What is arthritis?
The meaning of arthritis is literally in its name. In the Greek, arthro- means “joint“ and –itis means “inflammation.” Listed as the number one disability reason in the United States, the impact of this disease is wide reaching, and includes over 100 specific diseases that affect the joints. Arthritis worsens over time as the padding in the joints is eroded.
Do you have joint pain in your ankles or toes?
With over 30 joints, the foot and ankle can be greatly impacted by this debilitating disease. Typically the affected joints include the meeting places of: the foot and the big toe, the shin and ankle, and joints that consist of the heel and mid-foot bones. In general, arthritic joints become painful, stiff, swollen, and there is less mobility.
Gout is an arthritic condition caused by high levels of uric acid in the body and often occurs in the big toe. When the extra acid collects in tissue and joints, a gout attack can occur and be extremely painful.
Rheumatoid arthritis is not limited to certain joints. Its impact is widespread, because the immune system is actually waging war on the joints of the entire body, including the feet and ankles.
Is age causing joint pain in your foot?
Osteoarthritis is degenerative, and occurs as we age. The cartilage that caps the ends of the bones becomes worn over time, and the result is discomfort. This type of arthritis primarily affects the body joints that we use often for movement.
Have you recently injured your foot, but now have joint pain?
Post-traumatic arthritis falls into the same category, because it occurs after the injury of a particular joint. For instance, if you injure your ankle, you may later experience the painful inflammation and swelling of the joint caused by this condition.
What causes arthritis?
Factors that cause arthritis include:
- Age: Older people have experienced more “wear and tear” of the joints, so they are more susceptible to arthritis.
- Weight: Obesity also plays a role, because of the additional stress placed on the body, especially on the feet and ankles, which are its foundation.
- Family History
- Bone trauma: Dislocated bones and fractures that affect the joint provide the ideal environment for arthritis.
- Genes: Family history does seem to play a role. Rheumatoid arthritis is not passed down, but affected people seem to have a common gene which responds to a signal by an infection or something else in the environment.
What can my doctor do to help?
Your doctor will first assess your foot and ankle pain to determine if arthritis is the cause. After taking your family history, an x-ray or other imaging tests may be ordered. Your podiatrist will also look at the way that you are walking, or your gait, to see where you are placing the weight of your body. The way that you walk can put wear and tear on the joints of your foot.
Once a diagnosis has been made there are several options depending on the severity of your situation. Lifestyle changes will almost certainly be recommended, because diet and exercise are vital to maintaining a healthy weight which in turn lessens the stress on the foot and ankle joints. Other non-surgical options include orthotics, physical therapy, and medications such as steroid injections and anti-inflammatory pain relief.
Surgical intervention is also available, and ranges from cleaning up the joint and surrounding area to actually replacing the joint, which is typically used in the hips and knees, but not in the feet. Another procedure, called Joint Fusion, is sometimes used in the ankle to “fuse” the ends of the bone.
Have you been suffering with arthritis pain? Do you feel like your life is at a standstill? Dr. Lawrence Kales and his staff look forward to getting you back on your feet. Contact us online, or at one of our offices in Hudson, FL or Spring Hill, FL.
By calling our Bayonet Point Foot Health Center at (727)868-2128, our Spring Hill Podiatry Center at (352)683-5799 or requesting an appointment online, you can end your pain. So do not hesitate, book your appointment today!