In Spain, osteoarthritis is already the first disease of the joints, affecting more than 7 million of people. According to the World Health Organization WHO, 28% of those over 60 years of age have osteoarthritis and in 80% of cases it causes a limitation of their movements. How to prevent this disease to delay its appearance and what work can older people do to mitigate its symptoms? We talked about all this with Juan Cartagena, co-founder of Rosita Longevitythe app to improve the quality of life for those over 60 years of age that defines itself as “a longevity coach, who through a mobile application will guide you so that you can live many more years with health and energy” and that It has a plan guided by different professional medical experts, physiotherapists, trainers, nutritionists and psychologists.
When we talk about osteoarthritis, what are we talking about?We are talking about a disease that affects 70% of the population over 65 years of age. It is a pain that people who suffer from it suffer 365 days a year and one of the main causes of sedentary lifestyle, because when something hurts, you do not want to leave home. It is also one of the highest costs for Social Security in terms of visits to the doctor, medication…
It is a pain that is suffered 365 days a year and one of the main causes of sedentary lifestyle
Can it only be treated by medication?No, but it is the easiest thing to offer when a primary care physician only has 7 minutes per patient, including the administrative part. The problem with medication is that today you need one pill and two months from now you need two for the same effect.
What causes that pain?It is a degeneration of the cartilage that covers the bone ends. It is an avascular zone, which has no irrigation and is nourished by synovial fluid. Imbalances are generated with age, the cartilage is not well nourished and deteriorates. It is as if we removed the first layer of the bone. When it disappears, it remains uncovered and generates constant inflammation, which reduces mobility and in turn causes the fluid to flow less, creating a loop.
As life expectancy increases, more people will have osteoarthritis, which is a problem that we will all have to face
Is it more common for women than men? Are the reasons known?It occurs more in women but perhaps because they have a longer life expectancy and being degenerative, it affects older people more. As life expectancy increases, more and more people will develop osteoarthritis, which is a problem that we will all have to face. For this reason, this is one of the prevention pillars on which we have focused our Rosita Longevity app.
What are the actual symptoms and how does it limit quality of life? If it is not addressed in time, what kind of complications can it produce?Above all it translates into pain, a pain that you feel all day every day. This has a limiting effect on the quality of life and is a sedentary lifestyle. Since it hurts, I don’t go out. And by not going out or not wanting to go out alone, I lose muscle mass, my risk of falls increases, and falls are the beginning of the risk of dependency in the form of sarcopenia and frailty.
The problem is that chronic diseases are slow. If you break your arm today, you go to the traumatologist immediately. However, osteoarthritis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s are very slow, and it seems that it is never time to start taking care of yourself or go to the doctor. It is important to break this vicious circle, and we cannot wait until we are 80 years old to act. We have to consider pain more than just a nuisance, think of it as a disease that must be really taken care of from the age of 60, as soon as we begin to notice it and we still have a lot of cartilage left.
The problem is that chronic diseases are slow and it seems that it is never time to start taking care of yourself or go to the doctor
To what extent can osteoarthritis be prevented or at least take steps to delay its onset?It can be palliated. As we say, it is degenerative and it will get worse over time. We can treat it with stem cells every several years as we do at the Balneario de Cofrentes, centrifuging platelet-rich plasma that is collected from the back and infiltrated into the joint.
In the day to day of what we can do from home, above all we must work on mobility with gentle exercise to increase the flow of the joint. It is also important to increase muscle mass, which reduces the load on the joint and reduces friction. Recent studies suggest that pressure on the joint causes the release of certain injection-like growth factors. Yes, you have to control which exercises and with how much load.
This is what we mainly do, through a plan of daily exercises to reduce pain, achieving that the majority of users reduce their pain in less than a month. Working on pain is important because it is the first thing our users notice and that motivates them. By motivating themselves, they continue training and increase their muscle mass, thus initiating the virtuous cycle.
Working on pain is important because it is the first thing our users notice and by reducing it they are motivated
What exercises, type of diet and other aspects are the most recommended to help prevent the onset of osteoarthritis?Exercises in the pool or exercises involving extensive joint movements with controlled loads are recommended. But above all, the most important thing is consistency. Just as we cannot expect to show abs after 3 days of going to the gym, we cannot expect the joint to improve in a while. Consistency and working on our joint pain each day is the foundational element of any program. I usually say that the best exercise is the one you do.