At the end of a long day on your feet, it is natural to feel fatigue or minor aches and pains here and there. Each foot has 28 bones and over 30 joints that work ceaselessly to support your body and help you carry out every task throughout the day. However, an aching or stiffness deep in the joints of your foot or ankle could be due to more than just a long day on your feet or aging. It is possible you have arthritis, and this is a problem that you want to address quickly and with the right intervention.
Behind the Inflammation
Simply stated, arthritis refers to inflammation of the cartilage and bones in a joint. It is an umbrella term under which you will find over 100 different diseases. For the most part though, this condition involves a progressive joint deterioration. Cartilage is the cushioning agent between your joints and over time it can wear down, leaving the bones in a joint to rub against each other. This process can cause inflammation, pain, stiffness and limited mobility.
Gout and post-traumatic forms of this condition are fairly common in the foot and ankle, but most often we see osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis as most prevalent types. Osteoarthritis is considered the “wear and tear” form, as joints deteriorate over a period time. It can be triggered by an injury, but it is usually part of the aging process, or it can develop being overweight. As the bones start to grind together, you may feel dull, aching pain and possible muscle weakness. In more severe cases it can be difficult to walk and accomplish daily activities. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most serious form. It can be crippling as your own immune system attacks the tissues in your body. The true cause is unknown, but with this form of the disease, the lining that lubricates your joints becomes inflamed. Over time the joint is damaged as well as the surrounding ligaments and tissues. This can result in deformity of the hands and feet, and unfortunately it often affects the same joints on both sides of the body.
Managing the Pain
For most patients arthritis is a chronic problem, which may come and go or get better or worse depending on what form you have. The good news is that we have several noninvasive treatment methods to relieve your pain, help keep your joints flexible, and prevent the damage from worsening. We will first thoroughly examine your feet to diagnose the type and severity of the joint damage. Then, we will develop a treatment plan suitable for your symptoms and lifestyle.
To relieve pressure on your bones and joints, we may use custom orthotics that offer excellent support and cushioning for your feet. Some patients find relief with a pair of stiff-soled shoes that prevent excess movement of the painful joints. We can also add in anti-inflammatory medication to help with swelling and pain. With more severe symptoms, a brace or cane may be necessary to remove weight that is put on the foot, in addition to steroid injections that can help reduce inflammation.
If you are living with pain from arthritis, it is time to do something about it. We have effective ways to reduce your discomfort and improve your mobility. Don’t wait—without intervention, your joint damage can worsen and not only make it more difficult to treat but also continue to impact your quality of life. Contact Capital District Podiatry for an appointment or more information. You can reach us at (518) 273-0053 or use the contact page on our website.