Surgeries of joints on rise

Viral infections lead to inflammation, cause arthritis

There is 30 per cent increase in joint replacement surgeries every year, according to experts at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). 

Doctors correlate this trend with rising awareness about disease and treatment and a significant rise in viral infections. 

“Rise in viral infections like dengue are causing increased incidence of arthritis,” said Dr Chandra Shekhar Yadav, a professor at the department of orthopaedics in AIIMS. AIIMS has organised a two-day cadaver-training programme – which involves operating on corpses – for 60 surgeons across the country. The hospital has arranged eight cadavers for the training programme."

Even though new age technologies have made joint replacements surgeries convenient and effective, shortage of skilled doctors remains a major problem. 

Yadav said that in India there are less than 100 surgeons with the required skills and there's shortage of dedicated infrastructure and technical know-how to treat this disease.  

The viral infections trigger the auto-immune system that increases inflammation in the joints and other tissues of the body, he said, indicating that there is 25-30 per cent surge in patient inflow at the auto-immune clinic of the hospital. He said that the most important joints affected are knee and hip, which eventually leads to arthritis and disorders of body joints.  

“Unlike developed parts of the world, India also witnesses an early onset of hip joint pain due to a disease called Avascular Necrosis (AVN),” said Ross Crawford of Queensland University of Technology in Australia. He has come to train Indian surgeons on advanced hip replacement surgery. Doctors believe that early treatment can help patients avoid surgery. 

Crawford said that AVN is the death of tissue or cartilage between hip joints due to discontinued or restricted blood supply. This cartilage is responsible for smooth movement of the bone joints and acts as a cushion between the two bones. 

“Usually any injury, dislocation of joint bones or excessive alcoholism or use of steroids and pain-killers at a young age, could lead to AVN. Since the symptoms remain mild for long period, patients often show up late,” Crawford added. 

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