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Health Corner
The information is provided by Quality HealthCare Medical Service - Health Affairs
Keep Joints Flexible for vitality
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Dr Tio Man Kwun Peter
Specialist in Orthopaedic & Traumatology, MBBS (HK), FCSHK, FHKAM (Orthopaedic Surgery), FHKCOS, FRCSEd, FRCSEd (Orth)

Osteoarthritis is not only a problem for the elderly. With our modern lifestyles, more and more young people are beginning to suffer from degenerative joint disease. In order to have good mobility, it is necessary to pay attention to our lifestyle habits!

Osteoarthritis is a very common joint disease. Cartilage damage is the key feature of degenerative joint disorder and is caused by “wear and tear” of the joints over time. The most common symptoms are swelling, pain and inflammation, with a limited range of motion or stiffness.

Increasing Rates of Osteoarthritis in Younger Patients
Most people think that osteoarthritis is a problem for the older generation. However, orthopaedic specialist Dr Tio Man Kwun Peter points out that degenerative joint conditions begin gradually from the age of 40, with some experiencing symptoms as early as in their 30s.
The most common areas affected by osteoarthritis are the neck, spine and knees. The cause is related to our daily lifestyle, hence it is regarded as a type of urban disease. For example, long-term use of computers or mobile phones with our heads tilted forward and downwards will lead to osteoarthritis of the neck, while sitting in the office for a long time with poor posture or inappropriate seats will cause poor spinal health. Salespersons who stand for a long time, people with obesity or those who enjoy running, playing football, basketball or other high-impact sports will have long-term pressure on their feet, leading to higher chances of knee osteoarthritis.

Delaying the Progression of Osteoarthritis
Many people think that consuming more calcium tablets or food containing calcium can prevent or delay osteoarthritis, but presently, there is no cure for osteoarthritis. Dr Tio explains that calcium can strengthen the bone, but it has no effect on the cartilage.
In recent years, a common treatment has been the injection of hyaluronic acid, which acts as a shock absorber to reduce friction from cartilage motion. Each treatment requires an injection of 1 to 5 times, and its effect can last for 9 to 12 months. This can reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis and relieve pain.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure
To maintain joint flexibility, always remember that “prevention is better than cure”. We can pay more attention to our lifestyles, such as maintaining a healthy weight to ease the burden on our joints. We must also do sufficient warm-ups before exercise, and do what is suitable for our age, weight and strength. For those with middle-age weight gain, Dr Tio suggests that high-impact exercise should be replaced by low-impact ones such as swimming, cycling or rowing, which can reduce the load on the feet and strengthen muscles.
According to Dr Tio, the popularity of smartphones in recent years has caused a dramatic increase in the number of young patients with osteoarthritis of the neck. He suggests that smartphone usage time should not exceed 15-20 minutes per hour. Do not tilt your head down, and keep your neck in a neutral position with the smartphone at eye level.
By making lifestyle changes, we can start to reduce the burden on our joints and delay the symptoms of osteoarthritis. We should also be more aware of our physical conditions. If you suffer from continuous swelling and pain in your joints, you should seek medical attention immediately to receive appropriate treatment.

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