Juggling between responsibilities, right from toil of the new-born months to the many years of looking after the entire family, mothers are superheroes. Meeting everyone’s expectations, they sacrifice more than just their comfort — their health. Did you know that Indian women begin to experience degeneration of the knee and bone mass as soon as they reach 50? The reasons for the early onset of arthritis in Indian women is the lack of nutritious diet, obesity, and back-breaking labour.
This Mother’s Day gift your mum good health by making sure she is not among the many 50-somethings to live with chronic joints pain. Here is a list of recommendations on how to keep her joint pain at bay, to the families:
- Look for early warning signs: Hear her complain about joint pain, stiffness and then rubbishing it as a sign of ageing? Maybe it is time to consult an expert to nail the real cause. Beginning from pain, stiffness, locking and popping of the joints in the morning to inflammation, these can be indications of arthritis, a progressive joint condition. And most Indian women would overlook them.
- Right medical attention at right time: Timely detection and treatment can go a long way in helping your mum lead quality life. However, in my experience, I have seen women seeking consultation only when the condition reaches a stage where pain becomes unbearable. Remember, with delay, the damage to the joints increases manifold. If treated in the early stages, the progression of the condition can be delayed through conservative treatments.
- Keep a tab on her weight: Being overweight is one of the major risk factors for the onset of arthritis amongst Indian women. Our joints are designed for carrying a certain amount of weight. Every 1 kg of additional weight can cause four times the pressure on knees. Optimum weight means healthy joints.
- Gift her a health club membership: She takes care of her world’s health but ignores her own. This Mother’s Day take ownership of her health and get her enrolled in a yoga, Zumba or aerobics class. Staying physically active goes a long way in shedding the extra weight and strengthening the muscles around the joint. This in turn helps relieve the pain and improves joint mobility. Taking a 30 mins walk every day can do wonders for her bone and joint health. Accompany her to the walk and it is a win-win!
- Take minor injuries seriously: We often ignore minor injuries, in and around joints, which can lead to harmful conditions such as arthritis in future. Seek advice from an expert if the pain is recurring. We often see patients where a joint injury becomes the cause of joint degeneration.
- Watch her body posture: Having a bad posture puts extra pressure on the joints, especially the knee, which is the largest load-bearing joint in the body. It can eventually cause knee pain. Maintaining an erect posture, taking frequent breaks at work, regular stretching and readjusting your posture can help in limiting the chances of knee pain.
- Say no to painkillers: Self-medication is a common problem in our country. As a common practice, we often pop painkillers for physical pain without consulting a doctor. While painkillers often provide pain relief, they do not treat the condition. It can lead to several co-morbid conditions. So, if you spot your mum trying to self-treat her recurring joint pain with painkillers, get her joints examined by an orthopaedist.
If she does gets diagnosed with arthritis, there is nothing to worry about! Advancements in the orthopaedics space has revolutionised the management of the condition. Ranging from conservative treatment options such as painkillers, physical therapy, lifestyle modification, steroid injection to safe and effective surgical interventions like minimally invasive surgery and joint replacement therapy, arthritis can be easily managed today.
A replacement therapy is only recommended when conservative options fail to provide pain relief and improved quality of life. An extremely safe and widely used therapy, it is highly effective to manage knee pain and restore mobility.
The spine of the family – the mothers, need a stronger foundation to play the role they do. It’s time to make their health a number one priority.
By: Dr. Ramneek Mahajan, Director – Orthopaedics, Max Hospital, Saket