Two-thirds of the knee replacement surgeries in the country are for osteoarthritis, as Indian women, especially housewives, are more prone to it. Dr Sreedhar Singh, a renowned orthopaedic surgeon based out of Bengaluru, says that staying indoors for long, gaining excess weight or lack of exercise and calcium in the post-menopausal diet are the major reasons for it.
Singh has been practicing as a joint replacement surgeon for the past 15 years, and has successfully completed more than 2, 500 total knee replacement surgeries and conducted thousands of joint replacements. “A few years ago, knee replacement surgeries were restricted to the upper middle-class as they were aware of the consequences of neglecting knee pain,” Singh says, adding that nowadays even the lower-income groups are opting for the surgery with the help of medical insurance.
And these days, a large number of women, all in their early 50s, are falling prey to arthiritis. According to Singh, women prone to knee and joint problems should realise that the chances of the arthritis setting in increase with age as there is good cartilage regeneration only till 40 to 45 years. “Indians tend to develop knee problems for a variety of reasons—due to genetic pre-disposition, bad lifestyle, obesity, lack of exercise and other fitness issues,” says Singh.
In the Western countries, the easiest solution to solve this problem is undergoing a joint replacement surgery. “I returned to Bengaluru in 2000 and during those days, such operations were not popular in India. Even now, the treatment is mostly restricted only to the metro cities,” Singh rues.
But then, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. “The concept of joint replacement surgery as a safe alternative option is slowly gaining acceptance. But more needs to be done by creating awareness among people,” the senior doctor, who has been trying to create awareness among the common people, explains.
While such diseases ultimately lead to complete disability of the knee, chances of slow death can’t be ruled out either. “When the pain is not relieved by medication or physiotherapy for long, a person may be bedridden in the long run. So, surgery is advisable,” Singh points out.
In the last decade, knee replacement surgeries have become much convenient. Earlier, a patient had to stay in the hospital for nearly two weeks, but now a surgery is complete in just a few hours. A patient can resume his normal duties in a month’s time, and for all that one just needs to shell out Rs 1.5-2 lakh for each knee. “There is no need to be scared of this operation. Like any other surgery, the success rate is 99 per cent. There is a need for awareness to undergo the operation at the right time,” Singh says.
Launching a campaign to bring in lifestyle changes, Singh advices post-menopausal women (with estrogen stimulus gone, calcium absorption decreases) to keep an eagle eye on their diet. Regular exercise, eating healthy foods and consulting a doctor at the right time could help one tackle the disease. “Do not tolerate pain for a long time. Housewives are busy throughout the day, managing work with abnormal levels of stress. They need to devote at least one hour a day for exercising. Otherwise, knees could be affected, ”says the 48-year-old doctor.
Traditional habits like sitting on the floor, sitting cross-legged are not advisable, especially for middle aged people, because squatting and sitting on the floor may damage the joints and may result in excruciating pain. IT professionals, who work for long hours, have a chance of facing osteoarthritis problems by the time they turn 45-50. “They should take initiative to bring in changes to their lifestyle before it is too late,” Singh signs off.