Indians and arthritis

Dr Rajeev K Sharma

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis which involves age-related wear and tear of the cartilage surrounding the joints. And it is possible that
behavioural patterns and lifestyle choices make Indians more susceptible to osteoarthritis. Here’s why:

Indian toilets: This may seem trivial, but is a major cause of arthritic wear and tear in Indians. Indians predominantly use toilet seats that require them to squat. Squatting position puts strain on the knees and over a period of time, this makes us more prone to wear and tear of the knee cartilage.

Squatting: A majority of Indian women sit on the floor and cook. Also, several household chores involve hours of squatting on the floor every day, causing a lot of strain on the knees. In the long run, this makes the knees prone to wear and tear.

Lack of exercise: Indians are couch potatoes. We spend long hours of the day sitting at work, then return to spend the rest of the time in front of the television, before retiring to bed.

Weight issues: From the twin factors of lack of physical activity and a
cultural preference for rich oily food, stems the problem of excessive weight.

Excessive weight puts extra pressure on the knees, hastening their wear and tear.

Praying methods: Our methods of praying usually involve sitting on the floor or prostrating for long hours at a stretch. This makes our knees more prone to osteoarthritis.

General indifference to health: Lack of consciousness about leading a healthy lifestyle is a major emerging problem among Indians. Ageing and associated problems are considered inevitable and little effort is put to ensure that we age better by living a healthier life.  

(The author is senior consultant, orthopedics & joint replacement surgeon,
Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, Delhi)

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