Inputs given by Dr. Biren Nadkarni, Sr. Consultant Orthopedic and Joint Replacement Surgeon from Sitaram Bhartia Institute and Holy Family Hospital – New Delhi
· Over 15 million people worldwide suffer knee joint failure each year due to the breakdown of surrounding cartilage in the joint.
· The fact that 15% of the Indian population suffers from cartilage decay every year.
· By 2030, an estimated 67 million Indians ages 18 years or older are projected to have doctor-diagnosed arthritis
· For every 1-unit increase in body mass index (BMI), the risk of rapid cartilage loss increased by 11%. excess weight was a significant factor as well – Dr. Biren Nadkarni
It was supposed to be a condition affecting the elderly. Till a few years back it was common knowledge that joint problems spared the young but not anymore.
According to a study done at the University of London over 15 million people worldwide suffer knee joint failure each year due to the breakdown of surrounding cartilage in the joint.
The fact that 15% of the Indian population suffers from cartilage decay every year and by 2030, an estimated 67 million Indians ages 18 years or older are projected to have doctor-diagnosed arthritis according to data from the India Arthritic foundation.
Cartilage is a flexible connective tissue found in many areas in the bodies of humans especially in the joints between bones thereby preventing the bones from rubbing against each other. Thus Cartilage acts as a cushion between joints. It prevents the bones from rubbing against each other (such as the cartilage in the knees and elbows) and also reduces friction in the joint with movement. It also holds some bones together, such as rib cartilage.
Dr. Biren Nadkarni, explained “for every 1-unit increase in body mass index (BMI), the risk of rapid cartilage loss increased by 11% excess weight was a significant factor as well. The cartilage between our bones gets compressed by standing, sitting, and other daily activities as the day goes on. Degeneration of cartilage starts after the age of 40 years and above and sometimes earlier in case of injuries to the joint”.
Cartilage also forms bone when you are growing – the ends of your long bones (arm and leg bones) are formed of cartilage when you are young, and this gradually changes into bone and grows longer.
Obesity is also the factor that causes the cartilage to wear out early as those having a sedentary lifestyle have weak muscles resulting in the pressure of the body centering on the joints. This causes early depletion of cartilage.
These changes most likely are the result of an age-related decrease in the ability of chondrocytes (main cells responsible for maintaining the cartilage) to maintain and repair the cartilage tissue.
Age-related changes in articular cartilage can contribute to the development and progression of osteoarthritis. As the cushioning cartilage begins to break down from a lifetime of use, joints become inflamed and arthritic
Any factor (repeated trauma, advanced age, obesity etc.) that causes the breakdown of joint eventfully results in loss of joint shape and alignment. Also, the ends of the bones thicken and form bony growths called ‘spurs’.
The cartilage covering bones in the joint region (called articular cartilage) undergoes thinning with age and activity, resulting in bone rubbing against bone, reduced movements, and pain.
Osteoarthritis affects the joints exposed to high stress (like the knee and hip) and is considered the result of daily wear and tear affecting the cartilage in the joints.
Below are the few symptoms when you feel changes in the body: Dr. Biren Nadkarni
· It usually happens after the age of 40 and develops slowly over a period of years.
· It mainly affects the weight-bearing joints like the knees and hips. However, it may also involve small joints of the finger (e.g. in typists and computer operators due to overuse of finger joints) and the spine (e.g. in old people).
· Pain in the affected joint. The pain in the knees may become worse after suddenly rising from a prolonged sitting posture and sometimes in damp or rainy seasons (possibly due to a change in joint pressure with a change in atmospheric pressure.
· Early morning stiffness for not more than 30 minutes.
· Creaking in the affected joint and a grinding sensation with joint motion
· Joints are usually cold as there is no inflammation.
· Does not affect the overall health of the person.
When to see a doctor:
Those above the age of 40 with the mentioned symptoms should consult a doctor immediately Pain in the joint on stairs climbing or on normal walking, Stiffness in the joints, swelling in the joint, Loss of movement and functional activities, Deformity in the joints
Many of the changes in our cartilage result in more from disuse than from simple aging. Regular exercises, stretching, maintaining healthy exercise habit, maintaining weight helps improve our cartilage strength.