What is Arthritis of the Foot and Ankle?
Arthritis is a broad term for a number of conditions that destroy the workings of a normal joint. Arthritis causes inflammation in an around joints and can occur at any age. It is not curable, but treatments allows patients to manage pain, stay active, and live fulfilling lives, often without surgery.
There are three types of arthritis that may affect your foot and ankle.
Osteoarthritis is a common condition that affects many people after they reach middle age.
As patients age the smooth, gliding surface covering the ends of bones (cartilage) becomes worn and frayed causing swelling, inflammation and pain in the joints. Osteoarthritis progresses slowly with the pain and stiffness it causes worsening over time.
Rheumatoid arthritis an inflammatory disease where the persons own immune system attacks and destroys cartilage.
Post-traumatic arthritis is caused by the wearing out of a joint that has had some kind of physical injury. This type of arthritis is similar to osteoarthritis as it may develop years after a fracture, severe sprain, or ligament injury.
Many factors increase your risk for developing osteoarthritis, as the ability of cartilage to heal itself decreases as we age. As a result older people are more likely to develop the disease. Other risk factors include family history of the disease and obesity
The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is still unknown. The body develops of Rheumatoid arthritis through a trigger such as an infection or environmental factor, which activates the genes. This trigger causes the immune system begins to produce substances that attack the joint.
Fractures that particularly damage the joint surface and dislocations are the most common injuries that lead to Post-Traumatic Arthritis. Even if an injured joint is properly taken care of it ma still be at risk of become arthritic.
- Tenderness ,pain or swelling around joints
- Stiffness or reduced motion in the forefoot, hind foot and big toe during gait
- Joint redness and warmth
- Walking difficulty is experienced by around 75% of patients with established arthritis
- Slower walking speed due to fewer steps per minute due to feeling unstable
- Decline in muscle mass and muscular strength
- Gait Analysis to determine how the bones in the leg and foot line up with walking.
- Muscle strength testing of the ankles and feet
- Range of motion can be measured to identify which joints are affected the most
- Ordering x-rays to view changes in the spacing between bones or in the shape of the bones themselves.
Depending on the type, location, and severity of the arthritis, there are many types of treatment available.
Nonsurgical treatment options include:
- Anti-inflammatory and pain relieving medications reduce swelling
- Orthotic shoe inserts , such as pads or arch supports to prevent the deformities getting worse
- Good supportive cushioned footwear that are wide enough to accommodate any deformities
- Custom-made shoes for those who no longer can wear streamline shoes
- A brace or a cane to assist in walking
- Physical therapy and exercises to strengthen the muscles around the foot and ankle
- Weight control or nutritional supplements