Home' Central Canterbury News : June 19th 2013 Contents 10 CENTRAL CANTERBURY NEWS, JUNE 19, 2013
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Many reasons arthritis could develop
Knee replacement: Sometimes surgery is necessary when other forms of arthritis therapy are not effective.
By JEFF LILLY
The most important thing you
can do if you suspect you have
any form of arthritis is to get a
proper diagnosis and begin
I have to admit, I am not a young
man any more, and age brings
with it all sorts of cruel and
I used to be fit and active –
tramped, hunted, played squash, ran
every day, and participated in road
races and relay marathons. I was
never that good at these things; I
just did them for enjoyment.
However, a while ago, I decided to
start jogging at dawn and my knee
began hurting. After a trip to the
doctor, an X-ray and a consultation
with a prominent Christchurch osteo
surgeon, I was forced to face the
truth. I was suffering from
osteoarthritis. He popped a needle
into my swollen knee and withdrew
a quantity of straw-coloured fluid.
‘‘Ah,’’ I said.
‘‘Now I know where the
What is arthritis, exactly?
It is a complex family of musculo-
skeletal disorders, consisting of more
than 100 different diseases or
conditions that destroy joints,
bones, muscles, cartilage and other
connective tissues, hampering or
halting physical movement.
Osteoarthritis is one of the oldest
and most common forms, and is a
chronic condition, characterised by
the breakdown of the joint’s
cartilage. Cartilage is the stuff that
cushions the ends of the bones and
allows easy movement of joints. The
breakdown of cartilage causes the
bones to rub against each other,
causing stiffness, pain and loss of
movement in the joint.
Age is one. Since wear and tear
does play a part, the older you are,
the more you have used your
joints, although it doesn’t mean that
it is inevitable.
Obesity is another. Increased body
weight is a serious factor,
particularly in your knees, which
carry the brunt of your weight day in
and day out.
Research suggests that excess
body fat produces chemicals that
travel throughout the body and
cause joint damage, which would
mean obesity plays a systemic, not
just a mechanical, role in
Then there is injury or overuse.
Athletes and people who have jobs
that require doing repetitive
motion, such as landscaping,
typing, or machine operating, have a
Genetics plays a role, particularly
in the hands, such as inherited
abnormalities of the bones that
affect the shape or stability of
Muscle weakness can also
contribute to the condition.
If you suffer from joint soreness
after periods of overuse or inactivity,
or stiffness after periods of rest,
morning pain, or deterioration of co-
ordination, posture and walking, you
may be developing the condition.
The most important thing you can
do if you suspect you have any form
of arthritis is to get a proper
diagnosis and begin treatment.
What are the treatment options?
You are the key factor.
In addition to – and maybe more
important than – medications you
may take, making healthy lifestyle
changes, managing stress and
depression, avoiding joint damage,
and balancing rest and activity will
play a key role in battling the pain
and limitations that can come.
In severe cases, when the
therapies above don’t work, surgery
may be considered.
Some facts provided by Arthritis
New Zealand that you may find
❚ Arthritis New Zealand is a national
organisation whose mission is to
improve the health and wellbeing of
people who are affected by arthritis.
❚ There are more than 140 different
forms of arthritis, of which
osteoarthritis, gout and rheumatoid
arthritis are the most prevalent.
❚ You might be surprised to learn
there are more than 1000 children
and young people living with the
pain of arthritis.
❚ Arthritis is the leading cause of
disability in our country and there is
no cure. It can affect anyone, at any
age, at any time.
❚ There are 17,940 people receiving
sickness or invalid’s benefits as a
result of musculo-skeletal
conditions, the bulk of which will be
❚ Arthritis New Zealand receives only
12 per cent of its funding from
Without the generosity of donors
and volunteers, the organisation
wouldn’t be able to help the more
than 530,000 New Zealanders
who live with the pain of arthritis
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