New Delhi: Dr Uma Kumar, who serves as the Head of the Department of Rheumatology at AIIMS, has shared insights into the intricacies of arthritis and the comprehensive healthcare services offered to patients in commemoration of World Arthritis Day.

According to the latest survey by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in 2022, arthritis affects a significant 22.5 per cent of Indian adults, signifying that one in every five adults in the country grapples with this debilitating ailment. Particularly concerning is the disproportionate burden on women, who are more susceptible to various forms of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, highlighting potential hormonal and genetic factors at play.

AIIMS professionals, including Dr Rima Dada and Dr Uma Kumar, have conducted groundbreaking research highlighting the positive impact of yoga on arthritis patients. Their study is the first to highlight the positive impact of yoga on modulation of the T cell subsets, T cell aging markers, epigenetic alterations and associated transcription factors in RA that found that just 8 weeks of yoga practice significantly reduced disease activity, normalised the biomarkers associated with inflammation, and maintained T17/Treg cell homeostasis.

AIIMS offers holistic support to individuals from diverse social backgrounds, focusing on more than 200 rheumatological disorders, including approximately 60 autoimmune conditions like arthritis and lupus. The approach includes point-of-care services, occupational therapists, vocational counselors, and initiatives to facilitate employment opportunities in collaboration with government bodies.

In an exclusive interview with Millennium Post, Dr Uma Kumar emphasised the diversity of arthritis and its varied causes, symptoms, and treatment strategies and explained that arthritis often emerges as a manifestation of different rheumatological illnesses, with specific symptoms depending on the affected organs. For instance, a patient with rheumatoid arthritis and lung involvement may experience breathlessness and a dry cough, while vasculitis could lead to skin ulceration.

The influence of genetics on certain types of arthritis was discussed as well. Dr. Kumar clarified that while genetic factors play a role, they contribute only 40 per cent, with lifestyle choices significantly affecting one’s susceptibility to arthritis. Furthermore, the intersection between arthritis and other health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and mental health issues, was explored. Dr Kumar pointed out that the chronic nature of arthritis, the prolonged use of medication, and the resultant disruptions to family and work life can lead to stress, hypertension, and depression. This, in turn, increases the risk of coronary artery diseases due to the persistent low-grade inflammation present in the body.