NEW DELHI: If you thought diabetes was the most prevalent ailment affecting Indians, you could be wrong. While much has been said about the high incidence of diabetes, HIV and cancer in India, a recent study suggests that osteoarthritis beats them all to claim the No. 1 spot among ailments in the country.

Osteoarthritis is a condition in which the cartilage that acts as a cushion between bones in joints begins to wear out, causing inflammation and pain in joints, thereby restricting movement. Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease.

The high incidence of osteoarthritis in India is the result of its prevalence among women who fall victim to it. Menopausal women are especially prone to it. The disease is, however, not restricted to women, although diabetes and hypertension remain the most prevalent ailments among men.

Shockingly, the study — conducted by TNS and called TNS Arogya — found that in the age group 25-35 years, osteoarthritis figures as the second most prevalent disease after diabetes. It also found that while there is high incidence of osteoarthritis, awareness about the disease is very low compared to awareness about diseases like diabetes, HIV and cancer.

Says Dr Shishir Rastogi, professor, orthopaedics, at AIIMS: "There are many reasons for the high prevalence of osteoarthritis in India. Genetic is the strongest reason which makes us more pre-disposed to it. Several other factors like the popular squatting position in India, rising obesity, sedentary lifestyle and poor diet are responsible for its high incidence."

Doctors claim that not only is there a lack of awareness about the disease, it is also often confused with osteoporosis. Says Dr S K S Marya, director, orthopaedics, Max Healthcare: "Osteoporosis and osteoarthritis are both common in India. But they are two different diseases. In many people, both are seen together. While osteoporosis affects the bones, osteoarthritis impacts the joints. The poor musculature of Indians and rising obesity are primarily responsible for the high numbers hit by osteoarthritis."

There are two kinds osteoarthritis — primary and secondary. While primary osteoarthritis is a result of old age, secondary osteoarthritis is a result of a disease or an injury which, in turn, leads to it. "The best way to keep osteoarthritis under check is to exercise regularly, avoid squatting and cross-legged positions, maintain a healthy diet and keep weight in control. High uric acid is also likely to make you more susceptible to osteoarthritis," says Dr Naveen Talwar, consultant orthopaedic surgeon, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

Source: Times Of India

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