World Arthritis Day (WAD) is observed across the globe on October 12 (today) every year to raise awareness amongst the medical community and people of the symptoms connected with Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases (RMDs). Considering the importance of WAD, Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre (SKMCH&RC), Dr Faisal Qamar, said that osteoarthritis (OA) means inflammation of joint or in general terms, wear and tear of joints. The joints lose their cartilage with time and it is the most common type of arthritis, said Dr Faisal. He further said that the arthritis can affect any joint of the body but it mainly affects knees, hips, shoulders and spine. Although OA occurs in people of all ages, it is most common in people older than 50 and common risk factors include increasing age, obesity, previous joint injury, weak thigh muscles, and genes, he added. In normal joints, a firm, rubbery material called cartilage covers the end of each bone which provides a smooth, gliding surface for joint motion and acts as a cushion between the bones, he said. He added that the cartilage breaks down, causing pain, swelling and problems moving the joint. As OA worsens over time, bones may break down and develop growths called spurs. Bits of bone or cartilage may chip off and float around in the joint. In the final stages of OA, the cartilage wears away and the bone rubs against bone leading to joint damage and more pain, said Dr Faisal. Dr Faisal further added that the symptoms of OA vary, depending on which joints are affected and how severely they are affected however, the most common symptoms are pain and stiffness. Affected joints may get swollen, especially after extended activity. These symptoms tend to build over time rather than show up suddenly. People with osteoarthritis experience as much as 30 percent more falls and have a 20 percent greater risk of facture than those without OA, he added. Talking about the ways to tackle osteoarthritis, Dr Faisal said that one of the most beneficial ways to manage OA is to get moving. While it may be hard to think of exercise when the joints hurt, moving is considered an important part of the treatment plan. He added that the research shows that simple activities like walking around the neighborhood can reduce pain and help maintain (or attain) a healthy weight. Doing exercise builds muscles around OA-affected joints and easing the burden on those joints and reducing pain. Range-of-motion exercise helps maintain and improve joint flexibility and reduce stiffness, he said. According to Dr Faisal, the last stage treatment option is surgery to replace severely damaged joints, especially hips or knees. Knee replacement and hip replacement are the two most successful operations in orthopedics. An orthopedic surgeon performs joint replacement. Excess weight adds additional stress to weight-bearing joints, such as the hips, knees, feet and back. Losing weight can help people with OA, reduce pain and limit further joint damage. The basic rule for losing weight is to eat fewer calories and increase physical activity, he concluded. Published in Daily Times, October 12th 2018.