When talking about foot arthritis pain, it’s important to mention that arthritis is a general term that refers to more than 100 different illnesses. However, these illnesses all seem to have one thing in common, inflammation in and around the joints and the nearby soft tissue. With many kinds of arthritis, the smooth cartilage between your joints wears down over time, causing the bones on either side of the joint to meet and wear against each other. This, coupled with inflammation, can cause severe pain.
Before we get to how we must address the what. First, we must explain the different types of foot arthritis to explain what you can do for pain relief.
Different Types of Foot Arthritis
Osteoarthritis, also known as wear-and-tear- arthritis, is the most common form of arthritis in older populations. Doctors refer to it as a degenerative joint disease, as it causes changes over many years. Foot and ankle joints are the most common locations for individuals to develop osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in that an individual’s immune system attacks their joints. This usually happens to the same joint on both sides of the body.
Gout is the buildup of uric acid in the body caused by dietary choices. It is most common to experience gout in the big toe, as it is the farthest away from the heart.
Psoriatic arthritis can happen in one or more joints. This includes the ankle and the ends of your toes. It may also cause your foot to swell.
Post-traumatic arthritis occurs after a severe injury such as joint dislocation or bone fracture. In cases of post-traumatic arthritis, an individual who suffers may not experience problems until years after the initial injury.
Symptoms of Foot Arthritis
There are many different types of symptoms that accompany foot arthritis. Here are some of the most common:
- Tenderness when you touch the joint
- Pain when you move the joint
- Trouble moving, walking, or putting weight on the affected limb
- Joint stiffness, warmth, or swelling
- More pain and swelling after resting (e.g., sitting and sleeping)
Foot Arthritis Treatment
The treatment of foot arthritis is as wide-ranging as the condition is. There are many different steps you can take to help reduce pain and protect your joints. Here are few things you can do to fight back against your arthritis.
Steroid injections are great for addressing pain. However, it’s important to remember that they only mask the symptom, they don’t cure the underlying condition. You also have to be careful how often you use them. Unfortunately, too much of a good thing, and you risk weakening bones, ligaments, and tendons in the affected area.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen and aspirin, are great for controlling swelling. These types of drugs help block a group of chemicals called prostaglandins. These chemicals play a role in pain and inflammation. While these can be helpful, make sure to speak with your doctor before long or short-term use, as the side effects of the medicines include cardiovascular and GI issues. Your doctor may opt for a topical anti-inflammatory instead, which will carry fewer sides effects.
Shoe inserts that support your foot and ankle also referred to as orthotics, are great ways to help heal arthritis and manage pain. Orthotics are excellent because they’re custom-made. So, they can be customized to change the mechanics of an individual’s foot. They can also be more accommodating to someone’s feet by providing more cushioning.
Custom-Fitted Shoes or a More High-End Shoe
Custom-fitted shoes or a more high-end shoe that offers enough support and toe room is key for those who suffer from arthritis. You’ll want to avoid going barefoot as much as possible, so it’s important that the shoe you pick is comfortable for long periods of time. Avoid heels, flats, or any other shoes with a thin sole. It’s also important to remember to replace your shoes regularly. High-end athletic shoes with soft orthotic soles have a set number of miles built into them. Wear them past that number and the shoe will fail to give you the proper support that your foot needs.
Physical therapy is critical in easing pain and preventing damage done by arthritis. There are many different methods that help with symptoms, such as massage, whirlpool, cold packs, ultrasound, and lasers. After the inflammation has been reduced, the physical therapist can then create a program to help their patient build strength, gain more flexibility in the joint, and restore balance, all to reduce the amount of stress put on the affected joint.
As mentioned above, it’s important to reduce the amount of stress put on the affected joint. One way you can do this is to lose weight. Even if it’s five to ten pounds, that’s enough to help relieve stress from your joints. You can also wear toe caps. To caps are small sleeves made of gel or compression fabric. While they won’t cure arthritis, they can help to relieve pressure and reduce pain during flare-ups.
Some people have no choice but to get surgery to help relieve the pain they feel from their arthritis. While surgery is generally reserved for severe cases, the following procedures are considered quite common:
- Fusion Surgery- fusing the bones that comprise a joint with rods, pins, screws, or plates. After the surgery site heals, the bones remained joined
- Joint Replacement Surgery-also known as an arthroplasty; a doctor will take out the damaged bone and cartilage and replace it with metal or plastic.
Make an Appointment with The Foot & Ankle Center
We help heal everything. From the orthotics to the pain management, trust The Foot & Ankle Center to fix your feet. For more information or to book an appointment, click here.