Dr. Sharan Patil speaks about bone related problems affecting women today
Arthritis is now also being considered a lifestyle disease with over 18% of India’s population being victimized by the nearly crippling joint pain. Dr. Sharan Shivraj Patil talks about this condition and its prevalence in the Indian population.
The average Indian woman today has taken on roles of home-maker, bread-winner and care-giver. Multi-faceted though she may be, an increasingly sedentary lifestyle especially in tier-1 cities across the nation has contributed to a series of health concerns. Arthritis is now also being considered a lifestyle disease with over 18% of India’s population being victimized by the nearly crippling joint pain. With women being 3 times more prone to the disease than men, it becomes almost mandatory to take preventive measures against it. Osteoarthritis is the most commonly known form of arthritis that most often affects women above the age of 50 and eventually slows active life leading to severe pain and immobility. However to pursue the dream of taking world standard quality medical care to the masses, Dr. Sharan Shivaraj Patil established the SPARSH Hospital in the year 2006.
It has become a commitment to constantly explore opportunities and develop processes and systems by which health care could become affordable in India. Under his stewardship and within the short time span of just over three years, over 10,000 major surgeries have been performed on the lower-middle and middle class strata of society. Superspecialities of every branch of Orthopedics, Plastic and Maxillofacial surgery have been developed with lead surgeons and teams for each of the specialties. Over 20 consultants and 30 junior doctor work as a team at SPARSH Hospital practicing state of art medicine. Being a keen teacher and having been involved in training many young orthopedic surgeons Dr. Sharan Shivaraj Patil shares his insights on this condition and its prevalence in the Indian population.
Young people suffering from joint pains have increased over the years, what do you think is the reason for it?
Joint pain is one of the primary concerns of most people today and it is caused by the inflammation of the tissues around the joints. Arthritis is one of the most common causes of joint pains but it mostly occurs only in people aged 50 and older. But then, even young people are troubled by joint pains as well. Sedentary lifestyle and failure to exercise leads to excess body fat that weighs down joints and contributes to poor balance and instability. Also people who are into sports and those who are born with weak joints also suffer from joint pains. Prolonged consumption of unhealthy food, lack of vitamins in the body and sedentary lifestyle can lead to joint disorders.
What are some of the common causes of arthritis in women?
Apart from genetics which increase a woman’s risk against arthritis, lifestyle choices such as habitual wearing of high-heeled shoes also cause wear and tear of joints thereby leading to arthritic conditions. Obesity though not a direct contributor to arthritis, is something that women should keep a watch out for. Excessive body weight can put additional stress on joints and lead to their degeneration.
Do you think sedentary lifestyle is the sole reason for all the problems?
Sedentary lifestyle is one of the main reasons. There are many women today who are confined to their homes and do not really get enough exercise. They are not exposed to sunlight and stay indoors all the time. Vitamin D is essential to strong bones and inadequate vitamin D can lead to osteoporosis. Though it might not affect them immediately, it will affect them at a later stage. My suggestion is that women need be physically active because physical activity gets everything moving in your body, the blood, the oxygen, the cellular respiration, the nervous system, and so on.
Are calcium supplements beneficial?
They are certainly beneficial, but it must be taken to the right range and the right kind of calcium is important. A diet rich in calcium is important for the whole body and calcium supplements strengthen and raise bone mass. However, pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult their doctor before taking any calcium tablets to their diet. Sometimes the level of calcium in bloodstream can increase and may cause some complications. Also do not buy calcium tablets off the counter, do consume only after the physician’s approval
Women experience acute backache during the menopausal stage, what is the reason behind this?
Back pain is a universal phenomenon; back pain is specially escalated during pregnancy, due to the huge amount of force on the spine. Especially in old times, women used to go to their mother’s house to get enough rest and they took good care of themselves. But women today get back to work quickly and don’t give enough rest to the body which puts a lot of pressure on their body. Also it can lead to chronic back pain as they don’t let the hormones to work on their body. And back pain increases during menopausal because women tend to lose bone mass after the massive hormonal changes and as bones become thinner, they tend to collapse causing micro fractures which causes acute back pain but it mostly happens in older women.
Women are known to suffer from osteoporosis more than men?
Osteoporosis is a disease associated with the weakening of the bones caused by the loss of bone density. It weakens bones and leads to fractures primarily in the hip, spine and wrist area. In women, it's mostly caused by a drop in bone-strengthening estrogen after menopause. Around the age of 35 both males and females start losing calcium, but women loose more during the menopausal years and are therefore more affected by the disease than men. The problem can be tackled by adopting a holistic approach, which not only includes bringing about lifestyle changes and cutting down on tobacco and alcohol intake, but also consuming balanced diet rich in calcium and Vitamin D.
How much activity is too much? What exercises should women avoid?
Women who are young must exercise regularly as it prevents chronic diseases, but they shouldn’t strain themselves in the gym trying to work too hard. Activities like running, cycling are of great help. Also women in the older age group must refrain from doing exercise that put too much strain on the joints. Since Indian women are short, they are more prone to arthritis. And especially our Indian lifestyle is such that we do a lot of work which indirectly affects the joints. There are a lot of good things about the Indian culture but I don’t suggest the Indian toilet, also if you are doing a puja don’t sit down on the floor, use a chair instead and try not to use the stairs often.