Who Gets Ankle Arthritis
Ankle arthritis occurs in roughly 1% of people, usually as a result of a trauma, such as a fracture or dislocation, years earlier. People under 40 who have had an ankle injury can occasionally get this condition, but most often it develops from a lifetime of use in older people. The older we get, the more our cartilage deteriorates especially in joints that we use most frequently. About 18% of people over the age of 65 have degenerative changes in their ankle joint.
Arthritis In The Toes
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
How Are Ankles And Feet Affected By Arthritis
Any joint in your ankles, feet and toes can be affected by arthritis. Many different types of arthritis can affect the feet and cause joint pain, swelling and stiffness. Arthritis in the feet can make standing and walking painful. You may find your feet and/or toes change shape, making it harder to fit shoes.
Consider different forms of exercise to take pressure off painful feet. Make sure you have supportive, well fitting footwear.
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Other Causes Of Foot Pain
Pain in the foot can be a consequence of damage, pressure or rubbing over a long period of time.
Wearing badly fitting shoes, pregnancy, injury, or putting too much strain through specific parts of your foot can all cause changes in the shape of your feet. Often, these changes are painful and can affect your ability to do things.
Sometimes, its our choice of shoes that has the biggest impact on the structure of our feet and the problems we develop, such as:
Corns are raised areas of hard, knobbly skin which develop where calluses have been left untreated. They often cause a burning sensation. A corn is a permanent change to your foot which will need care and management to stop it becoming too painful. You can manage corns by gently filing or pumicing them each week. You should never cut the skin with a blade.
Corns and calluses will usually grow back within four to six weeks unless you reduce the pressure on the area. Wearing softer, roomier footwear and placing a cushioned pad over the corn or callus can help.
A neuroma causes sudden shooting, stabbing, or burning pain. Most commonly it affects the third and fourth toes and the ball of your foot. It can feel like there is a small stone under your foot and your toes may become numb or tingly. It is caused by a damaged or irritated nerve and often becomes more painful over time. It is also known as Mortons neuroma and can be made worse by:
Clawed, mallet, retracted and hammer toes
Learn About Your Surgery Options
When foot arthritis is severe and conservative treatment options fail, surgical intervention may be an option. One type is a fusion of the big toe joint, which fuses together the two bones that make up your joint. This limits the joints range of motion, helping to eliminate the source of pain. Another option is joint replacement surgery for the toe joints. Both are considered end-game measures, but for people who are healthy enough to withstand surgery, it can allow them to function much better.
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Stretch Your Achilles Tendons To Increase Flexibility
You probably dont think about getting your feet in shape the way you do your stomach or your thighs. But exercising your feet can help increase your flexibility and mobility, important when you have arthritis in your feet. Good exercises involve stretching your Achilles tendon as well as the tendons in the balls of your feet and toes. A good exercise for arthritic feet is simply to wiggle your toes. Frisch has his patients use the TV as an exercise aid.
When a commercial comes on, use that time to wiggle, he says. Just dont overdo: Stretching is good to help joint mobility, but dont do it to the point where youre hurting yourself.
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.
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How Can I Treat Foot Or Ankle Pain When It Starts
Most foot or ankle pain can be treated without the need to see a healthcare professional.
Soft-tissue injuries should begin to improve over the first few days with the help of some simple self-care tips. You may need to be careful and protect the injured area for several months, until it has fully recovered.
How Will It Affect Me
Osteoarthritis can affect people in different ways, but the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis are:
- pain and swelling in the affected joints
- stiffness, especially if you havent moved for a while
- joints looking bigger than normal.
Some people with osteoarthritis can hear grating or crunching noises when moving their feet and ankles. You may also feel unsteady on your feet.
You may have an achy feeling in your feet, especially if youve been particularly active or worn high heels. Some people also get pain in their feet at night.
In the ankle, osteoarthritis could cause your ligaments to become weaker, which could put more strain on the cartilage. You might also find the muscles around your ankle become weaker over time, and it may feel painful to walk or put weight on your ankle.
The repair process in osteoarthritis can cause spurs to form on the edge of your bones. These are known as osteophytes and change the shape of your joint. Sometimes bone and cartilage can break away and float inside the joint, which could cause more pain and swelling.
If you think you might have osteoarthritis of the foot or ankle, its important to visit your GP, so they can diagnose you and start treatment as soon as possible. If youve been diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the foot or ankle, its important to know that your symptoms probably wont get worse, and they may even improve.
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Treating Foot And Ankle Arthritis
There is no known cure for arthritis, but it can be managed in several ways.
Some of the most effective ways of treating foot and ankle arthritis are medical-grade medications, regenerative medicine, physical therapy, and surgery. The top podiatrists at Foot & Ankle Specialty Group can access your condition and medical history and develop the ideal treatment plan for your arthritis.
Depending on the cause and symptoms of your arthritis, it can also be treated in any or some of the following ways:
- Pain killers
- Anti-inflammatory drugs for the swelling
- Steroids injected into the joint
- Braces or canes to support movement
- Custom-fitted shoes with support or pads.
How Do Podiatrists Treat Arthritis Of The Feet
There are several different treatment options that we have available to handle your arthritis symptoms:
Medication: Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen can help reduce inflammation and pain. While those with more minor bouts of arthritis can often find relief from these medications, some patients may need a prescription-strength pain reliever to manage more severe symptoms.
Steroid injections: A dose of corticosteroids administered directly into the joint can help greatly reduce pain and inflammation. While this can be an effective treatment option, the effects are only temporary.
Physical Therapy: There are some exercises you can perform to help increase flexibility and movement while also strengthening your foot and ankle muscles to prevent further problems. Talk to your foot doctor about the different exercises you can perform each day to help improve your foot health and reduce arthritis symptoms.
Lifestyle changes: You should minimize certain activities that could cause symptoms to worsen. This includes switching from more high-impact exercises such as running to lower-impact exercises such as swimming, which will take some of the stress and pressure off the feet and ankles. If necessary we may also advise you to lose weight, as well.
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Summary Of Ankle Arthritis
Ankle arthritis is a result of damaged or worn cartilage at the joint that connects the foot to the leg. It may be the result of injury, wear and tear, deformity or inflammation. In the early stages, activity modification, weight loss, rest and acetaminophen are the primary treatment strategies. As the arthritis progresses, bracing and physical therapy may be needed. Surgery can be successful in treating ankle arthritis when it does not respond to non-surgical management.
Set A Weight Loss Goal
When it comes to arthritis, what your scale says really matters. People with a higher body weight are diagnosed with arthritis at an earlier age and have more severe arthritis. It makes sense: Feet are a weight-bearing joint, so obesity makes arthritis worse, says Dr. Domingues. Even one extra pound on your frame can equal about five extra pounds of force on your feet. Losing 20 pounds can mean sparing your feet from an extra 100 pounds of force with every stride.
Excess body weight also increases inflammation, which fuels the painful symptoms of inflammatory types of arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. Its not easy to lose weight when you have stiff or sore joints, but even a five- to 10-percent reduction in body weight has been shown to dramatically diminish joint pain and improve exercise tolerance. Check out these weight loss tips that are especially helpful when you have arthritis.
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- Rheumatology Services, 888-229-3065
Selecting a health care provider is a very important decision. Because we are highly experienced in treating ankle arthritis, we would like to help you explore your options. Visit our Contact Us page to see a list of clinics and their contact information. Our staff will be glad to talk with you about how we can help.
Lifestyle Changes And Home Remedies For Arthritis In The Ankle
Lifestyle modifications are a big part of helping treat arthritis in the ankle. The most important lifestyle change a patient can make is a commitment to healthy eating and exercise, says Dr. Archer. Unfortunately, pain from arthritis can force a patient to become more sedentary, which in turn can cause depression and overeating. Diet is 80 percent to 90 percent of the battle.
Soothe with heat and ice: Stiff and sore ankles can be relaxed and soothed with heat therapy. Ice can help numb areas affected by joint pain and reduce inflammation. Ice therapy is helpful for acute exacerbation of arthritis symptoms , and heat is good for chronic pain symptoms, says Dr. Archer.
Do ankle-friendly exercise: Its important to control your weight with regular, low-impact aerobic exercise. Keeping your weight close to your ideal BMI is the best thing you can do to control your pain and symptoms, says Dr. Archer. As little as a 10-pound weight gain can increase stress on your ankle. This extra weight can weaken tendons and ligaments, which makes sprains and strains more likely.
Do gentle exercises that dont stress the ankle joint, such as swimming or cycling. Walking is one of the best exercises if done correctly with good shoes, says Dr. Bhatt. Limit high-impact activities, such as running or tennis. Also stay away from soccer and kickboxing, says Dr. Bhatt.
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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.
When To See A Doctor
- See your doctor if you think you might have osteoarthritis in the foot. The sooner you get some help, the more you can do to slow down the wear and tear on the joint.
- Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist who will show you exercises to relieve the pain in your foot.
- Ice and rest can relieve the pain from osteoarthritis in the toes.
- Take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine like ibuprofen to reduce pain and swelling.
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When Should I See A Healthcare Professional About Foot Or Ankle Pain
Some foot pain can become more than a short-term problem. If you cannot treat the pain yourself or you have a condition that could affect the joints or soft tissue, it may need further investigation.
You should speak to your doctor or a footcare specialist if:
- your pain does not improve in the first few days
- your pain is getting worse
- it is still causing problems after two weeks of self-care
- you have sores that are not healing
- your skin has changed colour especially if its turned dark blue or black
- your foot has changed shape or is really swollen
- you have a high temperature or feel hot and shivery
- it is red, warm, or swollen as you may have an infection
- the problem keeps coming back or lasts longer than three months
- you have an inflammatory condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis or scleroderma
- you have diabetes
- you are taking steroids, biologics or other drugs that affect your immune system.
Surgery For Arthritis In The Ankle
Your doctor may recommend surgery for your ankle arthritis if your pain causes disability and isnt relieved with nonsurgical treatment. Your doctor may recommend more than one type of surgery. Ankle surgery is complicated as it most commonly involves a fusion of the rearfoot or ankle joint or both, says Dr. Archer. If there is significant spurring of the ankle joint, the spurs can be resected via ankle arthroscopy first before fusion is attempted to try and restore ankle motion. However, all non-surgical measures should be attempted before surgery is planned.
Whats right for you depends on the extent of your arthritis in the ankle. Here are some options.
Ankle arthroscopic repair: Ankle arthroscopy is useful to clean up loose joint bodies, or small pieces of bone spurs in the joint that have broken off over time, says Dr. Archer. It can lead to less pain and improved range of motion, says Dr. Bilal. Since the surgery can be done laparoscopically, your surgeon will make a few small incisions.
Ankle arthroscopic repair is helpful in the early stages of arthritis in the ankle and for those with limited ankle arthritis. Its often ineffective in advanced ankle arthritis, says Dr. Bilal. Thats because when a significant amount of cartilage has worn away, the procedure wont help the joint.
Dr. Archer says that you shouldnt expect to walk as you once did. But if the pain is bad enough, you may welcome the chance to walk slightly differently without pain.
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Arthritis In The Midfoot
The midfoot joints, called tarsometatarsal joints, are located almost halfway between the ankle and the toes, slightly closer to the ankle. These joints connect the long bones that form the arch of the foot to the bony part of the foot in front of the ankle. Arthritis that develops in the midfoot can affect one or more of these joints, causing pain when walking or climbing stairs.
Recognizing The Signs Of Arthritis In Your Feet
When you think about arthritis, you may think about it occurring in one of your major joints, such as your hips or knees. However, any joint in your body can develop arthritis. And your feet contain a lot of joints, with 28 bones and 30 joints in the average human foot.
Like any other joints, the ones in your feet and ankles can develop pain and swelling from arthritis. The good news is there are treatment options. In this blog, Kerry E. Berg, DPM, of Intermountain Foot & Ankle Associates explains some of the symptoms of arthritis of the feet and ankles and what you can do if you have the condition.
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Get A Soothing Foot Massage
Ahh … who doesn’t love a relaxing massage? The soothing effects of massage aren’t just great for your back or shoulders. A foot massage may sometimes provide foot pain relief, Frisch says. Knead the balls of your feet as well as your toes, starting at the top and working your way down to the base. You can do it yourself or ask your partner to help you.