Arthritis is a progressive and incurable condition that can, over time, impede patients’ mobility and inflict significant physical pain. While this disease has no known cure, proactive management can help adults mitigate their arthritis and relieve existing symptoms.
Arthritis and the Foot
Arthritis is a complex medical condition characterized by inflammation and swelling of joints across the body. An estimated 40 million Americans suffer from arthritis. While arthritic symptoms can affect almost any joint in the body, the feet are particularly vulnerable to this disease. This is because each foot contains 33 joints, each of which are responsible for bearing a tremendous amount of weight and pressure.
Although arthritis affects millions of American adults, it is a complex disease that scientists are still struggling to understand. Arthritis has a wide range of potential causes, which include, but are not limited to:
- Injuries, especially injuries that have been ignored or improperly treated.
- Bacterial and viral infections affecting the joints. Lyme disease, staph infections, and pneumonia can all cause arthritis or exacerbate existing symptoms.
- Prescription drug use, and even recreational drug use, can cause arthritic symptoms.
- Abnormal foot mechanics, such as flat feet and high arches, can stress the ligaments of the feet and exert additional, excess pressure on the joints.
While arthritis comes in several forms, osteoarthritis is the most commonly diagnosed in the foot. Osteoarthritis is sometimes called “wear-and-tear arthritis,” since it can be caused by old age and residual injuries.
For most people, osteoarthritic symptoms appear gradually but worsen over time, sometimes becoming painful and borderline unbearable.
Identifying Common Arthritic Symptoms
Arthritis can affect the structure and the function of the feet. Left untreated, arthritis can impede or impair mobility, making it difficult to walk, drive, and perform other routine tasks.
You should consider scheduling an appointment with your podiatrist if you experience any of the following arthritis-related foot symptoms:
- Swelling in one or more joints
- Redness or a “hot” sensation in or around a joint
- Inexplicably reduced range of motion
- Pain or tenderness in one or more joints
- Skin symptoms, such as rash and unusual growths
For most arthritis patients, early diagnosis and effective management is key to slowing the disease’s progression.
How Your Podiatrist Can Help You Work Through Arthritis-Related Pain
Your podiatrist could help you mitigate or relieve arthritis-related pain by recommending:
Arthritis is often exacerbated by lifestyle-related factors, including obesity and poor diet control. Your podiatrist might recommend alternative exercises, weight loss, or the fitting of custom orthotics than can improve balance and relieve pain.
A proper diet can reduce joint inflammation and keep your cartilage healthy. Your podiatrist may suggest certain foods, or provide advice on vitamin supplements that can mitigate arthritis-related symptoms.
Regular exercise, stretching, and physical therapy can strengthen the joint muscles in your feet.
Your podiatrist can prescribe medications, including NSAIDs and steroids, to reduce arthritic swelling and pain symptoms.
Podiatrists sometimes recommend injections of corticosteroids or hyaluronic acid, which fight inflammation and provide temporary pain relief.
Surgery is not always recommended for arthritic feet, but it can be an effective and long-term solution for damaged joints. A surgical intervention could mend injuries, or replace degraded cartilage and joints with artificial implants.
Are You Suffering With Arthritis In The Caldwell Or Meridian, Idaho Area?
If you're suffering with arthritis you owe it to yourself to speak with our experienced podiatrists as soon as possible. Please feel free to contact us online or call our office directly at 208.855.5955 to schedule your appointment. We service all areas surrounding Meridian, Idaho as well as all areas in the Caldwell, Idaho area. We look forward to helping you!