Arthritis is an inflammation and swelling of the cartilage and lining of the joints, generally accompanied by an increase in the fluid in the joints. Arthritis is a disabling and occasionally crippling disease afflicting almost 50 million Americans. In some forms, it appears to be hereditary. Although the prevalence of arthritis increases with age, all people from infancy to middle age are potential victims. People over 50 are the primary targets. Early diagnosis and proper medical care can limit or slow the damage or arthritis.
Symptoms of arthritis in the foot and ankle include:
- Early morning stiffness.
- Limitation in motion of joint.
- Recurring pain or tenderness in any joint.
- Redness or heat in a joint.
- Skin changes, including rashes and growths.
- Swelling in one or more joints.
Types of Arthritis
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It is frequently called degenerative joint disease or wear and tear arthritis. Normal aging usually brings on a breakdown in cartilage, and pain gets progressively more severe. Dull, throbbing nighttime pain is characteristic, and may be accompanied by muscle weakness or deterioration. Many of these symptoms can be relieved with rest and by addressing the inflammation. Overweight people are particularly susceptible to osteoarthritis. The additional weight contributes to the deterioration of cartilage and the development of bone spurs.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a major crippling disorder and the most serious form of arthritis. It is a complex, chronic auto-immune and inflammatory group of diseases, often affecting more than a dozen smaller joints during its course. In the foot, it frequently affects both ankles and toes.
Gouty Arthritis is caused by an increase in uric acid that settles in crystal form inside joints (most commonly the big toe joints!) It is a chronic condition that has acute ‘flare ups’ where the joint becomes red, hot, and swollen.
Arthritis of the foot and ankle can be treated in many ways, including:
- Physical therapy and exercise.
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Steroid (cortisone) injections into the affected joint
- Long term medication for both Rheumatoid and Gouty Arthritis
- Note: Please consult your physician before taking any medications.
- Icing the affected areas
- Applying topical medications such as BioFreeze to the affected areas
- Custom Orthotics or specially prescribed Healing Steps Shoes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why does arthritis seem to affect the feet so much?
It is because each foot has 33 joints that can be afflicted, and there is no way to avoid the pain of the tremendous weight-bearing load on the feet. Arthritic feet can result in loss of mobility and independence.