Many people believe that young people cannot suffer from joint pain, “this, however, is a misconception which needs to be addressed,” said Dr Vivek Dahiya, Director, Institute of Musculoskeletal Disorders and Orthopedics, Medanta Hospital Gurgaon. He added that young people can experience joint-related pain if they are “genetically prone to the same, suffer from gout (high uric acid levels), obesity, repetitive injuries, compromised immune systems”.

“Different forms of arthritis such as degenerative arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, infectious arthritis, and septic arthritis are all conditions which can affect young people,” he continued.

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He explained that a damaged joint can appear swollen and tender; and if the damage is severe, the need for joint replacement surgery might arise. “There is enough medical literature and evidence which highlights that joint replacement surgery among young people is completely safe. During surgery, the damaged joint is removed, and a prosthesis is put in – mimicking the function of the biological joint. This can be done in the hip, knee, elbow, wrist, and shoulder,” he said.

Risk factors:

Joint replacement surgery requirement, which was previously seen more in elderly patients, is now being seen in young people as well. This can be attributed to several factors such as absence of physical exercise which means that the joints have not been strengthened, consumption of unhealthy food, beverages, alcohol, and tobacco products and a lack of a nutritious diet which contains the necessary vitamins and minerals needed for joint and bone development.

It is important to have more vitamins in your diet (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

Another challenge is the delay in seeking treatment. Most young patients do not seek medical advice when the pain initially starts. They believe the pain will eventually fade away. However, if not treated in time, joint pain can lead to a deterioration in the quality of life. For young people, severe joint pain (which remains unaddressed) can be debilitating. It can cause decreased mobility which can further result in social exclusion, the inability to sustain employment or participate in sports and other exercises.

Joint replacement surgery can be avoided if pain is acknowledged early on, treated with rest, physiotherapy, and anti-inflammatory medication. The pandemic has also posed additional challenges – with many patients discontinuing treatment (surgical and non-surgical) till the condition becomes severe.

Advancements:

Joint replacement surgery has become extremely advanced over the past few years. 3D printing has enabled surgeons to adopt a more customised approach for evaluating the bone structure, severity of disease, joint alignment, the surrounding bone, and tissue, and then printing the joint using ceramic, titanium, gypsum, nylon, and stainless steel. The chances of infection and thrombosis have also significantly reduced because of the new technologies being used during surgeries.

Innovation, design, and robot technology have ensured that the surgeries are done in a minimally invasive, precise manner, with less bleeding and correct placement of the implant. This results in less pain, longer durability of the implant and a faster recovery time. For young people, undergoing surgery, this is incredibly important. It allows them to rehabilitate faster and return to regular life quicker. For sportsmen and women, it allows them to perform to their fullest during their prime years. Gender implants and patient specific instruments prevent scarring, which is important for those looking for an aesthetically pleasing solution.

Recovery:

Joint replacement surgery reduces pain at a faster rate as compared to those who do not undergo surgery. Pain management and ensuring a quicker recovery time is integral to the treatment and surgical approach. Rehabilitation and physiotherapy begin soon after the surgery. This allows the body’s strength to return. The more a person moves, the better it is in restoring movement and strengthening the joint. For young people, joint replacement surgery ensures mobility, flexibility, and overall strength within a shorter span of time. It enables them to resume their daily activities without having to stay cognizant of pain management.

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