Surgery a way out for arthritis: Doctors

Bengaluru: Gayathri Pathak, 40, was bedridden for the last two years and depended entirely on her husband to take care of the house, their children and her. Suffering from multiple joint rheumatoid arthritis for the last seven years, she refused surgery although her condition kept worsening.

Then one day she gave in and underwent a Computer Navigation Assisted Total Knee Replacement (TKR) surgery at the Fortis Hospital on Bannerghatta Road recently, which has now changed her life for the better.

“I am very grateful to the doctors for counselling and treating me. I will now be able to travel everywhere and also see my parents soon,” says a relieved Gayathri.

Dr. Narayana Hulse, additional director, orthopaedics, Fortis Hospitals, Bengaluru says Gayathri was advised knee replacement surgery last year but she held back due to fear and misconception about this line of treatment, As a result, her knee developed severe bends that made her immobile. “She developed flection deformity in both the knees, which made her completely bedridden. We used the Computer Navigated Knee Replacement technique for her as it helped us place the knee in the most accurate position,” he explains.

The surgery was difficult to perform as Gayathri’s bones had become soft from immobility and were at risk of breaking. “But we mobilised her knee condition gradually and progressively. Then 10 days after  surgery she was discharged and now she  is able to walk independently without any support,” he says. Dr. Hulse regrets that there are a lot of misconceptions about knee replacement surgery. "We need to educate patients  and plan an early surgery to avoid further complications and pain," he suggests. Going by doctors, knee arthritis is expected to emerge as the fourth common cause of physical disability with four crore people in need of total knee replacement in the country. Unfortunately, the shortage of orthopaedic specialists and healthcare infrastructure will make this a huge healthcare burden, they warn.

Dr. Deepak Inamdar, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Apollo Hospitals, Jayanagar explains there are over a 100 types of arthritis which can be caused due to different reasons. “The condition is difficult to recognise as it is often mistaken for an injury and starts in a single joint,” he adds.

While  osteoarthritis is commonly seen in the older population, rheumatoid arthritis is very common among younger people, according to him. “If not treated on time, arthritis, being an autoimmune disease, can  easily destroy the joint,” Dr. Inamdar warns.

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