What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a painful and sometimes crippling disease that afflicts millions of people. It causes swelling and inflammation in the lining and cartilage in joints.
Each foot and ankle has a total of 33 joints. This fact, along with having to bear the body’s weight, make feet and ankles more susceptible to arthritis and its painful, often debilitating symptoms.
What Causes Arthritis?
Arthritis can be caused by a number of factors including:
- Genes which predispose a person to arthritis
- Injuries that cause joint damage
- Old age which causes joints to get worn down
- Infections in joints that are viral, bacterial, or fungal
- Excess Weight that puts extra wear and tear on joints
- Jobs requiring repetitive movements or lifting heavy objects
Types of Arthritis and Their Symptoms
Osteoarthritis. The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis causes a degradation in the cartilage on the ends of bones, causing them to rub against each other. Symptoms may include joint pain, tenderness and swelling, a grating sensation, bone spurs, joint deformity and decreased mobility.
Rheumatoid arthritis. This occurs when the body’s immune system attacks joint linings. Symptoms may include pain, stiffness, swelling, tenderness or warmth in the joints and nearby tissues, fever, loss of appetite and fatigue.
Gout. When there are high levels of uric acid in the blood, needle-like urate crystals can form in joints which may cause flare-ups of severe pain, inflammation and redness in the joints, and a limited range of motion.
Tips For Arthritic Foot Care
Practicing the following arthritic foot and ankle care at home can sometimes help lessen the severity of symptoms like pain and stiffness:
- Footwear. Wear shoes that are flexible, supportive, with proper arch support, low heels, cushioned soles, and plenty of room in the toe box.
- Custom Orthotics. Custom-made orthotic devices can provide much needed support exactly where you need it, while preventing friction and pressure on sore spots.
- Heat and Ice. Ice, creams, and heating pads can sometimes help increase circulation in the affected area, which may reduce symptoms and reduce inflammation.
- Medication. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may provide some relief, although they are not suitable for long-term use, nor are they a permanent solution to managing the disease.
Since arthritis is a complex disease, a podiatrist can provide professional techniques to ease your suffering and help you combat this painful and often debilitating disease.