x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

'I never imagined I'd be in such a state at 35', says UAE arthritis sufferer

Architect finds that sentient lifestyle and extra weight are a bad combination for back health.

Bhatki More at her home in Dubai. She practises yoga as a way of controlling her back. Lee Hoagland / The National
Bhatki More at her home in Dubai. She practises yoga as a way of controlling her back. Lee Hoagland / The National

DUBAI // Bhakti More never expected to have arthritis at 35, but long hours at work coupled with weight gain led to the condition.

Working as an architect in Dubai meant Mrs More spent long hours in front of a computer screen.

The weight she gained after the birth of her daughter in 2007 only exacerbated her discomfort, increasing the load on her back.

She woke one morning with horrible stiffness in her lower back.

"I couldn't move and it would take me hours just to get out of bed," she said. "It was awful. I couldn't walk, sit or stand. I didn't know what to do with myself."

Mrs More received a diagnosis of spondylitis, a form of arthritis that primarily affects the spine. The muscles and ligaments surrounding the vertebrae weaken, resulting in inflammation.

"My daughter was 2 at the time and it was impossible to complete basic errands," she said. "I was scared. I never would have imagined that I would be in such a state at that age, but unfortunately I didn't take care of myself."

Doctors prescribed a one-year course of medication for Mrs More, now 39. Once the pain eased, about three months into her treatment, she began a series of yoga classes with a naturopathic doctor.

Coupled with a healthy diet, she was able to shed some of the excess weight, dropping from 72 kilograms to 65kg.

Now a professor of architecture at Manipal University, Mrs More said the lifestyle change had improved her back condition.

She attends yoga sessions at least three times a week and has not suffered any stiffness or pain since taking up the practice.

Doctors have advised her to do routine exercises at the office, including stretches and mediating long periods of sitting with periodic walks.

"Sadly what often happens is that we get so engrossed with work that we allow our health to take the back seat," Mrs More said. "But the truth is your health will affect all aspects of your life. You can't be productive at work, socialise or enjoy your time at home with your family.

"You need to treat your health first and everything else will follow."