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Walking on metal knees

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Let me tell you a real incident happened in a village in Kerala. Few years back some classmates gathered together for one of their friend’s marriage. Incidentally that was a very late marriage and these friends were meeting after several years. But that late meeting triggered off nostalgic feelings among then and that led to a WhatsApp and Facebook group formation and finally a get together of all 10th student batch mates studied in that village school.

It was all fun and during that event they came to know that one of their classmate is bedridden for the last few years. That was a shocking news for them and so they visited the girl. She was suffering from severe Rheumatoid arthritis and because of ignorance about proper treatment and due to financial issues she was seeking some traditional treatment. Her both knees were completely destroyed and she was in bed for nearly five years. Things were deeply bad as her husband also succumbed to cancer leaving two kids with her. The batch friends decided to take it up. Proper anti rheumatoid drugs were started and she underwent bilateral knee replacement. That has dramatically changed her life. She could sprung back to a productive life and look after her family and herself. She now lives happily as a monument of love and bondage the village school mates keep in their heart and also the success of modern Orthopaedic treatment procedures.

Joint replacement surgery is being increasingly discussed now a days. Also we see a sudden increase of dreaded diseases like cancer, lifestyle disorders and joint mobility disorders. Have you ever thought why? Basically we can point out two factors. First one is increase in life expectancy and second one is decrease in physical quality of life. In this modern era it is like starvation amongst plenty situation. Don’t you think so? Let me explain.

Looking back few decades we thought retirement at the age of 55 was the mark of end of the productive life and start of old age which should be spent in rest and religious matters. Lot of people in fact never reached that age. They used to succumb to varied disorders. Quite a few of them undiagnosed and was regarded as unfortunate sudden death! But as medical science progressed in understanding diseases and inventing new medicines and also a revolutionary growth and development in medical technology helped mankind to conquer a lot of killer diseases and disorders and helped man to extent his normal life expectancy to 80s and 90s. Even though we could keep the diseases under control with drugs we still do not have a control over the normal aging changes (except for the skin tone and hair color probably!!)

The most striking effect of these aging process is seen in the joints. The bones and joints are the most neglected and side-lined organ in the body. It may be because affections of bone and joints do not give a death fear. But unfortunately we just forget that all the developments and supremacy over other creatures we gained is because of the motion freedom we enjoy. So poor bones and joints serve a silent and thankless job protecting all our vital organs and carrying us forward to the “more fast, more high and more distance” accomplishments.

The second reason for this increased joint disorder is our life style itself. The whole mankind is becoming more and more obese because of the unhealthy food habits and lack of exercise. That increases the payload that our joints carry. The modern life accessories we enjoy (in travel, in work, in communication, in food processing, eating habits etc ) actually is making us lazy and chair bound. Also the pressure of work and attainment of targets further steals our time to cater to our own body.

As a result of all these we pay a price in terms of increased wear and tear in joints resulting in pain and decreased movement in joints. Unfortunately because it is not life threatening we tend to neglect the initial signals sent by the body or we believe that some local or traditional oils and liniments will do the trick. As a result finally we reach a stage that joint replacement is the only way out.

If you look into the causes of joint damage – the infections, inflammatory disorders, accidents, tumors and congenital disorders account for a minor fraction of the problem. So the major issue still remains the age related changes, bad life style and neglecting early warning signals.

Majority of joint pain in the initial phase can be successfully treated by exercise, weight reduction and life style adjustments. But you should see a scientifically trained person in handling such disorders and address the issue in the initial phase itself.

But if you have missed the bus and have actually reached the joint destruction phase then also no need to get disappointed. The joint replacement surgery has grown leaps and bounds in last couple of decades and it is now regarded as the most successful treatment modality in modern day Orthopaedics. But unfortunately there is a lot of misunderstandings and myths existing among our people about this even now. There are lot of unqualified people are in the forefront to propagate that this is a dangerous surgery and you will be bedridden after that etc etc.. Also since the volume of this problems is huge and people see it as a huge market and come up with lot of advertisements and magical remedies. The western world is fortunately devoid of such factors and so they enjoy the benefits of this treatment much earlier and enjoy a quality life. Our people in India especially in the south are still doubtful about this because of the strong influence of the abovementioned factors in the society. Actually acceptance of this surgery is several times more in North India compared to Kerala.

It is high time that we should come up with awareness programs about this sort of surgery among our people and help them to get out of the bad influence of dark forces and get them back to a painless and productive life with high quality. (Will continue …)

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