Medical Treatment For Foot & Ankle Arthritis
If you are diagnosed with arthritis in the foot or ankle, NYU Langone doctors often recommend a combination of treatments to lessen discomfort and prevent further joint damage. These may include modifying activities that put stress on the affected joints, using orthotic inserts and braces, taking medication, or receiving corticosteroid injections that provide longer-term pain relief. People diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis may require medications to control the bodys immune response, in addition to some of the following therapies.
Role Of The Rheumatologist
After consulting with your primary care doctor, it may be that your diagnosis is not clear-cut. Or you may seem to have a complicated case. At that point, it may be wise to see a rheumatologist.
A rheumatologist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatic diseases, a group of disorders characterized by chronic, often intermittent pain affecting the joints or connective tissues.
Rheumatologists have additional education and training, making them a better choice for complicated cases. As the patient, you may want to a rheumatologist if:
- Your pain is unrelenting.
- Your symptoms are persistent or worsening despite treatment.
- Your doctor is unable to diagnose the underlying cause.
- Your symptoms are flaring more frequently or more severely.
- You are less able to handle tasks you use to be able to manage.
- You are becoming increasingly homebound.
- Your condition is lowering your quality of life.
A rheumatologist can also consult on a limited basis to offer a second opinion about whether your treatment plan is appropriate and optimal for your condition. Your primary care doctor won’t resent that you want a second opinion they will more than likely encourage it.
Once you have your second opinion, you can return to your primary doctor for regular follow-up appointments.
A rheumatologist does not perform surgery. If surgery is indicated, an orthopedic surgeon would be your best option.
Orthotic Inserts And Braces
Some people find that wearing an orthotic insert, which fits into the shoe, or a foot or ankle brace helps to ease arthritis symptoms. By limiting the movement of the foot or ankle joint, an insert or brace may relieve pain and stiffness, making it more comfortable to walk.
Orthotic inserts are available in different sizes and levels of stiffness. They can be placed in the shoe to support different parts of the feet, depending on the location of your arthritis pain. Orthotic inserts help reduce the amount of stress put on arthritic areas of the foot by redistributing the weight of the body to other parts of the foot, providing pain relief.
Braces also come in different sizes and levels of support. Some are flexible and worn in addition to regular shoes, and others resemble a cast that covers part of the foot and ankle. NYU Langone doctors can advise you on the type of brace that best suits your lifestyle and the severity of your symptoms. If youre planning to spend the day in an environment that requires very little walking, for instance, a light brace may be all you need. If your job requires you to be on your feet all day, a brace with more support might be a better choice.
Some of the time, inserts and braces available at drugstores work well. If your doctor suggests that a brace or orthotic insert designed to fit the shape of your foot may be more effective, NYU Langone specialists can customize a brace or orthotic insert to ensure it provides the support you need.
You May Like: Does Vicks Vapor Rub Help With Arthritis
Other Possible Causes Of Hand Pain
Hand pain is also a sign of Dupuytrens contracture, a condition in which the tissue of the palm and fingers becomes thickened and tight, causing the fingers to curl inward. Its not clear why Dupuytrens contracture develops, though those who smoke, drink a lot of alcohol, and have seizures or diabetes are more vulnerable to developing it.
Your doctor will also consider whether your hand pain could be due to carpal tunnel syndrome, says Dr. Byram. RA can be a cause of carpal tunnel syndrome, so if we see someone who has carpal tunnel, well want to make sure they dont have RA. Carpal tunnel is a condition that occurs when one of the major nerves to the hand the median nerve is squeezed or compressed as it travels through the wrist, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Surgery For Spinal Arthritis
Surgery may be recommended for spinal arthritis if other treatments donât sufficiently relieve pain. The goals of the surgery may include:
Stabilizing the spine by fusing several segments together in a procedure called spinal fusion
These surgeries can be performed as open procedures or with a minimally invasive approach. There are pros and cons to each method. The surgeon will review and discuss the options before the operation.
Read Also: Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Cause Eye Problems
Other Treatment Options If You Struggle With Finding A Rheumatologist
There has been a shortage of rheumatologists in America as well as many other developed countries for the last decade, and its likely to get worse before it gets better, says Vinicius Domingues, MD, a rheumatologist in Daytona Beach, Florida, and medical advisor to CreakyJoints, an advocacy, education, and support group for people living with arthritis and rheumatic disease. But that doesnt mean that you cant get good treatment from your primary care physician if thats what your situation requires. The advancement in the medical communitys understanding about the causes and the treatments of arthritic conditions, as well as the evolution of telemedicine, has allowed primary care physicians to diagnose and treat most common forms of arthritis, says Ginsberg.
Dr. Domingues also thinks there could be a positive future for telehealth, which is when patients receive health-related services and information via electronic information and telecommunication technologies.
It will never replace an in-person doctor, but it may be an option for the future. And the American College of Rheumatology has good support groups. CreakyJoints also has forums and resources that should be explored, says Domingues.
Do You Need To See An Orthopedic Physician Or A Rheumatologist
Patients should use the guidelines below to help determine if they should choose an orthopedic physician or rheumatologist for their arthritis and joint pain.
Patients might need an orthopedic physician if they have:
- Joint or musculoskeletal pain that began after an injury
- Gradually progressive hip or knee pain that is worse with weight bearing
- Joint pain that is severe and interfering with function
- Moderate or advanced arthritis of the knee or hip
- Previous unsuccessful treatment for joint pain
- Been told by their doctor they might need a joint replacement
Patients might need a rheumatologist if they have:
- Pain involving many joints
- New joint pain not associated with any injury
- Joint or musculoskeletal pain associated with morning stiffness, fever, fatigue, rash or chest pain
- Joint pain that followed a tick bite
- Joint pain associated with back pain
- Joint pain and psoriasis
- Muscular pain with or without any other symptoms
- New headaches or muscle aches and are over the age of 50
- Back pain with or without pain in the legs
- Unexplained, ongoing symptoms such as fever, sweats or weight loss
A patients’ medical needs are important and unique, that is why UMass Memorial Medical Center offers specialty trained physicians that have devoted their education and career to treating specific medical conditions to serve you.
Also Check: How To Control Arthritis Pain Without Medication
Specialists Who Treat Arthritis:
- Rheumatologist physicians who diagnose , treat and medically manage patients who suffer from arthritis and other rheumatic diseases.
- Orthopedic Surgeon physicians who manage special problems of the musculoskeletal system. Orthopedic surgeons diagnosis your injury or disorder, provide treatment with medication, exercise, surgery or other treatment plans, encourage rehabilitation by recommending exercises or physical therapy to restore movement, strength and function. Orthopedic surgeons prepare patients for surgery as advanced stages of arthritis require surgical correction.
- Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation is a medical specialty concerned with diagnosis, evaluation, and management of persons of all ages with physical and/or cognitive impairment and disability.
- Pain Medicine the field of medicine that is concerned with the prevention of pain, and the evaluation, treatment, and rehabilitation of persons in pain.
- Physical Therapist – health care professionals who can help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility through developing fitness and wellness programs for healthier and more active lifestyles.
Spinal Arthritis Causes And Risk Factors
The causes of arthritis in the back or neck vary depending on the type of arthritis you have. Besides normal wear and tear and autoimmune triggers, in many cases the exact cause remains unknown. Genetic components have been identified in connection with some forms of spinal arthritis, meaning that it may be hereditary.
Other spinal arthritis risk factors include:
Presence of certain conditions such as diabetes, gout, psoriasis, tuberculosis, irritable bowel syndrome and Lyme disease
Don’t Miss: Does Cold Weather Affect Psoriatic Arthritis
Why Go To A Hand Specialist For Arthritis
Painful and swollen hands are the first signs of arthritis. Arthritis can affect any part of your body, even the joints in your hands. It can make simple tasks like holding up a glass or mug, brushing your teeth, or turning a doorknob difficult.
While there is no cure for arthritis, you can manage symptoms and slow down the degeneration of your joints. Arthritis sufferers who get treatment and guidance from orthopedic doctors can live normal lives despite their condition.
An orthopedic hand specialist is trained and knowledgeable in various treatments that can ease the symptoms of arthritis in the hands and wrists. A hand specialist who is also a hand surgeon can perform surgical procedures that can help repair damaged joints and tendons in the hand due to arthritis.
How To Choose A Rheumatologist
If you have aches and pains in your joints and bones its time to consider consulting a rheumatologist. Choosing a rheumatologist may end up being one of the most important health decisions you will make. You will rely on their expertise and knowledge and you will work closely with them to identify any issues and customize a treatment program. So how do you choose the right doctor for you?
Some background on Rheumatologists.
Rheumatologist are specialists who treat arthritis including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. They specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune diseases that involve pain. In addition, they are experts in treating other diseases such as lupus, vasculitis, gout, Sjogrens Syndrome and fibromyalgia.
Do your research.
Make a list of rheumatologists in your area and be sure to ask your family doctor for a referral. Ensure they are all included under your insurance and they are conveniently located so you can get there with ease. Narrow down your list by researching the doctors credentials, experience and background.
What to look for.
What to avoid.
Recommended Reading: Can Psoriasis Lead To Psoriatic Arthritis
What Are Some Red Flags To Watch Out For When Picking A Rheumatologist
Be wary of someone who doesnt look you in the eye eye contact is crucial, Ginsberg believes.
If the doctors head is buried in your chart or electronic health record during your appointment, thats a red flag. You want someone who relates to you, not your chart or lab results, he says.
Another major red flag is when doctors, nurses, or other members of the office staff dont respond to your phone calls.
When To See Your Doctor About Arthritis Pain
Home treatment hasnât helped. Minor aches and pains usually get better with ice or heat therapy or over-the-counter pain relievers. But if your symptoms donât improve after about a week, it may be something more serious.
You have pain multiple joints.Rheumatoid arthritis, for example, can make several joints hurt. Quick treatment is important to prevent long-term damage.
Your joints hurt a lot. Your doctor should check out any severe pain so they can diagnose and treat it.
Pain doesnât go away after rest. This can be a sign that your condition may be serious. You may need therapy, such as medications or even surgery.
Your joints turn red or hot. It may be normal for you to feel a bit stiff first thing in the morning. But if your symptoms appear suddenly or are unusual, have them checked out.
You May Like: How To Relieve Arthritis Pain In Thumb
Do I Need To Go To A Rheumatologist Or An Orthopedist
With so much overlap between medical disciplines and specializations, it is often difficult for an individual to discern which type of doctor to see for their problem.
This is especially true for orthopedics and rheumatology, as both of these types of physicians treat joint pain.
Orthopedists are surgeons who address bone and joint diseases and injuries, such as arthritis, osteoarthritis, and body trauma. Rheumatologists are internal medicine physicians who focus on autoimmune conditions and the non-surgical treatment of such diseases, such as arthritis, where medications and/or physical therapy can provide the proper treatment.
It is important to understand the areas these two specialties cover in order to make an informed decision.
How Arthritis In The Hands Is Treated
If youre diagnosed with an inflammatory form of arthritis, you have more treatment options than someone with OA. While nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help manage the pain of both types of arthritis, the development of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and biologics has vastly improved the prognosis of those with inflammatory forms of arthritis by reducing inflammation and preventing further joint damage.
Cortisone injections can be useful for those with OA and conditions such as RA, though theyre usually used in patients whose inflammatory arthritis is limited to just one or two joints, Dr. Byram says. Injections of hyaluronic acid can be helpful for those with OA , but these are better for managing pain in larger joints like the knees rather than the hands.
Recommended Reading: Is Monggo Beans Bad For Arthritis
Internal Medicine Doctor In Tucson Arizona
If you have arthritis, the best thing you can do is find a supportive, knowledgeable, and experienced doctor to help you feel your best. Dr. Robert E. Lending is a board-certified internal medicine physician with decades of experience in the medical field. He has a lot of experience treating patients with conditions like arthritis and would love to help you.
To make an appointment with Dr. Lending, call 795-4291 or request an appointment online now. We look forward to welcoming you to our clinic in Tucson!
Which Doctor Treats Osteoarthritis
Treating any type of arthritis requires a range of expert help. In your treatment of osteoarthritis, you may find some or all of the following become a part of your professional healthcare team:Primary Care Doctor: These are doctors who treat patients before they are transferred to a specialist. Even though you may be referred to a specialist for a diagnosis or treatment your primary care physician will more than likely coordinate the care you receive from all the health care providers you come into contact with. Rheumatologists: These are doctors that specialize in the treatment of all types of arthritis, and diseases of the muscles and bones including osteoporosis.Orthopedists: Surgeons who specialize in surgery of the musculoskeletal system. That is, surgery for bone and joint diseases. If you need joint replacement surgery , this operation will be performed by an orthopedic surgeon. Carpal tunnel release, fracture repair, hip replacement, lower back disc surgery and knee and shoulder arthroscopy are just some of the surgeries commonly performed by orthopedists.Physiatrists : A medical doctor or doctor of osteopathy who is certified in rehabilitation medicine. The goal of this a physiatrist is to help the patient overcome the difficulties of physical disability and impairments and make the most of their physical potential. A physiatrist will diagnose and recommend a treatment plan for a patient, and a physical therapist will carry out the treatment.
Read Also: Is Protein Good For Arthritis
What Are The Signs Of Arthritis In The Hands
May 19, 2021
Achy, swollen hands? Stiffness in your wrists? Its common to assume these are symptoms of arthritis. While 40 million Americans suffer from arthritis, its far less frequent in the hands than people expect. Instead, what many mistake for arthritis is actually tendonitis. Let’s look at the difference between arthritis and other conditions, risk factors and treatments.
Signs That You Need Specialist Care
Arthritis can often be managed under the care of a general physician. However, as the disease advances, the tools needed to properly manage the disease may beyond the scope of your doctors. With ongoing advances in our understanding of arthritis, a primary care doctor is not always able to keep up with new procedures, protocols, and medications.
In such cases, it may be time to bring a new member into your healthcare team. Chief among these is a rheumatologist who specializes in osteoarthritis as well as rheumatoid arthritis and related disease.
Whether or not you need a specialist depends on the stage of your disease and how typical your case may be. The following insights should help you decide.
Read Also: What’s Better For Arthritis Heat Or Ice
Hand Surgeon In San Antonio Texas
At the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine, our hand surgery team diagnoses and treats a broad range of hand injuries and conditions, including arthritis.
Our extensive education and training enable us to treat the most complex hand issues. For any type of hand or wrist pain and injury, call the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine at 692-7400 or request an appointment now. We are happy to provide you the highest quality care for your hand condition.