Osteoarthritis, a disease of joints, is reported more among women than men, says a study conducted by the Arthritis Foundation of India (AFI).
The study suggested that the severity of arthritis is also much higher in females as compared to males. It found an alarmingly high incidence of arthritis; 26.5 per cent among younger people in their 30s.
"In all, 55 per cent of the patients (with osteoarthritis) were females, as compared to 45 per cent males," said the AFI study conducted among 600 OPD patients in Doctor Hedgewar Aarogya Sansthan, Vir Savarkar Hospital, Jag Pravesh Chandra Hospital and R.K. Hospital here.
The AFI, Indian member of International Osteoporosis Foundation and the World Health Organization (WHO), conducted an epidemiological study on the situation of osteoarthritis in Delhi and found obesity and lack of awareness as a leading factor contributing to its prevalence.
"Obesity was a major contributing factor, with 53 per cent of the respondents found to be obese," the study said.
Also, with the risk factors like hypertension, diabetes, thyroid and others, the progress of the diseases was much quicker in many cases within two years, it added.
The study also considered the socio-economic background of the patients and found that 70 per cent of the total participants (in the study) belonged to less than Rs 25,000 per month income group, while the remaining 30 per cent belonged to above Rs 25,000 a month bracket.
"The marginally high severe cases can be attributed to the lifestyle in lower socio-economic group like elevator-less multi-storied housing, Indian toilets and more of them sitting frequently on the floor, etc."
In terms of the age bracket, 73.5 per cent patients, who attended the arthritis OPD for knee arthritis, were more than 40 years of age.
"This study throws light on the prevalence of osteoarthritis in Delhi, and the general public's response to the disease. Unfortunately, there is very little awareness among the masses, which is not a good sign and is preventing people from getting the right treatment at the right time," said Dr. Sushil Sharma, Senior Orthopedician and AFI Chairman.
The study noted that progression of the disease could have been prevented and the suffering minimised to quite an extent had it been reported in the mild stage.