Foot And Ankle Arthritis Diagnosis
Your doctor will ask about your medical history and do tests that might include:
- Custom-fitted shoes
Surgery for foot and ankle arthritis
Some people need at least one kind of surgery to treat foot and ankle arthritis. Your doctor will suggest the treatment thatâs best for you. Surgeries for arthritis include:
- Fusion surgery. This is also called arthrodesis. It involves fusing bones together with rods, pins, screws, or plates. After they heal, the bones remain joined.
- Joint replacement surgery. This is mostly used in severe cases. Your doctor may call it arthroplasty. Theyâll take out damaged bone and cartilage and replace it with metal or plastic.
Early Signs Of Arthritis In Feet
Each foot contains 33 joints, 26 bones, and more than 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The joints are covered with articular cartilageconnective tissue that covers the surface of bones in a joint. Its primary function is to reduce friction during joint movement.
Arthritis can affect one or more of the joints of your foot. You may have symptoms in one foot or both feet. Arthritis will cause the joints to wear down and lose their cartilage. As a result, the bones will rub against each other, causing pain.
The soft tissues in joints might also become worn. Over time, the joint will not move and work as it should.
The earliest signs of arthritis in the feet are pain, swelling, and stiffness.
Arthritis symptoms in the feet can start suddenly and get worse quickly or develop gradually. Depending on the type of arthritis you have, one foot or both feet might be affected.
Over time, arthritis in the feet can worsen, leading to advanced symptoms. More advanced symptoms of foot arthritis include:
What Causes Arthritis In Feet
Arthritis may develop for a number of reasons and is associated with a variety of illnesses. The types of arthritis that most commonly affect the feet are:
Osteoarthritis, the most common type of foot arthritis, is a condition in which joint cartilage is damaged as a result of wear and tear that occurs over time.
It is also known as degenerative arthritis because it progresses slowly and the associated pain and stiffness generally worsen.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an irritation of the joint lining that results when ones own immune system attacks and destroys cartilage. This inflammatory disease usually affects multiple joints in the body.
Post-traumatic arthritis can develop after an injury to the foot, such as a broken bone, torn ligament, or moderate ankle sprain. It may not manifest until years after the injury, and may occur regardless of whether the joint injury was initially treated.
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Conservative Treatments For Arthritis
If you have arthritis in your feet or ankles, there are a variety of conservative treatments that may help you manage the condition, including the following:
- Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen
- Physical therapy
- Custom-made inserts for your shoes
- Wearing supportive shoes
- Doctor-administered injections of anti-inflammatory medication
- Using a cane or brace for assistance while walking
Risks Of Pain Relief Medications For Arthritis
There are also some risks associated with pain relief medications for arthritis. These medications can cause side effects such as stomach upset, dizziness, and drowsiness. In some cases, they can also interact with other medications. Its essential to speak with your podiatrist about the potential risks and benefits of pain relief medications.
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Circulation And Nerve Problems In The Lower Limb:
Some people with RA can experience decreased blood supply to feet and legs associated with atherosclerosis which can lead to cramp-like pains in your calf, thigh or buttock muscles when walking and other circulation related disorders such as Raynauds phenomena where the small blood vessels in the skin of the hands and feet shut down in response to changes in temperature leading to the following colour changes: toes/fingers go white, then blue and then red. These colour changes may also be accompanied by a tingling sensation in the affected areas. In rare cases people with RA can develop a skin rash, that may ulcerate, known as vasculitis an inflammation of the blood vessels. This is usually associated with long term disease, and the risks of it occurring are increased by smoking.Some people may experience problems with the nerve supply to their feet known as Peripheral Neuropathy . This may mean that they cannot feel pain or other sensations such as temperature and pressure, or they may experience pins and needles in certain parts of their feet as a result of a trapped nerve.The above are types of problems that are less common, and hopefully, you may never experience them, but you should be aware of the symptoms if they arise and inform your rheumatology Health Care Practitioner responsible for monitoring your rheumatoid arthritis.
Arthritis In The Toes
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Arthritis in the toes is often the result of wear and tear of the cartilage in the toe joints or inflammation of the toe joints. The big toe is most often affected by arthritis, but other toes can also be involved.
Common symptoms of arthritis of the toes may include pain that can take hours or days to resolve and swelling and inflammation in and around the toe joints. Both RA and PsA can cause significant pain and swelling. However, with PsA, the toes become so swollen that they can resemble sausages .
Additional symptoms of arthritis in the toes might include:
- Restricted range of motion due to swelling or cartilage damage
- Development of bone spurs, which can further restrict movement
- Difficulty and pain with bending the toes
- A toe that might bend permanently downward
- Pain that worsens with weight-bearing activityrunning, walking, climbing stairs, etc.
- A bump formation or sore
- Pitted, separated, thickened toenails
- Curling of toeshammertoe or claw toe
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Foot Problems Are Common In Rheumatoid Arthritis Heres What You Can Do About It
Thirty-three: thats how many joints are in just one foot. Each of your feet also contains 26 bones, plus a whole lot of muscles, tendons, and ligaments making them a prime target for rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, inflammatory disorder in which your immune system mistakenly attacks the lining of membrane that surrounds your joints. It tends to target smaller joints first, such as those in your hands and often, your feet. In fact, more than 90 percent of people with RA will develop pain, stiffness, swelling or other symptoms in the foot and ankle over the course of the disease, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. You can read here about common rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Can Orthotics Help Arthritis In My Feet
Custom foot orthotics are a great conservative treatment option for arthritis of the feet . While one should not expect orthotics to cure their arthritis , they can reasonably expect to receive pain relief while potentially slowing the arthritic process. Orthotics can effectively provide support and correct abnormal positioning that
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Make Sure The Shape Of Your Shoes Matches The Shape Of Your Feet
That may mean a roomy toe box to accommodate bunions or hammertoes, or an extra-wide shoe to reduce pressure on painful spots. Sturdy, supportive shoes are crucial to ease arthritis foot pain. Custom orthotics or a good over-the-counter shoe insert can provide even more comfort and extra support, adds Dr. Sachs. These inserts can help rebalance the foot, give your arch more support, and help cushion the ball of your foot. Talk to your doctor to determine the best footwear for you. Here are more tips for picking the right shoes when you have arthritis.
Home Remedies For Foot Arthritis Pain
When you have arthritis in your foot or ankle, one of the most important things is to wear comfortable shoes. Look for these details:
- Shoes shaped like your foot
- Shoes with good support
- Rubber soles for more cushioning
- Proper fit ask a salesperson for help
Exercise can help keep your feet strong, flexible, and pain-free. Moves that can be good for your feet include:
- Achilles stretch. Face a wall with your palms flat against it. Step one foot forward and one foot back. Lean forward, keeping your heels on the floor. Feel the pull in the Achilles tendon and calf of your rear leg. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat this exercise three times on each side.
- Big-toe stretch. Put a thick rubber band around your big toes. Use your muscles to pull them away from each other and toward your other toes. Hold this position for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
- Toe pull. Put a rubber band around the toes of each foot, and spread your toes. Hold this position for 5 seconds, and repeat the exercise 10 times.
- Toe curl. Pick up marbles with your toes.
Other home remedies for arthritis are:
- Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen. These can have side effects like stomach irritation, so check with your doctor before taking them.
- Creams with menthol or capsaicin, which may stop your nerves from sending pain signals
- Putting heat or cold on the area
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Benefits Of Pain Relief Medications For Arthritis
There are many different benefits of pain relief medications for arthritis. Pain relief medications can help to reduce pain and inflammation in the joints. They can also help to improve the range of motion and increase mobility. In some cases, pain relief medications can also help prevent further damage to the joints.
Arthritis Risks And Complications That May Develop
In most cases, arthritis cannot be cured and the disease will continue to progress. Even with the best of treatment, arthritis of the foot and ankle may continue to cause you pain or require you to limit your activities.
Severe disability from arthritis is rare, however, and usually seen in persons with rheumatoid arthritis.
Frequent use of anti-inflammatory medications is known to cause gastrointestinal upset. People with rheumatoid arthritis are at higher risk for complications, such as peripheral neuropathy, infection, and skin or muscle problems.
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Foot And Ankle Arthritis
Foot and ankle arthritis are general terms for localized joint inflammation. Arthritis of all types involves inflammation in and around joints, which often leads to pain, stiffness, and swelling. When smooth, cushioning cartilage in joints is lost, bones begin to wear against each other. Arthritis results from this progressive joint deterioration. Previous injury, like an ankle fracture, is one of the most common causes of foot and ankle arthritis because damaged cartilage can lead to accelerated inflammation.
There are 28 bones and more than 30 joints in each foot. This means foot and ankle arthritis may feel especially acute, even though the ankle is affected less often than other joints. There are a few common foot and ankle joints especially prone to arthritis development, including where the ankle and shinbone meet, the joint of the big toe and foot bone, and the three joints of the foot that involve the heel bone, the inner mid-foot bone, and the outer mid-foot bone.
There are several different types of foot and ankle arthritis. The important differences between these conditions are determined by the underlying cause and the speed with which the arthritis develops. See below for detailed explanations of many common forms of foot and ankle arthritis.
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What Is Osteoarthritis Of The Foot And Ankle
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It mostly affects the hands, knees, hips and spine, but it can happen in any joint in the body, including the feet and ankles.
A joint is a part of the body where two or more bones meet. Your ankle joint is where the tibia and fibula bones in your leg join up with your foot. There are 33 joints in the foot, but the big toe is the one that is most commonly affected by osteoarthritis.
The joints in your body go through a normal cycle of damage and repair during your lifetime. But sometimes the process your body goes through to repair joints can change their shape or structure. When these changes happen in one or more of your joints, its called osteoarthritis.
The ends of our bones are covered in a tough but slippery surface, known as cartilage. This allows the bones to move against each other. The bones are held in place by ligaments. Tendons attached to our muscles and bones help us to move around.
Osteoarthritis causes damage to the cartilage, which results in pain and swelling, and can sometimes mean the bones rub against each other as we move. Osteoarthritis doesnt just affect the cartilage, but can also cause damage to the bones, ligaments, tendons and lining of affected joints.
Osteoarthritis can affect anyone at any age, but its most common in people over 45. It affects more women than men. The risk of developing osteoarthritis is commonly linked to:
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Arthritis In The Hindfoot
Arthritis in the hindfoot affects the three joints below the ankle and above the heel: the subtalar joint, the talonavicular joint, and the calcaneocuboid joint. Together, these joints allow the foot to have side-to-side movement, as well as other motions, and aid in bearing the weight of the body. Arthritis in these joints can cause pain and swelling in the feet and ankles.
Use Orthotic Devices For Stability And Balance
Canes, braces, shoe inserts your specific problem will determine what you need, Frisch says. Some people with arthritis in their feet find relief simply by taping their toes together. For others, a cane helps with stability. Still others find foot pain relief from shoe inserts because they can correct misalignments and distribute weight more evenly over the bottoms of your feet. You can buy shoe inserts over the counter or have them custom-made.
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Coping With Arthritic Feet
- Steroid medications to be injected into the affected joints
- Custom-made shoes, shoe inserts, or arch supports to support your ankles and feet
- Physical therapy that includes foot exercises and stretches
Your doctor might recommend surgery if other treatments dont work to manage foot and ankle arthritis. Surgical options might include:
- Arthrodesis: Also called fusion surgery, this involves fusing bones together with rods, pins, screws, or plates. When bones heal, the bones will stay joined.
- Joint replacement surgery: Also called arthroplasty, this surgery is used only in severe cases. The surgeon will take out damaged bones and cartilage and replace them with metal and plastic.
Home remedies you can try to help you cope with arthritic feet include:
- Creams containing capsaicin or menthol: These creams may stop the nerves from sending out pain signals.
- Hot or cold packs in the affected areas
- Gentle exercises, including yoga and tai chi
Making changes to your lifestyle can also help you to feel better and keep arthritis in your feet from getting worse. Lifestyle changes might include choosing low-impact exercises like swimming rather than high-impact ones , maintaining a healthy weight to keep stress off joints, and reducing or avoiding activities that trigger symptoms in the feet and ankles.
Looking After Your Feet
Its important to take care of your feet if you have osteoarthritis in your feet or ankles. A good footcare plan can help reduce the likelihood of you developing other problems that could make your pain worse, such as corns, calluses, or ingrown toenails.
There are a number of things you can do yourself, including:
- washing your feet every day in warm, soapy water dont soak your feet unless you have problems with hard skin or ingrown toenails
- drying your feet well, including in between your toes
- moisturising your feet all over, except for between your toes
- cutting your toenails regularly, cutting straight across the nail doing it at an angle or down the sides could lead to ingrown toenails.
If you have corns or calluses, try:
- soaking your feet in warm water to soften the skin
- using a pumice stone or foot file to remove hard skin
- moisturising your feet to keep the skin soft.
Its a good idea to get your feet checked regularly by your GP or a podiatrist. This is important if you have any problems with your feet that dont get better after a few weeks.
Podiatrists , also known as chiropodists, are specialists in treating foot problems. You can either be referred to an NHS podiatrist by your GP or, in some areas, you can refer yourself.
You could also pay to see one privately. Either way, you should make sure theyre registered with the Health and Care Professionals Council .
When getting new shoes, consider the following tips:
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How Rheumatoid Arthritis Affects The Feet
Joints are covered with a lining called synovium. Its job is to lubricate the joint so it moves more easily. RA causes an overactivity in this lining. The synovium becomes inflamed, thickens, and produces an excess of joint fluid. That extra fluid along with the inflammatory chemicals released by the immune system causes swelling, damages cartilage and softens the bone within the joint. A systemic disease, RA also affects ligaments and surrounding soft tissue, says Brett Sachs, DPM, foot and ankle surgeon in Colorado. When that happens, the joints start to weaken and thats when the deformities can occur, explains Dr. Sachs, who is also a fellow member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. Rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect the joints in your feet more quickly in part because they are smaller, says Dr. Sachs. Research shows in about 20 percent of RA patients, foot and ankle symptoms are the first signs of the disease.