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Doctors advocate for early diagnosis to curb high arthritis cases

 Dr Obonye Omweri attending to a patient. [Benard Lusigi, Standard]

When Joyce Isoke, 60, from Bungoma County, started feeling sharp and persistent pains in her knee joints, she decided to go for a medical check-up.

At the hospital where a free medical camp was being conducted, it was discovered that she had arthritis.

“I was shocked when a doctor told me the news,” Ms Isoke says.

For a long time, she resorted to using over-the-counter drugs to relieve the pain without any progress.

“The drugs have been acting as short-term pain relievers until the doctors told me that I have a problem with my bones that had resulted in arthritis. I count myself lucky after my condition was diagnosed and I was introduced to medication, therapy and clinic sessions at Hopkins Hospital,” said Ms Isoke.

Kelvin Ombima, 34, from Kakamega County started experiencing back pains and when he decided to visit the hospital he found out that the back pain was a result of heavy lifting.

“I have been advised to go slow with my training and not to lift heavy weights, I have been given a prescription and booked for clinic session that will help to prevent further bones related diseases like arthritis, hip, and spine complications,” said Ombima.

According to Dr Obonye Omweri, Director at Hopkins Hospital in Bungoma, half of the patients and admissions at the facility suffer chronic diseases, especially orthopaedic problems like arthritis which affects the elderly between the ages of 50 and above with few cases involving youths and minors.

Dr Obonye said due to high cases of arthritis in the Western region, the hospital has decided to hold regular free medical camps in partnership with other health organisations and county governments to sensitise and create awareness among locals on how to curb the rising cases of arthritis, spine diseases among other chronic diseases.

“We have organised a free medical camp and in just one day we have received over 1,000 people from across the region and what concerns me is that half of those who have turned up are suffering from arthritis or are having bone-related diseases and problems,” said Obonye.

“We have an orthopaedic expert who is screening and assessing the patients for free and advising on steps to be taken, be it surgery or therapy and on that note as a hospital we have decided we will help the patients in their treatment and this is an opportunity for us to put in place measures to prevent pre-exposure signs that might lead to nuisance and chronic diseases like arthritis,” he said.

According to him, traumatic falls and sports-related injuries may cause back injuries which may lead to arthritis.

“Most of the patients are elderly but we have seen in some cases where those engaging in sports like lifting heavy materials sustain injuries with few cases involving minors, that is why we are insisting on prevention,” said Dr Obonye.

Dr Yonah Opondo, an orthopaedic consultant at Hopkins Hospital said out of 15 patients he handles 10 have arthritis and the rest could be suffering from spine complications.

“Most of these people are elderly and surprisingly, most of them have ignored visiting health facilities for medical check-ups until they reach a point where the problem is unbearable, like today only during this free medical camp 10 out of 15 patients are having arthritis and five are suffering from spine and hip-related complications,” said Opondo.

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