Juggling between responsibilities, right from toil of the new-born months to the many years of looking after the entire family, mothers are superheroes. Meeting everyone’s expectations, they sacrifice more than just their comfort— their health. Did you know that Indian women begin to experience degeneration of the knee and bone mass as soon as they reach 50? The reasons for the early onset of knee arthritis in Indian women is the lack of nutritious diet, obesity, and back-breaking labour.
This Mother’s Day, gift her good health by making sure she is not among the many 50-somethings to live with chronic joints pain. Here is a list of recommendations from Dr. Ramneek Mahajan, Director – Orthopaedics, Max Hospital, Saket, for prevention and management of the condition, to all mothers:
- Detecting knee arthritis early: Knee arthritis is a progressive disease and develops slowly over the period of stages based on the degeneration of the cartilage. Beginning from stiffness, locking, and popping of the knees in the morning to inflammation of the joints, the symptoms of arthritis should not be ignored. One must consider consulting an expert to detect and diagnose the symptoms in the initial stage to avoid further complications.
- Seek timely medical attention: Although knee arthritis worsens over time, it can be treated, and a patient can enjoy complete mobility post-treatment. However, in my experience, I have seen women seeking consultation only when the condition worsens. As soon as the symptoms become a barrier in routine activities, one should seek immediate clinical help. Remember, with delay, the damage to the joints increases manifold.
- Bone health issues specific to women: Not just the loss of cartilage, women also suffer from joint pain, especially in the hips and knees due to menopausal arthritis. In women over 50, the reduction in Estrogen levels results in losing bone mass that puts them at risk of osteoporosis. Due to thinning of the bones, chances of fracture in joints are exponentially high.
- Physiotherapy as a healing touch: For women suffering from stiffness and pain in the knees, physiotherapy is another safe option that they can explore. After assessing your medical condition, you can opt a range of exercises from mild to strong. Physiotherapy often improves mobility and relieves the pain.
- Keep a check on your physical activities: Sitting in one position for hours puts you at a higher risk of experiencing joint pain. You must take frequent breaks and walk for at least 30 mins every day. By engaging the knee in any form of activity, you can increase its strength and flexibility.
- Maintaining optimum weight: Our knees are designed for carrying a certain amount of weight. Every 1 kg of additional weight can cause four times the pressure on your knees. Anything over the carrying capacity can cause damage to the joint. Hence, keep a check on her weight to keep her joints healthy.
- Don’t ignore minor injuries: We often ignore minor injuries, in and around joints, which can lead to harmful joint conditions such as arthritis in future. Seek advice from an expert if the pain is recurring.
- Watch your body posture: Having a bad posture puts extra pressure on the joints, especially the knee, which is the largest load-bearing joint in the body. It can eventually cause knee pain. Maintaining an erect posture, taking frequent breaks at work, regular stretching and readjusting your posture can help in limiting the chances of knee pain.
- Stay away from painkillers: Commonly used Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for joint pain can trigger heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, and kidney disease. Hence, it is always safer to consult an expert before indulging in self-medication.
If the above steps do not alleviate knee pain, maybe it’s time to take alternate solutions. “In certain cases of severe degeneration of the knee conservative treatments such as painkillers, exercise, lifestyle modifications too can fail to provide pain relief, impacting your quality of life. In such conditions, you can opt for knee replacement therapy. An extremely safe and widely used therapy, it is highly effective to manage knee pain and restore mobility,” Dr Mahajan shares.
The spine of the family – the mothers, need a stronger foundation to play the role they do. It’s time to make their health a number one priority.