Do You Suffer From Arthritis of the Foot?

Arthritis is a common condition that can affect any joint. It leads to painful inflammation that limits mobility. If your ankle or foot has recently bothered you, and you cannot determine a cause, you may have arthritis of the foot. If you want to learn more about this painful condition, check out these three commonly asked questions.

What Causes Arthritis?

The causes of arthritis depend on the type of arthritis you have. For example, if you have gout, it is likely from a diet with lots of uric acid. The acid builds up in the big toe joint, causing arthritis flair-ups. If you have osteoarthritis, the cause may be poor bone health from not exercising, not eating calcium, or smoking.

On the other hand, rheumatoid arthritis may not be preventable because it is from an autoimmune disorder, which causes the body to attack some joints (usually in the toes or fingers). An untreated past injury can also heal improperly, leading to arthritis.

What Are the Symptoms of Arthritis?

If you have arthritis in the foot, moving your foot will be painful and difficult. You will likely have limited mobility. In severe cases, you may not even be able to put weight on the foot, making it nearly impossible to live your life. The joints may also feel warm, look red, or start to swell. If you have gout, the symptoms will likely only appear after you have eaten too many foods with uric acid.

Arthritis can also change the appearance of your joints, making them look bigger. In severe cases (more common with rheumatoid arthritis), your toes may actually start to rotate away from the foot or change shape. Finally, in some cases, the joint may lock. This simply means the joint cannot bend at all, but you can usually fix the problem by trying to use the joint.

How Is Arthritis Treated?

No cure for arthritis exists, but treatments can help reduce the symptoms. In mild cases, you can usually fight the pain by losing weight, using the joint, and strengthening muscles around the joint. Strengthening the muscles helps take stress off the joint during movement. Over-the-counter pain medications may be necessary to fight flare-ups.

Custom shoes, arch supports, and inserts can also help keep the foot in a comfortable position and keep the ankle steady. In more severe cases, a cane or brace may be good to further offer stability and support.

If you have gout, the best treatment is to avoid foods with high levels of uric acid, such as red meats and alcohol. If your arthritis is particularly painful, the doctor may suggest steroid injections at the site. Overall, however, make sure you keep active. Using the affected joints can be painful, but the more you move, the easier it gets. Stick to low-impact exercise like swimming to keep stress off the joint.

If you have tried everything to manage your arthritis, but you still are in constant pain and have limited mobility, the doctor may suggest surgery to clean up the joint.

Unfortunately, arthritis is a progressive disease. However, with proper work-up and management, it is possible to delay or even stop the progression altogether.

If you would like to know more about arthritis of the foot or other foot pain, contact our foot and ankle clinic. We are always happy to answer your questions and concerns about this condition and many others.