A few years ago, it was the common perception that joint problems were a problem of old age and that the young were spared. This is far from the truth, both today and in years to come. Orthopedic surgeons are seeing increasing numbers of young patients with end-stage arthritis, a condition that usually precedes joint replacement.
Take the case of thirty-eight-year-old Radhika from Bangalore. Both her knees are worn out from osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis usually affects older people but young patients with certain risk factors, injury or a genetic predisposition may be diagnosed much earlier. She's going to require knee replacements soon. Another example is Safia from Mangalore, who at the age of forty-five has already had bilateral Oxinium knee replacements done. Her main contributory risk factor was obesity.
"It's contextual and more than relevant to deliver this message following World Arthritis Day," says Dr.Venkatachalam, an orthopedic surgeon from Chennai, India. Arthritis refers to any condition of a joint leading to swelling, pain, noise such as clicking, and restriction of movements. World Arthritis Day is commemorated each year on October 12th to raise awareness of joint problems. This year’s theme is, "Let us work together."
Conditions leading to end-stage arthritis in the young are rheumatoid arthritis, post-traumatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, post-infective arthritis, hemophilic arthritis and osteoarthritis in the genetically prone young patient. The end result is a breakdown of articular cartilage, the natural shock absorber found in joints.
Increasing incidence of joint problems amongst the young has led to a commiserate increase in demand for intervention, as the young are not content with resting at home or taking medicines. This population of so called "baby boomers" wants to enjoy life to the hilt and be able to earn their living.
Early diagnostic radiologic methods like MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) can pick up joint disease in its earlier phase. Laboratory diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, a debilitating disease, is also possible with blood tests. Early diagnosis enables surgeons to offer newer methods of treatment and perhaps even nip the disease in its bud before long-term damage to joints occurs. Disease modifying drugs, stem cell therapies and advances in joint replacement procedures and prosthetic joints are examples of just a few of such advances.
Cartilage surgery is a method of a biological treatment. Damaged articular cartilage is repaired or regenerated through autologous chondrocyte implantation, an established technique introduced in India in its latest technological advances. This fourth-generation cartilage regeneration technique is invaluable for treating lesions in high demand patients like athletes.
Joint replacements have also gotten a boost in the last two years through advances in prosthetic joint materials. Earlier joint replacement had a survivorship of ten to fifteen years. A young patient in need of a joint replacement was certain to need a revision surgery later on. This requirement is now mitigated with the availability of implants made of durable materials like Oxinium. Oxinium is a metal substrate with a ceramic coating. Oxinium knees and hip implants offer longevity, low friction and non allergenicity.
"The Madras Joint Replacement Center located in Chennai, India, is dedicated to restoring mobility and flexibility using the most advanced joint materials, technologies and procedures to date," states Pramod Goel, CEO and founder of PlacidWay, an international medical provider portal based in Denver, Colorado. "Orthopedic surgeons such as Dr.Venkatachalam and his staff are dedicated to getting people moving again."
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