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Arthritis Alert: Nigerian Expert Urges Consultation with Therapists Before Exercise

In a wake-up call to Nigerians battling arthritis, Dr. Udoka Okafor, the National President of the Association of Clinical and Academic Physiotherapists of Nigeria, has issued a stern warning about the importance of cautious exercise choices for those suffering from this condition. Dr. Okafor, an esteemed associate professor of ergonomics physiotherapy at the University of Lagos’ College of Medicine, made this critical announcement during the commemoration of the 2023 World Physiotherapy Day. The event, held annually on the 8th of September, centered around the theme ‘Arthritis and Forms of Inflammatory Arthritis.’

Understanding Arthritis: Dr. Okafor shed light on the dire consequences of neglecting arthritis. He clarified that arthritis is a condition marked by degenerative changes in the joints, resulting in pain, swelling, and reduced mobility. It can be categorized into two forms: degenerative, associated with aging, and inflammatory, caused by infections or other factors leading to joint swelling and tenderness.

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Exercise Caution: As part of his address, Dr. Okafor strongly advised arthritis patients to consult a qualified physiotherapist before embarking on any exercise regimen. He emphasized that certain exercises could exacerbate their health issues. For instance, jogging, which involves repetitive impact on the body’s weight-bearing joints like the knees and hips, should be avoided by arthritis sufferers as it may further weaken affected joints.

Arthritis-Friendly Exercises: Instead, Dr. Okafor recommended alternative exercises that are gentler on the joints, particularly for those with knee arthritis. Swimming, brisk walking, cycling, and aerobics were highlighted as safer options to maintain fitness without harming the joints further.

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Public Awareness and Lifestyle Changes: Dr. Okafor underscored the importance of public education about arthritis to promote healthier lifestyles. He stressed that active living can significantly reduce the impact of arthritis. World Physiotherapy Day serves as a platform to emphasize the role of physiotherapy in managing arthritis and advocating for lifestyle modifications.

Attention to Children’s Health: In a compassionate appeal, Dr. Okafor urged parents to be vigilant about any joint swelling observed in their children. He cautioned that even children can suffer from inflammatory arthritis, and early detection is crucial. Unfortunately, many parents overlook these symptoms, mistaking them for minor injuries. To address this issue, Dr. Okafor encouraged parents to promptly seek medical attention if they notice persistent joint swelling or other concerning changes in their children’s health.

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In the fight against arthritis, Dr. Udoka Okafor’s message resonates as a clarion call for Nigerians to prioritize their joint health and seek professional guidance before engaging in physical activities. This year’s World Physiotherapy Day, with its focus on arthritis, serves as a reminder of the pivotal role physiotherapy plays in managing this condition and promoting healthier lifestyles. Ignoring arthritis is not an option, and early intervention can make a world of difference in the lives of those affected.

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