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young adults, teenagers more susceptible to early-onset of arthritis

Traditionally associated with older individuals, arthritis is now increasingly affecting young adults as well as teenagers, said health experts, ahead of World Arthritis Day.

World Arthritis Day is celebrated on October 12 every year to raise global awareness about arthritis.

Sedentary lifestyles, obesity, dietary choices, genetic predisposition, joint injuries from sports, and inadequate workplace ergonomics are to be blamed for the alarming surge seen among the youths, the doctors said.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), worldwide approximately 9.6 per cent of men and 18 per cent of women aged over 60 suffer from osteoarthritis -- typically caused by wear and tear, injury, infection, age, and genetics. In India, osteoarthritis is the second most common rheumatologic problem, with a prevalence ranging from 22 per cent to 39 per cent.

Common symptoms include joint pain, restricted movement, swelling, and a painful grating sensation.

"In recent years, an alarming and consistent rise in arthritis cases among young adults is being seen. Out of total orthopaedic patients, 15-20 per cent are 35 years old or younger," Vivek Mahajan, Senior Consultant, Orthopaedic and Joint Replacement Surgeon, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, New Delhi, told IANS.

"Young adults, particularly those between 25 and 45, are more susceptible to early-onset arthritis. Regular physical activity to maintain joint flexibility, weight management, and a balanced diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods can reduce the risk," added Hemant Bansal, Consultant - Orthopaedics, Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Gurugram.

The orthopaedic experts noted that until a decade back, most arthritis patients were above the age of 45. Now, a patient can even be even 16 years old. In addition, a lot of working professionals around the age of 30 are also presenting with pain and stiffness in their joints.

"Inactive routines and a growing obesity epidemic are significant contributors. A lethargic and laid-back approach and excess body weight place undue stress on joints, accelerating wear and tear," Bansal told IANS.

Rheumatoid arthritis -- an autoimmune disease where the body's immune system attacks the joint lining, leading to cartilage and bone damage -- is also more common in younger individuals, and poses a greater threat. Arthritis is rapidly becoming the fourth most common cause of disability in India, the doctors said.

The doctors called for regular physical activity to maintain joint flexibility, weight management, and a balanced diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods to reduce the risk of arthritis.

Early detection through regular check-ups is crucial. Diagnosis involves tests like ESR and CRP for rheumatoid arthritis and imaging techniques for osteoarthritis.

Timely intervention can help manage symptoms and improve the quality of life, they said, while also noting promising medical advancements in arthritis treatment.

"Medicines, exercise, and physiotherapy are always the first lines of treatment for arthritis management. But in cases where osteoarthritis becomes extremely advanced, joint replacement offers a very safe and viable solution to improve the quality of life of the patient," Surya Udai Singh, Senior Consultant, Orthopaedic and Robotic Knee Replacement, NH-RN Tagore Hospital, Kolkata, told media.

Dr Singh emphasised on the effectiveness of robotic technology, which minimises the possibility of human error and inconsistency while ensuring unparalleled accuracy.

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