising global burden is a key factor in the growing rise in osteoarthritis.

4. Previous Injuries To The Joints

Old injuries like ligament sprain, muscle tear, fractures or surgeries post accidents can have a residual impact on the joints by restricting their full range and creating a muscle imbalance [4]. Due to this, old injuries can cause early onset of arthritis if not rehabilitated under the guidance of experts.

On A Final Note...

We can prolong the early onset of degenerative changes in the joints by taking care of ourselves by making few conscious changes in our everyday life [5]:

  • Correcting the muscle imbalance by strengthening and stretching the muscles surrounding the strained joints will activate and recruit more muscle fibres and improve their efficiency. Strong muscles also increase bone density and help joints move with ease without straining the ligaments and cartilage. This prevents the wear and tear of the cartilage at an early stage.
  • Taking frequent breaks and not being stagnant in one position for a longer period of time at work will reduce occupation-related health issues.
  • Incorporate mobility exercises to keep the joints healthy and in their full range of motion. Mobility exercises are a very important form of exercise that prevents joint stiffness.
  • Healthy nutritious food will help both in having your weight under control and also helps in having the right number of required vitamins and minerals.
  • Physiotherapy is very important post any injuries. Rehabilitation under the guidance of experts will help prevent the future problems that can be associated with it.

'Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live' - Jim Rohn

[image source: wiki]

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