Rheumatoid arthritis on the rise among women, asserts experts at Vikram Hospital

Bengaluru, October 12, 2018: The incidence of rheumatoid arthritis is rising in India, especially among women between the age of 30-50 years. Rheumatoid arthritis in India is prevalent among 0.5 – 0.75% of the population and it is severe with smokers. However, rheumatological diseases can occur in all age groups including children, said experts of Vikram Hospital, Bengaluru, on the eve of the World Arthritis Day.

While rheumatoid arthritis is by far the most common disease amongst female and ankylosing spondylitis in men, psoriatic arthritis is common in both the gender. Lupus and scleroderma is widely seen amongst women. Takayasu’s arthritis is more common in South-Asian countries than the West. Juvenile arthritis is the commonest arthritis in children.

Dr. BG Dharmanand, Consultant Rheumatologist, Vikram Hospital, Bengaluru said, “India is lacking trained rheumatologists and the burden on the doctors is huge. Many states in the country have barely one-two specialists, while some states in the North-East have none. Specialist access is still restricted only to a few metros. Rheumatological investigations is expensive and affordability is a question. Most rheumatological diseases are also excluded from insurance cover.”

Talking on the prevention, Dr. Ramesh Jois, Consultant Rheumatologist, Vikram Hospital, Bengaluru said, “Most arthritis is autoimmune in nature and hence there are no preventive strategies, but early detection and prompt treatment is required for effective disease control and prevention of complications. Gouty arthritis is probably the only arthritis that is influenced by one’s lifestyle. Weight reduction, low purine diet (avoidance of red meat), avoiding excess alcohol or aerated drink consumption helps in reducing the number of acute attacks of gout.”

He further added, “Untreated or inadequate treatment of arthritis can result in permanent joint damage and profound disability. It can severely impair activities of daily life which in turn will affect job status, employment, finance, etc. Diseases like ankylosing spondylitis can cause permanent irreversible fusion of the spine. This in turn leads to severe spinal deformity particularly in young people in their early age results in severe morbidity and affects their quality of life. Uncontrolled chronic inflammatory disease results in premature heart disease and early death.”

Speaking on this occasion, Dr. Somesh Mittal, CEO, Vikram Hospital, Bengaluru, said, “Rheumatology is not a focus specialty in teaching programs in our medical colleges. Number of seats available for post-graduation is very minimal and there is a huge gap between demand and supply. Infact, only a few rheumatologists are available in the metro cities while in Tier II & Tier III cities, there are none available. To address this, we recently launched Institute of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology with an aim to build a center of excellence in managing rheumatological diseases. Also, we intend to train the next generation of doctors in rheumatology through fellowship programs so that they can confidently practice in different parts of the state.”

“Age related arthritis may impair your ability to enjoy life after 50. Present day modern orthopaedics has solutions to most of these problems. Let not your joint pain take away your happiness. Advances in scientific research has led to the discovery of variety of new drugs like biologics and small molecules which are superior to conventional traditional medications in ensuring better disease control, preventing long term complications and lesser side effects. However due to its higher cost and not being covered by various insurance schemes the access to needy patients in our country is largely limited,” says Dr. Chethan Nagaraj, Senior Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon Specialist in Joint Replacement & Arthroscopy

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