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1 billion people to suffer from bone and joint disorders; 6 lifestyle measures to reduce risk

By, New Delhi
Nov 25, 2023 04:04 PM IST

More than a billion people around the world are likely to suffer from disorders of muscles, bones, joints by 2050. Here’re lifestyle measures that can help.

Bone and muscle disorders are on alarming rise and in the coming three decades, the musculoskeletal disorder cases are expected to more than double. In the next 30 years, disorders of joints, muscles and bones will see an increase of 115 per cent, says a new study published in The Lancet Rheumatology journal. More than a billion people around the world are likely to suffer from disorders of muscles, bones, joints, ligaments, tendons and spine by 2050, up from about half a billion in 2020. Post Covid effect on our musculoskeletal health could be an important factor behind these projections. (Also read | Covid might have negatively impacted bone health of young patients, says research)

The rise in bone and joint issues can be attributed to various factors, and making certain lifestyle changes can help prevent or alleviate these problems.(Shutterstock)

The rise in bone and joint issues can be attributed to various factors, and making certain lifestyle changes can help prevent or alleviate these problems. First of all, one should not ignore symptoms like joint pain or trouble in movement and consult their doctor as soon as they can. Secondly, posture mistakes must be avoided, and regular workouts must be done for better bone and muscle health.

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"Addressing the impending surge in musculoskeletal disorders is crucial for public health. Here, diverse lifestyles prevail, and early signs such as persistent joint pain or limited mobility must not be overlooked. Regular physical activity, balanced nutrition, and maintaining a healthy weight are preventive keystones. Emphasizing posture awareness, especially in sedentary occupations, can significantly mitigate risks. Engaging in low-impact exercises and adopting ergonomic practices can preserve joint health. Seeking prompt medical attention for persistent symptoms is vital. Fostering awareness and integrating musculoskeletal health into our healthcare system are imperative steps towards a healthier future," says Dr Prashanth B N, Consultant - Orthopaedic & Joint Replacement Surgeon.

"In a world where sedentary lifestyles and changing habits are becoming the norm, a recent Lancet study has sent shockwaves through the global health community. According to the study, more than a billion people worldwide are projected to suffer from joint and muscle disorders by 2050. One of the primary drivers of the surge in bone and joint issues is the widespread adoption of sedentary lifestyles. Modern conveniences, such as desk jobs and prolonged screen time, have contributed to a significant decrease in physical activity. Lack of exercise not only weakens muscles but also deprives joints of the necessary movement to stay flexible and healthy. This sedentary epidemic is compounded by the rise in technology-driven entertainment, encouraging more people to lead a predominantly inactive life," says Dr. Kirthi Paladugu, Sr. Consultant Joint Replacement & Arthroscopy Surgeon, Robotic & Navigation Joint Replacement (FIJR Germany), Arthroscopy Surgeon - Shoulder & Knee (Sports Medicine), Minimally Invasive Trauma Surgeon, Clinical Director, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad.

"Another key factor highlighted in the study is the aging global population. As people live longer, the wear and tear on joints and muscles accumulate, leading to a higher prevalence of disorders such as arthritis and osteoporosis. This demographic shift underscores the need for proactive measures to address the challenges associated with an aging populace," adds Dr Paladugu.

Dr. Aman Dua, Director - Joint Replacement and Orthopaedics, Fortis Escorts, Okhla Road, New Delhi, shares some common reasons for the increase in bone and joint issues and lifestyle changes to mitigate them:

Reasons for the rise in bone and joint issues

1. Sedentary lifestyle: Lack of physical activity can weaken muscles and bones, leading to joint problems.

Lifestyle change: Engage in regular exercise, including weight-bearing activities like walking or strength training, to maintain bone and joint health.

2. Poor diet: Inadequate intake of calcium, vitamin D, Proteins and other essential nutrients can contribute to bone density loss.

Lifestyle change: Ensure a balanced diet rich in calcium, vitamin D, Proteins and other nutrients crucial for bone health. Consider supplements if necessary.

3. Obesity: Excess weight puts strain on joints, increasing the risk of conditions like osteoarthritis.

Lifestyle change: Maintain a healthy weight through a combination of proper diet and regular exercise to reduce stress on joints.

4. Improper posture: Poor posture can lead to misalignment and strain on the spine and joints.

Lifestyle change: Practice good posture habits, use ergonomic furniture, and perform exercises to strengthen core muscles.

5. Overuse and repetitive motion: Repetitive activities or overuse of certain joints can lead to conditions like tendinitis.

Lifestyle change: Take breaks during repetitive tasks, incorporate variety in physical activities, and use proper techniques to prevent overuse injuries.

6. Genetics: Genetic factors can contribute to susceptibility to certain bone and joint conditions.

Lifestyle change: While genetic factors can't be changed, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, timely medical intervention can help manage and mitigate genetic predispositions.

7. Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption: This can negatively impact bone health and the excess intake must be avoided.

Lifestyle change: Quit smoking, limit alcohol consumption, and adopt a healthier lifestyle to support bone and joint well-being.

8. Aging: It is a natural factor contributing to the wear and tear of joints and bones.

Lifestyle change: Focus on preventive measures throughout life, including regular exercise, a balanced diet, and maintaining a healthy weight.

Dr. R. A. Purnachandra Tejaswi, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad lists main reasons behind increase in bone and joint disorders:

1. Increase in average life span among the people in developing countries has been one of the main reasons in detection of osteoarthritis in older people.

2. Wanting for a healthier and active lifestyle among the people and seeking medical attention has indirectly increased the diagnostic rates in bone and joint problems.

3. Medical insurance coverage of many families have encouraged people to go for treatment under orthopaedic surgeon.

4. Obesity and sedentary lifestyle among many young adults have made them prone for bone and joint problems.

5. Lack of exercises and less exposure to sunlight are another cause for increase in joint problems.

6. Recent awareness on sports and games in schools and colleges have seen increase in sports related increase in joint problems such as shoulder dislocations and ligament tears in knees and ankles.

How to prevent joint and muscle issues

"To mitigate the impending health crisis, lifestyle changes are crucial. Incorporating regular physical activity into daily routines is paramount. Whether through structured exercise programs or simple activities like walking and stretching, maintaining an active lifestyle is a potent preventive measure against joint and muscle disorders. Ergonomic work setups, particularly for those with desk jobs, can also play a significant role in reducing strain on the musculoskeletal system," says Dr Paladugu.

"Dietary habits are another essential aspect of promoting bone and joint health. Consuming a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D can contribute to the maintenance of strong bones. Additionally, avoiding excessive alcohol consumption and quitting smoking are lifestyle changes that can positively impact musculoskeletal health," adds Dr Paladugu.

Dr Tejaswi shares a list of lifestyle measures that can be incorporated in lifestyle to strengthen bones and muscles health

1. Exercises: Low impact exercises such as swimming and static cycling and walking on plain surfaces prevent early arthritis.

2. Strengthening of muscles: Proper muscle strengthening exercises under a trained therapist will help in strengthening the joints.

3. Diet: Good amount of calcium and minerals in your diet with one and half cups of fruits, dry fruits and milk will help to strengthen your bones.

4. Footwear: Good footwear will help re-distribute uneven load on your joint. Pathologies like flat foot or congenital foot deformity requires customised footwear which will prevent uneven load on the ankle, knees and hip.

5. Early diagnosis: Pathologies present during birth like scoliosis in spine, post traumatic deformities in the joints should be corrected at the earliest as they can lead to early arthritis.

6. Regular follow up: Always being in touch up with your orthopaedic surgeon and good rehabilitation will help you prevent bone and joint problems.

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