Hyderabad: COVID-19 had a significant impact on bone and joint health and has resulted in increased complications in the joints. In general, bone health has been neglected in the Indian healthcare system.
According to many studies, more than 80% of the Indian population is Vit-D deficient. During the pandemic, due to lockdowns people were confined to their houses and were not properly exposed to sunlight that further aggravated Vit-D deficiency.
Lack of physical exercise has led to increased obesity issues in people which in turn have increased joint problems. Due to decreased mobility during lockdowns, there were increased complaints about muscle and bone pains.
On the other hand, due to over usage of steroids during the pandemic there was a rise in the incidence of conditions like osteoporosis and avascular necrosis of joints. Steroids decrease bone mineral density and predispose an individual to weak bones. Besides, steroids decrease blood supply to the bones and joints and results in the development of avascular necrosis in joints. The hip is most commonly affected by this condition.
There has been an alarming surge in bone and joint infections post-COVID. Immunity has been compromised with high steroid usage and people are more prone to infections.
How to tackle bone and joint issues and keep ourselves fit
Healthy diet: Diet rich in calcium, Vitamins D and C, and proteins are important for maintaining good bone and joint health. Calcium-rich foods like milk, cheese, and other dairy products are key for bone health. If you are not exposed to sunlight properly then you need to supplement with Vit-D tablets/syrups.
Regular exercise: Exercise is the most important factor in keeping our bones and joints healthy. Exercising at least four days a week will improve strength and overall fitness. Regular exercise will improve joint movement, strength, and flexibility of muscles. Strength training and weight bearing exercises are the best ways to build healthy bones and muscles.
Maintaining healthy weight: Keeping our weight within the normal range of BMI (body mass index) is very important for preventing joint damage. Being overweight puts our joints at high risk for early arthritis as it will increase stress on the joints.
Avoid smoking: Smoking decreases blood supply to bones and makes them weak.
Avoid excessive alcohol use: Heavy alcohol decreases bone density and it also interferes with adsorption and regulation of calcium and Vitamin D thus increasing risk of osteoporosis.
The author Dr. Gopi Krishna Reddy G. is consultant orthopaedic and joint replacement surgeon at SLG Hospitals.