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Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis in Young Adults

Dato’ Dr Badrul Shah Badaruddin, Consultant Orthopaedic,
Arthritis & Sports Surgeon from ALTY Orthopedic Hospital

Arthritis is an old person disease – how many times have you heard this? The truth of the matter is that while it is a condition that is often seen in the elderly, many young adults are also afflicted by it. The problem is that younger people with joint pain, swelling, or stiffness often dismiss arthritis as a cause.

It is important to note that arthritis is not a single disease. In fact, there are more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions that many suffer from. From this list, one of the most common forms of arthritis that affect young adults is rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory disorder which affects the lining of your joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune and systemic disease, which means it affects the whole body. People can get rheumatoid arthritis at any age, and in fact, eight in every 100,000 people aged between 18 to 34 are found to have rheumatoid arthritis.1 In Malaysia, it affects about five in 1000 people.2

Early indicators of rheumatoid arthritis in young adults:

  • Joint stiffness: One of the early signs of rheumatoid arthritis is the feeling of stiffness in one or more of the smaller joints. This most commonly occurs in the hands and it can occur at any time of the day. The stiffness is usually gradual, although it can also flare up suddenly. The stiffness often comes on in the morning, or after an extended period of inactivity. When joints are stiff, mobility is affected and
  • Joint pain: Joints tend to be more tender after it has gone through a bout of stiffness and the pain can be felt even at rest. The fingers and the wrists are typically the most affected although the knees, shoulders, ankles and feet hurt too. Joint paint affects quality of life, as even simple day-to-day tasks such as typing, or cooking can be an excruciating process.
  • Joint inflammation: Inflammation of the joints are also common and can cause your joints to appear bigger. Unfortunately, symmetrical joint swelling is also an identifying characteristic of this disease. The inflammation can affect the tendons and ligaments, causing deformities which can decrease the range of motion, leading to further difficulty in doing basic chores like putting on clothes.
  • Numbness and tingling: When the joints are inflamed, it can put pressure on the nerves. This can lead to numbness or a tingling sensation, particularly in the hands, and can be uncomfortable and worrisome.

Those who suffer any of these symptoms should also pay close attention to any other signs as well. For instance, when fevers are accompanied by any of these symptoms, it could be an indicator of rheumatoid arthritis.

That said, these are just the most common signs and symptoms. Studies indicate that 40 percent of the people who have rheumatoid arthritis also experience signs and symptoms that don't involve the joints.3 Rheumatoid arthritis can affect many non-joint structures as well. This includes the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, kidneys, salivary glands, nerve tissue, bone marrow and blood vessels.

Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t a disease that you only start to worry about when you’re well into your 50s. You need to start thinking about prevention before you reach your 50s and start taking steps to reduce the risk of stiff and painful joints as you age. There is clear evidence that shows the correlation between arthritis with lifestyle choices, remaining physically active will help you stay mobile and will be good for your general health.

Risk factors to take note of:

  • Gender: Research shows that women are two-to-three times more likely to get this disease compared to men
  • Genetics: While there is no specific gene that causes rheumatoid arthritis, there’s a genetic predisposition that requires one or two environmental triggers to start.
  • Smoking: Studies have shown that smoking cigarettes increases the risk of developing this disease. For those who already have it, the disease will get worse.
  • Obesity: Excess weight puts added pressure on the joints.

Given the unpredictability of the rheumatoid arthritis, taking steps to keep it at bay is important. Quit smoking, maintain a healthy weight and limit exposure to environmental pollutions.

While there is no cure for this debilitating illness, treatments have improved greatly in recent years and there's a clear benefit in starting treatment at an early stage. If you have aches and pains, take them seriously even if you think it’s nothing. Pain tolerance levels for the younger generation can be high, but pain is pain and you shouldn’t ignore them – it’s your body’s way of giving you a message. Pandemic or not, you must prioritize your bone and joint health. Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that can occur at any point in your life, regardless of age. So, consult your specialist and get it checked out.

Memahami Artritis Reumatoid dalam Golongan Dewasa Muda

Dato’ Dr. Badrul Shah Badaruddin, Pakar Bedah Ortopedik,
Artritis & Sukan dari ALTY Orthopedic Hospital

Artritis hanya dihidapi oleh individu yang berusia – seringkah anda mendengar pernyataan seperti ini dilontarkan? Hakikatnya, meskipun kondisi tersebut lazimnya dihidapi oleh individu berumur, sebilangan besar golongan yang lebih muda juga terkesan. Hakikatnya, ramai golongan muda yang mengalami sakit sendi, pembengkakan, atau kekejangan tidak menyangka artritis boleh menjadi punca komplikasi tersebut.

Umum perlu sedar bahawa artritis tidak hadir dalam satu bentuk sahaja. Bahkan, terdapat lebih daripada 100 jenis artritis dan kondisi berkaitan yang dialami oleh ramai individu. Daripada jumlah ini, antara jenis artritis yang paling lazim dihadapi oleh golongan dewasa muda ialah artritis reumatoid, iaitu gangguan keradangan kronik yang memberi kesan pada dinding sendi anda.

Artritis reumatoid merupakan penyakit autoimun dan sistemik, yang bermakna ia mampu menyerang seluruh badan. Sesiapa sahaja berpotensi untuk menghidap artritis reumatoid, tanpa mengira peringkat usia, malah lapan dalam setiap 100,000 individu berusia 18 hingga 34 tahun didapati menghidap artritis reumatoid.1 Di Malaysia, lebih kurang lima dalam 1,000 individu mengalami kondisi ini.2

Tanda-tanda awal artritis reumatoid dalam golongan dewasa muda:

  • Kekejangan sendi: Antara tanda-tanda awal artritis reumatoid ialah kekejangan pada mana-mana bahagian sendi kecil. Ia biasanya terjadi pada bahagian tangan dan ia boleh berlaku pada bila-bila masa. Kekejangan ini lazimnya berlaku secara beransur-ansur, namun ia juga boleh terjadi serta-merta. Ia juga boleh terjadi pada waktu pagi, atau selepas tempoh ketidakaktifan yang lama. Apabila sendi menjadi kejang, pergerakan individu akan terjejas.
  • Sakit sendi: Sendi biasanya akan menjadi lebih lembut selepas mengalami kekejangan, dan kesakitan boleh dirasai walaupun ketika sedang berehat. Jari-jemari dan pergelangan tangan merupakan anggota badan yang paling kerap terkesan, dan kesakitan juga boleh dialami pada bahagian lutut, bahu, kaki dan pergelangan kaki. Sakit sendi menjejaskan kualiti hidup kerana aktiviti yang ringkas seperti menaip atau memasak juga boleh menjadi pengalaman yang menyakitkan.
  • Keradangan sendi: Keradangan pada sendi juga biasa berlaku dan boleh menyebabkan sendi anda kelihatan lebih besar. Malangnya, pembengkakan sendi bersimetri juga merupakan tanda kewujudan penyakit ini. Keradangan boleh memberi kesan terhadap tendon dan ligamen, lantas menjurus kepada kecacatan yang mampu membataskan julat pergerakan (range of motion), maka tugas-tugas yang mudah akan menjadi lebih sukar untuk dilakukan.
  • Kekebasan dan sesemut (‘tingling’): Apabila anggota sendi mengalami keradangan, ia akan memberi tekanan pada saraf – lalu menjurus kepada kekebasan atau sensasi sesemut, khususnya di tangan, dan mungkin tidak menyelesakan serta mengkhuatirkan.

Mereka yang mengalami simptom-simptom di atas juga harus memberi perhatian ke atas petanda yang lain. Misalnya, jika anda demam dan mengalami mana-mana simptom ini, maka ia mungkin memberi indikasi mengenai kewujudan artritis reumatoid.

Meskipun begitu, ia merupakan petanda dan simptom yang paling lazim sahaja. Kajian mendapati bahawa 40 peratus individu yang mempunyai artritis reumatoid juga mengalami tanda-tanda dan simptom yang tidak melibatkan sendi.3 Artritis reumatoid juga boleh menjejaskan banyak anggota badan yang lain selain sendi. Ia meliputi kulit, mata, paru-paru, jantung, buah pinggang, kelenjar liur, tisu saraf, sumsum tulang dan saluran darah.

Bukan seperti kepercayaan umum, penyakit ini bukannya perlu dibimbangkan hanya setelah usia kita menginjak 50-an. Anda perlu memikirkan tentang cara untuk mencegahnya dari awal dan mengambil langkah yang betul untuk mengurangkan risiko kekejangan dan sakit sendi. Terdapat bukti yang jelas menunjukkan korelasi antara artritis dan gaya hidup seseorang individu. Dengan kekal aktif secara jasmani, ia dapat memelihara kebolehan kita untuk bergerak, selain secara amnya memberi manfaat kepada kesihatan kita.

Faktor risiko yang perlu dipertimbangkan:

  • Jantina: Kajian menunjukkan bahawa golongan wanita adalah dua hingga tiga kali ganda lebih cenderung untuk menghidap penyakit ini berbanding golongan lelaki.
  • Genetik: Meskipun tiada gen khusus yang menyebabkan artritis reumatoid, terdapat kecenderungan genetik yang memerlukan sesuatu pencetus untuk memulakannya.
  • Merokok: Kajian telah mendapati bahawa tabiat merokok meningkatkan risiko penghidapan penyakit tersebut. Bagi mereka yang sudah mempunyai kondisi ini, ia akan menjadi lebih buruk.
  • Obesiti: Berat berlebihan memberi tekanan pada sendi.

Memandangkan penyakit artritis reumatoid sukar untuk dijangka, pengambilan langkah pencegahan adalah mustahak. Hentikan tabiat merokok, kekalkan berat badan pada paras yang sihat dan hadkan pendedahan terhadap pencemaran alam. Walaupun penyakit ini tiada penawarnya, keupayaan rawatan telah berkembang dengan pesat sejak kebelakangan ini dan rawatan yang dimulakan pada peringkat awal terbukti bermanfaat. Jika anda mengalami kesakitan, jangan pandang enteng.

Paras daya toleransi kesakitan bagi generasi yang muda mungkin lebih tinggi, namun ia tidak bermakna anda boleh bersikap culas – tubuh badan anda berkomunikasi menggunakan kaedah seperti ini. Kesihatan tulang dan sendi harus diutamakan pada setiap masa sama ada kita sedang dilatari pandemik atau sebaliknya. Artritis reumatoid merupakan penyakit yang boleh dihidapi pada bila-bila masa, tanpa mengira peringkat usia. Oleh itu, rujuk pakar kesihatan anda, buat pemeriksaan dan ambil langkah yang sewajarnya.

Is your spine able to support you through FMCO 3.0?

Attributed to Dr Lim Sze Wei, Consultant Orthopaedic, Spine and Trauma Surgeon,
ALTY Orthopaedic Hospital

The past year has seen a transition to work from home practices by companies stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. While these practices have played a big role in enabling remote work options, improving flexibility and keeping us safe indoors, we need to start evaluating some associated health risks that have emerged in the last 1.5 years.

According to a study published in the International Journal of Health Sciences and Research, 70.5% participants between ages 18-65 years working from home reported discomfort and pain, especially in the lower back and neck region1. This information while not surprising, is definitely alarming, as more and more young professionals report increasing incidences of pain in the back and neck region.

At ALTY Orthopaedic Hospital, we are seeing rising cases of back and neck problems in Malaysians between the 25-40 year age group, particularly in those who are working from home and spending long hours in front of their devices. With Malaysia entering another full Movement Control Order (FMC0 3.0), we can continue to see a rise in back and neck related disorders amongst young working professionals.

While most of us have a tendency to wave off these aches and pains, it is important to remember that these can manifest into severe long term degenerative problems of the spine such as slipped disc and sciatica pain leading to further discomfort. Fortunately, by changing certain lifestyle habits and paying more attention to your posture, you can reduce your risk of painful spine conditions in the future. If you have been working from home and find yourself having back and neck pain during FMC0 3.0, here are some factors to take into consideration.

Set up an adequate work station

In many instances, we see people working on their laptops for long hours while slouching on the couch or even lying on the bed complain of back and neck pain. This is the inevitable outcome of improper sitting and working positions.

As we get accustomed to extended periods of working from home, it becomes very important to have a proper work station set up that allows you to sit and work comfortably. While we might not be able to have a complete commercial set up, comprising ergonomic chairs etc. at home, in most cases a table and chair is good enough. You can even place a cushion at the back of your chair to support your spine while sitting.

Another key point, and this is definitely important to reduce incidences of neck pain, is how you angle your laptop or screen while working. An ideal laptop height and angle lets you view the screen without rotating or flexing your neck. Consider using a laptop stand or larger screen when working from home. One tip is to simply elevate the laptop with a stack of books.

Investing in a simple home office set up - a table, a chair, a stool and a laptop stand will go long way in supporting your back and neck while working from home.

Include stretches in your routine

Work from home practices have shifted movement related dynamics as working professionals remain glued to their desks and screens for longer hours. Sitting for such extended periods without proper posture is detrimental to not only your spine and back muscles, but for your overall health.

A good way to avoid aches and pains at the end of the day is to include some light stretching movements in your work day. Simple stretches like cat and cow posture, toe touches, leg and calf extensions and head rotations are good enough to begin with. Together, this simple routine done for a few counts can alleviate the stress in your back muscles, reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injuries and improve posture and muscle coordination.

Not only is stretching beneficial for your back, it is also a great way to take a break from the screen, improve blood circulation and mental stimulation.

Mind your posture

Typically, good posture is defined as a position when your ear, shoulder and pelvis are all aligned in one straight line. However, it is natural to lean forward while working on a laptop or sit in a slouched position. Slouching or incorrect posture is often the main culprit that can lead to injuries of the spine and back, especially in the younger demographic.

Often when working in a commercial set up, ergonomics can solve this problem. The challenge then is how we can maintain the same while working from home.

One way to maintain good posture at the desk is to provide your back and neck good support. Consider using a toadstool so that your feet are well supported, keep your elbows at a 90-degree angle as you work on your laptop and change your position a few hours to avoid slouching on the desk. Include regular intervals from the screen and walk around your workspace to keep your spine and back muscles active. You can also get a family member or friend to nudge you when you start slouching, so you can correct your sitting position.

Don’t ignore those aches and pains

Lastly and most importantly, if your pain continues to persist over 6 weeks, is accompanied by sensations of numbness, tingling and has started to spread to the hip, legs, foot region, consult your physician immediately.

In most cases, mechanical pain or pain that arises from incorrect postures, sitting for longer hours etc. improves if followed by periods of rest. If your pain has not improved after long resting periods and you experience other symptoms like loss of appetite, fever etc. it could be an indication of several other disorders including spinal infection. This requires proper diagnosis and further consultations in order to ensure that medical intervention is given at the right time.

Back related problems, more particularly, lower back related problems have been on a steady rise since work from home became a norm in the pandemic. While there are several factors that contribute to this – such as unlimited sunlight, perceived deficiency of Vitamin D, restricted movement – small steps and changes at home can prevent these issues from leading to other lifestyle complications.

全面行管下的脊椎问题因应之道

作者:林诗伟, ALTY骨科医院(ALTY Orthopaedic Hospital)
脊椎与外伤手术骨科医生

随着自新冠病毒疫情爆发以后,很多公司过去一年多来都采取了居家办工的策略。这些方法在提供远距办工选择丶提升灵活性及让我们待在家里以策安全上扮演了重要角色之际,我们还必须正视过去一年半来所出现的相关健康风险问题。

根据发表在国际健康科学与研究期刊(International Journal of Health Sciences and Research)上的一分报告,70.5%的18至65岁居家办工受访者表示感觉不舒服和疼痛,特别是在下背和颈部 。虽然这个资料不让人觉得意外,但绝对值得我们警惕,因为愈来愈多年轻专业人士回报说背部和颈部疼痛。

ALTY骨科医院(ALTY Orthopaedic Hospital)发现,愈来愈多25至40岁的大马人背部和颈部出了问题,特别是居家办工及久坐在电脑前面的人。随著大马再度实施全面行动管制令(FMC0 3.0),我们将看到年轻专业人士的背部和颈部问题继续攀升。1

虽然大部分人的疼痛感最终都会消失,但要记得的是,这些疼痛可能会恶化成脊椎严重长期退化问题,例如椎间盘突出及会造成更不舒服的坐骨神经痛。还好,您可以改变部分生活习惯及更留意坐姿来降低脊椎疼痛风险。如果您居家办工,而且发现全面行动管制令期间背部及颈部疼痛,请考虑以下方法。

准备好适当的工作台

我们常常看到别人懒散的窝在沙发里长时间用笔记型电脑,有些人甚至躺在床上抱怨背部及颈部疼痛。这就是坐姿和工作姿势不当必定会造成的结果。

随著我们愈来愈习惯长时间居家办工,很重要的是必须准备好能让您舒服坐著工作的适当工作台。尽管我们不太可能在家里准备一套包括人体功学椅在内的彻底办公室化工作台,但有了桌子和椅子,基本上就算足够了。您甚至可以在椅背上准备好靠垫,它能在您坐定后支撑您的脊椎。

另一个对减少颈痛问题来说绝对重要的重点是,工作时的笔电或萤幕角度。理想的笔电高度和角度是,看萤幕时不需要转动颈部。居家办工时请考虑使用笔电托架或大型萤幕。方法之一就是用几本书垫高笔电。

投资包括桌子丶椅子丶搁脚凳及笔电托架在内的简单居家办公设备,长期而言能在居家办工时照顾到您的背部及颈部。

养成伸展运动习惯

随著专业人士更长时间坐在桌子和电脑前,居家办工时的动态生活习惯也已改变。长时间久坐不换坐姿不只对脊椎和背部肌肉有害,同时也对您的整体健康不利。

避免久坐后出现疼痛的好方法之一,就是做点伸展运动。例如猫牛式丶触足丶小腿伸展及头部转动等简单伸展运动都是不错的运动。这些简单的的生活习惯多做几次就能舒缓背部肌肉压力丶降低肌肉与骨骼受伤风险,以及改善体态与肌肉间的协调性。

伸展运动不只对背部有益,它也是您暂时离开萤幕稍作休息丶改善血液循环及提振精神的好方法。

留意坐姿

基本上,好坐姿指的是耳朵丶肩膀及骨盆同在一条直线上。不过,我们用笔电或坐姿懒散时身体都会很自然往前倾。懒散坐姿或不当坐姿通常都是造成脊椎及背部受伤的罪魁祸首,特别是年轻一族。

进办公室工作时,人体功学椅能解决这个问题。接下来的挑战是,居家办工时如何才能维持同样的效果?

维持好坐姿的方法之一,就是为背部及颈部找到好靠垫。您可以考虑使用搁脚凳,这样一来,脚就会有好的支撑。用笔电时,手肘呈90度直角,并且工作一段时间后换坐姿以避免坐姿懒散。包括间隔休息双眼以及站起来走动,让您的脊椎和背部肌肉维持活跃。您也可以请家人或朋友在您的坐姿开始懒散时提醒您,这样一来您能纠正坐姿。

别忽略疼痛

最后,同时也是最重要的是,如果疼痛感持续超过6周,而且还有发麻丶刺痛的感觉和漫延到臂部丶腿和脚部,请马上看医生。

大部分情况下,因为坐姿不当丶久坐不动等造成的机械式疼痛都会在休息一段时间后改善。如果长时间休息后疼痛感仍无法改善,而且出现其他症状,例如失去胃口和发烧等,很可能是其他生理机能失调,包括脊椎感染。这就必须适当诊断和进一步检查,才能确保适时治疗。

背部相关问题,或更具体的说是下背相关问题在疫情期间居家办工成为新常态后已变得愈来愈普遍。造成这个问题的因素不少,例如缺少维他命D和行动受限等,但小小改变居家生活习惯能预防这些问题演变成其他生活障碍。

Don’t Ignore That Shoulder Pain – Here’s What You Need To Know About Frozen Shoulder

Dato’ Dr Badrul Shah Badaruddin, Consultant Orthopaedic,
Arthritis & Sports Surgeon from ALTY Orthopedic Hospital

By now, most Malaysians are probably well-adjusted to the whole working from home routine. Some parts of it may be enjoyable but other parts like aches and pain from a poorly set-up workspace – not so much. At ALTY Orthopaedic Hospital, we saw that shoulder pain is a common occurrence among patients, especially now where people are working from home and spending long hours in front of their devices.

The abnormal posture when someone crouches over a laptop for several hours each day can lead to shoulder injuries and pain. In addition, Malaysian are also living an increasingly sedentary lifestyle – especially during the pandemic that made keeping active a challenge. Our muscles become flaccid with limited movement, and this means even regular activities like opening a door or stretching to reach something might lead to muscle strain eventually leading to inflammation, or worse – a frozen shoulder.

What causes Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder, also known as ‘adhesive capsulitis’, is a condition in which the movement of the shoulder becomes limited, characterized by stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint. Frozen shoulder occurs when the capsule that surrounds the normal shoulder joint become thick, stiff, and inflamed.

Other factors that can lead to frozen shoulder includes a sudden jerk of the shoulder or awkward sleeping position which could cause tendonitis. Tendonitis is an inflammation around the tendon that may spread to the capsule and causing it to be inflamed and stiff – resulting in a frozen shoulder.

Sometimes inflammation around the capsule that causes frozen shoulder can also occur as an acute response to viral fever or flu such as COVID-19 infection. It is quite common to experience joint inflammation when our body’s immune system is tackling the infections. This condition is known as viral arthralgia, and it usually disappears on its own without any lasting effects. Although in rare cases, the symptoms can prolong.

The process of getting a frozen shoulder usually begin with an inflammation. Inflammation causes pain that is worse with movement and limits the shoulder's range of motion. If the inflammation around the capsule is not treated properly, the pain and stiffness may develop into a chronic state. Therefore, any shoulder pain is worth getting looked at soon before something simple to deal with develops into something a lot harder, which may need surgery.

How to reduce inflammation?

Below are some ways to help reduce inflammation and keep it in check:

  • Muscle movement: Regular exercise is an excellent way to prevent inflammation. According to research published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, one 20-minute session of moderate exercise can stimulate the immune system, producing an anti-inflammatory cellular response.1
  • Heat or cold therapy: Heat can help to soothe stiff joints and relax muscles as it improves circulation and blood to flow to a particular area. While cold helps to reduce inflammation and swelling that causes pain, especially around a joint or a tendon. For basic heat therapy, you could use small heated gel packs, a hot water bottle, or a warm bath. For cold therapy, a water bottle filled with cold water, a pad cooled in the freezer, or cool water can be used.
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines: If the pain is causing a lot of discomfort, you could also speak with your physician for prescription drugs that can help to reduce your inflammation.

Treatment for Frozen Shoulder

The treatment for a frozen shoulder is focused on relieving pain and restoring the shoulder's normal range of motion. Below are some of the common treatments that we’d recommend for patients who is experiencing frozen shoulder:

  • Physiotherapy: Physical therapy is the mainstay of treatment for frozen shoulder. A physical therapist can provide exercises to help restore the shoulder’s range of motion and mobility. They may also prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs depending on the conditions. If the pain doesn’t subside for 3 to 6 months, patients may be given corticosteroids (anti-inflammatory drug) directly to the capsule.
  • Ultrasound treatment: An alternate treatment for frozen shoulder, ultrasound improves blood circulation and dilate the vessels. It can also help with improving the ability of the shoulder stretch and quicken the healing process by reducing pain as well as increasing flexibility and range of motion.2
  • Closed manipulation of the joint: A non-operative procedure done under full anaesthesia where the doctor will move the arm at the shoulder joint to break up the adhesions and loosen the stiff joints, resulting in improved range-of-motion. 95% patients will show immediate improvement and in many cases, they will be completely cured in this instance.
  • Surgical treatment: if all the conservative treatment fails, minimally invasive arthroscopic procedure may be the definitive treatment. It involves a keyhole surgery to release the adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder joint and only need one or two days of hospitalisation.

Shoulder pain can interfere with so much in your life, from work and play to sleeping. It’s important to get your shoulder checked if your pain doesn’t go away because with some injuries, such as frozen shoulder, the longer you wait for medical help, the harder it can be to treat the problem. If you have shoulder pain or swelling and it’s not going away, speak with your doctor about your diagnosis and treatment options.

Back to School Soon – Should You Be Worried About Heavy School Bags & Scoliosis?

Attributed to Dr Lim Sze Wei, Consultant Orthopaedic,
Spine and Trauma Surgeon, ALTY Orthopaedic Hospital

With schools reopening soon, it is time again for children to lug their heavy bags after almost two years of virtual learning. Prior to the pandemic, the topic of heavy school bags has been widely debated and the health issue that is commonly associated with it is scoliosis, a curvature of the spine that is often diagnosed in adolescents.

In Malaysia, studies suggest that scoliosis affects two to three per cent of the population — between 600,000 and 900,000 people1. Scoliosis usually affects teenagers from the ages of 10 to 17 during their growth spurt. The curves are often C-shaped or S-shaped and anything that measures more than 10 degrees on an X-ray is considered scoliosis. Possible complications of scoliosis include chronic pain, breathing difficulties, and a reduced capacity for exercise.

Are Heavy School Bags Causing Scoliosis

For many years, people have mistakenly believed that heavy bags can cause the spine to curve. However, research and medical reports have noted that there are no associations between the occurrence of scoliosis and heavy school bags2. It also doesn’t support the idea that heavy bag can structurally change a child’s growing spine.

Although heavy bags do not cause scoliosis, using them incorrectly or for prolonged periods can cause other forms of spinal problems such as back pain, bad posture, muscle weakness and fatigue. It is proven that adolescents who suffer from back pain will probably have chronic back pain as adults.

So, What Really Causes Scoliosis?

For one, scoliosis is not caused by carrying heavy school bags or anything a child or parent did or did not do. Scoliosis can occur in people with conditions such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy but in most cases, scoliosis is idiopathic - which means there is no known cause. Nonetheless, there are a few risk factors that have been identified such as:

  • Age – Most cases occur when a child reaches their growth spurt at the age of 10 and older
  • Gender – Girls might have a higher risk of developing scoliosis than boys.
  • Family History – Scoliosis can be inherited genetically from parents, affected siblings or close relatives with the condition

Most cases of scoliosis are mild, but some curves worsen as children grow and severe scoliosis can be disabling. Cases of scoliosis with a known cause are rarer than idiopathic scoliosis cases. Non-idiopathic scoliosis is often caused by a poorly developed spine or as a side effect of other diseases such as neuromuscular conditions, connective tissue disorders, and genetic conditions.

How to spot if your child is showing signs of scoliosis

Scoliosis can worsen very quickly during adolescence because the child is growing fast during this period. The symptoms are also not always obvious in mild cases, thus, it is important that parents check their children from time to time. The earlier it is detected, the better the odds of preventing scoliosis from causing serious issues down the line.

The good news is parents can easily check for signs and symptoms of scoliosis at home. One of the most prevalent signs of scoliosis that can be observed include a difference in the height or position of shoulders, shoulder blades or hips – for example, one shoulder seems to be consistently drooping below the other. Another one is the head not being centred with the rest of the body.

Parents may also do a quick ‘Adam’s Forward Bend Test’ to see the curvature of the spine. They can do this by asking their children to bend forward with both palms between the knees, any disparity in the rib cage or other deformities along the back could be a sign of scoliosis. If there is a suspicious situation, it is absolutely necessary to consult the doctor without wasting time.

The Treatment for Scoliosis

For mild scoliosis cases, nonsurgical treatment methods such as exercise and bracing can help to slow or stop the progression of the curve, and it can also help to relieve the back pain associated with the condition. However, these methods cannot fix the curvature in the spine and patients will need to be monitored throughout their lives to ensure that the condition does not worsen.

Surgery is only necessary if the curvature in the spine is severe and interferes with the patient’s quality of life. If surgery is necessary, advances in surgical methods have made for a safe and effective procedure, with much shorter recovery times than were associated with scoliosis surgery in the past.

At ALTY Orthopaedic Hospital, when determining a child's best treatment plan for scoliosis, our team of specialists considers the severity of the curve, where it occurs in the spine, and the child's age and stage of growth. If there is a delay of many months in diagnosis or follow-up, we may miss the chance to use very effective methods to prevent scoliosis progression during growth and it can make the treatment more challenging.

It is critical that new scoliosis cases continue to be treated as quickly as possible, notwithstanding COVID-19. In adolescent cases particularly, even a few weeks can make a significant difference to the path of treatment as well as the potential outcome. The pandemic may have put a stop to many activities in our lives, but it hasn’t stopped kids from growing fast.

As a healthcare provider, I would recommend parents to consult their medical practioners as soon as they detect any changes in the child’s growth. With routine check-ups and timely intervention, conditions like scoliosis can be managed better, giving you child a better quality of life.

Should the COVID-19 Vaccine Impact your Surgery Schedule?

Dr Mohamad Fadhil Hadi, Consultant Anaesthesiologist & Critical Care
from ALTY Orthopedic Hospital

Malaysia has recently seen a surge in COVID-19 cases contributed by the highly transmissible Delta variant of the disease. As the number of COVID-19 cases in the country continue to rise, vaccinations play a huge role in our march forward to achieve herd immunity as well as protecting individuals from acquiring further infections.

Despite a slow start of the COVID-19 National Immunisation Programme (NIP), Malaysia now boasts one of the fastest vaccination rates in the, doling out up to 500,000 doses a day in July.

Vaccines can protect the people from getting and spreading the virus, and from getting seriously ill in the event when one is infected. This is especially vital for those who have underlying health condition and vulnerable to the virus.

One of the barriers in speeding up the vaccination program was the negative public opinion and misinformation of the vaccine, spread by ‘anti-vaxxers’. According to WHO, the risk of serious adverse reactions of vaccination is much lower than the risk of serious disease or even death caused by the infection with COVID-19.

Here’s why:

  • COVID-19 vaccines were developed using science and research that has been around for decades.
  • COVID-19 vaccines went through all the required stages of clinical trials, extensive testing and monitoring that proven the vaccine as safe and effective.1

Are there any associated risks to surgery after getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

That said, we are also seeing a rise in myths associated with the administration of the vaccine. One of the most recent pieces of misinformation circulating online is regarding the risk of getting adverse reactions from anaesthesia, especially for those who are vaccinated. This claim has been dismissed by The Malaysian Society of Anaesthesiologists and the College of Anaesthesiologists2, Academy of Medicine of Malaysia, and as to date, there is no scientific evidence to validate the unfounded misinformation.

For this, it becomes important for patients to have a little background understanding of anaesthesia. Anaesthesia is a treatment using drugs called anaesthetics to keep patients from feeling pain during surgery or medical procedures.

There are three main types of anaesthesia:

  • Local anaesthesia: used to numb just a specific location of the body temporarily while the person stays fully awake.
  • Regional anaesthesia: Block sensations of pain from a large area of the body, for example, spinal and nerve block anaesthesia.
  • General anaesthesia: Used to make a patient who undergoes a surgery or procedure to be completely unconscious or “put to sleep” temporarily. General anaesthesia can be injected into a vein or inhaled.

As described, anaesthesia and the COVID-19 vaccine operate in two completely different systems and as such anaesthesia does not pose any effect to our antibody, immune system or reaction towards any vaccines. Hence it is safe for patients to undergo surgery under local anaesthesia even after getting the COVID-19 vaccination.

At ALTY, in fact, we would encourage our patients to complete their COVID-19 vaccination before their surgery as this will pose a minimal risk of infection to not just the patient themselves, but also the healthcare workers in the hospital.

What should you do before going for your surgery

The type of anaesthesia used is usually determined by anaesthesiologists, depending on the type of procedure. They will determine the best course of action via thorough investigation of vitals and make sure that the patient is medically fit before undergoing any procedure.

It is best for patients to go for their pre-operative visit and consult with their doctor or anaesthesiologist, so they can schedule or plan for the elective surgery accordingly. During this session, I would encourage patients to share their medical history with their doctor, talk about previous their experiences with anaesthesia and clarify any further questions that they might have.

As an anaesthesiologist, I would advise my patients to rest for a few days after they have completed their COVID-19 vaccination, if it is an elective case. This is because some patients may experience side effect such as fever, muscle ache or nausea post the vaccine, which are commonly seen. However, if it is an urgent case such as bone fracture or spinal injury, we would proceed to perform the procedure.

In the face of uncertainties, people often turn to social media platforms for information. However, it is important to ensure that the information is obtained from trusted sources. You can always consult your doctor or meet a doctor through telehealth service for medical advice, if you are still unsure or need more information.

Rest assured, Malaysia operates an internationally lauded healthcare system, and was also ranked first as the world's best in healthcare with its world-class healthcare services and sophisticated infrastructure, by International Living in 2019. This should give patients further confidence in their healthcare professionals in Malaysia as they strive to do their best to deliver a seamless patient experience.

Patutkah Vaksin COVID-19 Mempengaruhi Jadual Pembedahan Anda?

Dr. Mohamad Fadhil Hadi, Pakar Anestesiologi & Penjagaan Kritikal
dari ALTY Orthopedic Hospital

Mutakhir ini, Malaysia sedang menyaksikan lonjakan kes COVID-19 dengan wujudnya varian Delta yang lebih mudah berjangkit. Berlatarkan situasi ini, vaksinasi memainkan peranan yang penting dalam usaha kita untuk memperoleh imuniti kelompok, di samping melindungi sesama kita daripada terus dijangkiti oleh virus ini.

Meskipun bermula pada kadar yang perlahan, Program Imunisasi COVID-19 Kebangsaan (PICK) kini mempunyai kadar vaksinasi yang merupakan antara tertinggi di dunia, dengan pemberian mencecah 500,000 dos sehari yang direkodkan pada bulan Julai.

Vaksin dapat melindungi orang ramai daripada dijangkiti lalu menyebarkan virus tersebut, selain berpotensi untuk menghidap penyakit yang serius. Kenyataan ini khususnya perlu diberi perhatian oleh mereka yang mempunyai masalah kesihatan yang sedia ada atau jika tubuh mereka lemah untuk melawan virus berkenaan.

Antara cabaran yang terpaksa dilalui untuk menggiatkan program vaksinasi ini ialah tanggapan negatif daripada warga umum di samping maklumat salah yang sering disebarkan mengenai vaksin, dibelakangi oleh golongan anti vaksin. Menurut WHO, risiko berlakunya reaksi negatif yang serius adalah lebih rendah berbanding risiko penyakit berbahaya atau kematian yang disebabkan oleh jangkitan virus COVID-19.

Sebabnya ialah:

  • Vaksin COVID-19 telah dibangunkan menerusi sains dan penyelidikan yang berusia berdekad lamanya.
  • Vaksin COVID-19 telah melalui semua peringkat ujian klinikal yang diwajibkan, termasuk ujian dan pemantauan ekstensif yang membuktikan bahawa vaksin ini adalah selamat dan berkesan1

Wujudkah risiko yang berkait dengan pembedahan selepas memperoleh vaksin COVID-19?

Pada masa yang sama, kita juga sedang melihat penularan mitos yang berkaitan dengan pemberian vaksin. Antara maklumat salah yang disebarkan baru-baru ini adalah mengenai risiko berlakunya reaksi negatif daripada prosedur anestesia, khususnya bagi mereka yang telah divaksinasi. Kenyataan ini telah disangkal oleh Persatuan Pakar Anestesiologi Malaysia dan Kolej Pakar Anestesiologi2, Akademi Perubatan Malaysia, dan setakat ini, tiada bukti saintifik yang dapat mengesahkan kenyataan yang tidak berasas ini.

Berlatarkan situasi ini, para pesakit kini perlu memahami sedikit sebanyak mengenai anestesia. Anestesia ialah rawatan yang dibuat menerusi pemberian ubat yang dinamakan anestetik untuk mengelakkan pesakit daripada merasai kesakitan ketika menjalani pembedahan atau prosedur perubatan.

Terdapat tiga jenis anestesia:

  • Anestesia setempat: Digunakan untuk mengebaskan lokasi kecil yang spesifik pada anggota badan buat sementara waktu ketika pesakit masih sedar.
  • Anestesia sebahagian: Menghalang rasa sakit daripada anggota tubuh yang lebih besar, misalnya anestesia tulang belakang dan saraf.
  • Anestesia am: Menjadikan pesakit tidak sedarkan diri atau “tidur” buat sementara waktu ketika menjalani pembedahan atau sesuatu prosedur. Anestesia am boleh disuntik ke dalam urat atau dihidu oleh pesakit.

Seperti yang dijelaskan, anestesia dan vaksin COVID-19 beroperasi dalam dua sistem yang berbeza, maka anestesia tidak memberi sebarang kesan ke atas antibodi, sistem imun atau mencetus reaksi terhadap mana-mana vaksin. Justeru, pesakit boleh menjalani pembedahan menerusi anestesia setempat dengan selamat selepas memperoleh suntikan vaksin COVID-19.

Malah di ALTY, kami akan menggalakkan para pesakit kami untuk melengkapkan dos vaksinasi COVID-19 mereka sebelum menjalani pembedahan kerana risiko berlakunya jangkitan dapat diminimumkan bagi pihak pesakit serta kakitangan kesihatan di hospital kami.

Apa yang patut anda lakukan sebelum menjalani pembedahan

Jenis anestesia yang akan digunakan lazimnya ditentukan oleh pakar anestesiologi mengikut prosedur yang akan dijalankan. Mereka akan menentukan kaedah yang terbaik setelah membuat pemeriksaan kesihatan secara teliti di samping memastikan tubuh pesakit bersedia untuk menjalani sebarang prosedur.

Adalah lebih baik jika pesakit membuat lawatan prapembedahan dan merujuk doktor atau pakar anestesiologi masing-masing untuk menjadualkan atau merancang prosedur yang dipilih dengan sewajarnya. Ketika sesi ini, saya akan menggalakkan pesakit untuk menunjukkan rekod perubatan mereka, berbincang mengenai pengalaman lampau melibatkan anestesia, dan menjawab sebarang pertanyaan.

Sebagai pakar anestesiologi, saya akan menasihatkan pesakit saya untuk berehat selama beberapa hari selepas mereka mengambil suntikan vaksin COVID-19, jika ia merupakan kes elektif. Ini adalah kerana sesetengah pesakit mungkin akan mengalami kesan sampingan seperti demam, sakit otot atau loya selepas vaksinasi, yang lazimnya akan berlaku. Bagaimanapun, dalam situasi kecemasan yang misalnya melibatkan isu patah tulang atau kecederaan pada tulang belakang, kami akan menyegerakan prosedur tersebut.

Orang ramai cenderung untuk merungkai ketidakpastian dengan memperoleh informasi dari platform media sosial. Namun begitu, kita perlu memastikan maklumat yang diperoleh adalah daripada sumber yang boleh dipercayai. Anda boleh merujuk doktor anda secara bersemuka atau melalui perkhidmatan telekesihatan bagi mendapatkan nasihat dan maklumat mengenai perubatan.

Percayalah bahawa Malaysia mempunyai sistem penjagaan kesihatan yang teriktiraf di persada antarabangsa, malah kita turut menduduki tangga pertama di dunia sebagai pembekal perkhidmatan penjagaan kesihatan terbaik yang menyediakan perkhidmatan bertaraf dunia serta infrastruktur yang bersofistikasi tinggi, dianugerahkan oleh International Living pada tahun 2019. Justeru, orang ramai patut berasa lebih yakin terhadap kakitangan kesihatan di Malaysia kerana mereka bersedia untuk membekalkan pengalaman yang terbaik buat kita semua.

接种新冠疫苗会影响手术期吗?

ALTY骨科医院(ALTY Orthopedic Hospital)麻醉科及危重病部
Mohamad Fadhil Hadi医生

大马近来的新冠病毒(COVID-19)确诊率因为传染性强的Delta变种而上升。随著大马的新冠病毒确诊率不断增加,注射疫苗在我们迈向群体免疫及保护个人免受进一步感染扮演了重要角色。

虽然大马的国家免疫接种计划(NIP)起步较慢,但如今却已成全球接种速度最快的国家之一,7月间日均接种已达50万剂。

疫苗能保护人们避免染疫和散播病毒,及一旦感染不会转为重症。这对有潜在健康状况和容易感染新冠病毒的人来说特别重要。

加速接种计划所面对的障碍之一,就是“反疫苗者”散播的疫苗负面意见和错误信息。根据世界卫生组织(WHO),接种后的严重不良反应风险比感染新冠病毒造成的重症或甚至是死亡风险低很多。

原因如下:

  • 开发新冠疫苗所应用的科技和研究,已经存在好几十年。
  • 新冠疫苗历经所有规定的临床实验阶段丶大量的测试及侦测,证明疫苗安全且有效 。1

接种新冠疫苗后动手术会有风险吗?

我们也看到接种疫苗的相关迷思愈来愈多。最近在网络上流传的错误信息之一是打麻醉剂会有引起不良反应风险,特别是接种疫苗后的人。大马麻醉师协会(Malaysian Society of Anaesthesiologists)及麻醉科医学院(College of Anaesthesiologists2, 丶大马医药学会(Academy of Medicine of Malaysia)都驳斥了这点,截至目前,没有任何科学证据证明这种没有根据的错误信息。

就这点而言,对病患来说很重要的一点是要稍微了解麻醉背景。麻醉是使用一种被称为麻醉剂的药物,以防患者在手术或医疗过程中感到疼痛的治疗方法。

麻醉法主要分3类:

  • 局部麻醉:暂时麻痹身体的特定部位,病患完全清醒。
  • 区域麻醉:阻断身体大部位痛感,例如脊椎及神经阻断麻醉。
  • 全身麻醉:暂时让接受手术或疗程的病患完全失去知觉或“入睡”。全身麻醉可以透过注射进入静脉或吸入。

诚如前述,打麻醉剂与接种新冠疫苗是两个完全不同的系统,因此,打麻醉剂不会对我们的抗体和免疫系统产生任何影响,也不会对疫苗有任何反应。所以,接受手术的局部麻醉病患是安全的,即便是在接种了疫苗后。

事实上,我们ALTY鼓励病患在动手术前先完成疫苗接种,因为这将不只降低病患,同时也包括医疗保健人员的感染风险。

动手术前应该做些什么?

视手术类别而定,通常麻醉师决定用哪种麻醉法。他们将在彻底调查病患的生理状态后确定最佳行动,并确保病患在接受任何手术前身体状况许可。

手术前,病人最好请教医生或麻醉师,这样一来,他们就可以相应地安排或择定手术期。这期间,我鼓励病患把就医纪录都告诉医生丶谈谈他们之前使用麻醉剂的经验及澄清所有疑虑。

身为麻醉师,如果是选择性病例,我会建议刚接种新冠疫苗的病患先休息几天。这是因为某些病患在接完种后可能会有副作用,例如发烧丶肌肉痛或恶心,这是正常的现象。不过,如果是像骨折或脊椎受伤这种紧急病例,我们将马上动手术。

面对不确定性时,人们通常都会上网找资料。不过,很重要的一点是必须要到可信赖的资料源处找。如果觉得还是不确定或需要更多资讯,您可以请教医生,或用远距医疗服务找医生谈。

请放心,大马的医疗保健系统都受国际赞美,International Living在2019年时更因大马的医疗保健服务及发展快速的基建属世界级而将大马名列世界榜首。这将进一步提升病患对大马医疗保健专业人员的信心,因为他们会尽最大努力提供无缝医疗体验。

How to Get Here

ALTY Hospital
Ground Floor, Menara HSC
187 Jalan Ampang, 50450
Kuala Lumpur

  • www.altyortho.com
  • Operating Hours:
    Monday – Friday: 8.30am – 5.30pm
    Saturday: 8.30am – 1.00pm
ALTY malaysia