These Exercises For Arthritic Feet May Help You Stand And Maintain Your Activity Level
Research shows that walking is good medicine for arthritis pain.1 But the most difficult thing about having arthritic feet and ankles is that walking around with that discomfort in your feet makes you want to stop doing exactly thatwalking. So if youre one of the many suffering from foot arthritis pain, chances are good youre choosing Netflix on the couch over a weekend hike or a walk in the park.
When arthritis pain strikes, use Voltaren Arthritis Pain Gel. It provides targeted relief from arthritis pain where you need it most.
Dont stop there, though. Strengthening the feet is a great way to reduce arthritis pain, explains Jordan Metzl, MD, sports medicine physician at Hospital For Special Surgery. The more strength you have, the better your feet will act and feel, says Dr. Metzl.
Want to give strengthening a go? Dr. Metzl suggests the following foot exercises to help reduce arthritis symptoms, so you can be active.
What Is Treatment For Arthritis In The Feet
There is no cure for arthritis, but the pain associated with it can be reduced drastically for some patients. The goals of treatment are to:
- Manage symptoms
- Control inflammation
- Preserve or restore joint function
Many patients find the best foot arthritis treatment is one that uses a number of complementary therapies to find relief. A combination of natural treatments, such as orthotics and exercises, along with medication and interventional strategies can help you get back to your life.
Foot And Ankle Arthritis Types
Arthritis is a general term for a group of more than 100 diseases. It can involve inflammation and swelling in and around your joints and the nearby soft tissue.
With many kinds of arthritis, your joints wear down over time. You slowly lose the smooth “cushioning” cartilage inside them. As a result, your bones rub and wear against each other. Soft tissues in your joints also may begin to wear down. After some time, the joint might not work or move the way it should.
Several types of arthritis can cause pain in your feet and ankles, including:
- Osteoarthritis, or “wear-and-tear” arthritis, is the most common type. Doctors also call it degenerative joint disease or age-related arthritis. Osteoarthritis usually causes changes over many years. The foot and ankle joints where itâs most common are:
- The three joints involving your heel bone, your inner mid-foot bone, and your outer mid-foot bone
- The joint of your big toe and foot bone
- The joint where your ankle and shinbone meet
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See Your Doctor For Arthritis In The Feet
If you have arthritis in your feet, have your feet checked by a rheumatologist or podiatrist at least once a year, Dr. Frisch says.
We recommend yearly visits to be sure there arent any changes in your feet and to see whether any devices you may have been given, such as braces or orthotics, are working appropriately,” says Frisch. “And if youre having pain, dont wait for your yearly visit. See your doctor right away.
What Does Rheumatoid Arthritis In The Feet Feel Like
When your feet are affected by rheumatoid arthritis, you may experience swelling, redness, and a feeling of warmth around the affected joints. Pain is very common as well. In one study comparing foot problems in RA patients versus people without arthritis, 98 percent of RA patients had foot pain and 96 percent reported some difficulty in function, compared to 76 percent and 66 percent, respectively, in the healthy group. Compared with osteoarthritis, which typically affects one specific joint, rheumatoid arthritis usually occurs in the same joints on both sides of your body so it commonly affects both feet at once. Symptoms may flare, then go into periods of remission. Heres more information about coping with rheumatoid arthritis flares. Over time, rheumatoid arthritis can cause joints to deform and shift out of place. Specific foot problems caused by RA include:
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How Is Arthritis In Feet Treated
A diagnosis of arthritis does not necessarily mean that your quality of life will decrease. By seeking treatment early and taking an active role in the management of your arthritis, you can control the pain and limit damage to your joints.
Left untreated, however, arthritis can eventually lead to foot and ankle deformities.
A treatment regimen for arthritis in the foot or feet may include nonsurgical therapies and/or surgery. There are many nonsurgical treatment options, and they are often used in combination with one another. These can be divided into three categories:
- A brace or a cane
Physical and complementary medicine
- Physical therapy and gentle exercises
- Acupuncture or massage at and around affected joints
- Application of a heating pad or a damp, warm towel to affected joints
- Weight control
For many types of arthritis, aspirin is used as the first-line treatment, and its success or failure can help guide other therapeutic interventions. Treatment can control inflammation and preserve or restore joint function.
Surgical intervention may be considered as a last resort if the arthritis does not respond to nonsurgical interventions.
The choice of surgery depends on the type of arthritis you have, its impact on the joints, and its location. More than one surgery may be needed. Surgeries used to treat arthritis in the feet include:
- Arthroscopic debridement
- Arthrodesis or fusion
- Arthroplasty or joint replacement
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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.
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Exercises For Arthritis In The Toe
Keeping the toe joint limber and lubricated could be a good defense against pain in the MTP joint.
Extension exercises can help improve range of motion in the toehow far you can move itwhile potentially reducing pain. Start with the toe in its regular position and then bend it up and down with your hands, holding each bend for 30 seconds.
Flexibility exercises are also helpful, and can be performed by crossing the affected foot over your knee. Gently grab the foot behind the toe joint using your opposite hand. Making sure the foot is held stationary the entire time, use your hand to gently pull the toe away from the foot. Hold the position and gently rotate the toe in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction.
Dorsiflexion exercises are also recommended and can help with pain and mobility. Cross your affected foot over the opposite knee and bend your toe backwards as far as possible with your hand. Making sure there is no pain, hold for about 20 to 30 seconds and then relax.
Lifestyle Changes For Foot Arthritis
A few changes to your daily life can help you feel better and may keep your arthritis from getting worse.
- If a certain activity triggers a flare-up of symptoms, try to keep it to a minimum.
- Instead of high-impact exercises like jogging, do low-impact ones like swimming or cycling.
- Keep a healthy weight so your joints arenât under as much stress.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases : “What Is Osteoarthritis?” and “Hand Out on Health: Osteoarthritis.”
National Institute on Aging: “Age Page: Arthritis Advice.”
American Podiatric Medical Association: âArthritis.â
American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons: âArthritis of the Foot and Ankle.â
Arthritis Foundation: âWhen Foot Pain May Mean Arthritis,â âPsoriatic Arthritis.â
Mayo Clinic: âArthritis.â
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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.
Psoriatic Arthritis And Your Feet: What Is It
Psoriatic arthritis can inflame any of the foots 26 bones, 33 joints, and connective tissues that surround the joints. I have so much pain where my toes and foot connect. Feels like a constantly moving charley horse in my foot, said one member.
Similar to rheumatoid arthritis, joints may feel warm, sore, and tender. Members report that stiffness is often worse in the morning. Getting out of bed, I have a lot of pain in my feet, said one member. I woke up with pain in my ankle. Thanks psoriasis, said another member. Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, PsA often only affects one side of the body, so just one foot or toe may be affected.
Although PsA can develop slowly with mild symptoms, several members of MyPsoriasisTeam report rapid and severe onset. I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis very quickly after discovering my first tiny sign of psoriasis, and unfortunately, it progressed quickly, explained one member. Another said, This disease came out of nowhere! I was literally fine, then boom, my feet started hurting and getting worse and worse.
Psoriatic arthritis flares on-and-off periods of worsening symptoms can make coping with foot PsA even more challenging, say members of MyPsoriasisTeam. Some days I am totally fine and other days, the flares are so bad I can barely walk, said one member. During a flare I need walking sticks to help me along, said another.
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Natural Treatments For Foot Arthritis
If you suffer from arthritis in the foot or toe arthritis, you have many options to find relief. The most important one is to lose any excess weight. Extra weight puts additional pressure on the joints, leading to an increase in pain. If you lose weight, you can relieve a lot of your pain.
Along with weight-loss, the six other proven natural treatments for arthritis include:
- Getting in low-impact exercise, as exercise is one of the most important ways to reduce arthritis pain
- Getting foot massages to reduce tension in your feet
- Bracing to support the joint during exercise
- Finding the right shoes for foot arthritis
- Performing exercises and stretches for your feet, especially with big toe arthritis
When Foot Pain May Mean Arthritis
Learn about the various causes of foot pain, including different kinds of arthritis.
Many forms of arthritis and related conditions affect the joints of the foot as well as the skin and toenails. Here are some possible diseases that may cause problems for feet, toes and heels.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. Also known as wear and tear arthritis, OA is a chronic condition caused by the breakdown of the cartilage, which cushions the ends of the bones where they meet to form joints. This breakdown causes the bones to rub together, causing stiffness, pain and loss of joint movement. In the foot, OA most commonly affects the big toe, but it can affect the ankle joints and joints of the heel bone, inner and outer mid-foot. Aging and obesity make OA more likely in the feet.
Juvenile arthritis is the term used to describe the joint diseases that affect children 16 years and younger. There are different types of JA that can cause pain and swelling in several joints, including ones in the feet.
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes the body’s immune system to mistakenly attack healthy tissues, including the joints. The wrist and small joints of the feet are most commonly affected by lupus. In some cases, the toes can also turn blue from sensitivity to cold, a symptom of Raynauds phenomenon.
Getting a Proper Diagnosis
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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.
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.
Your doctor may want to refer you to a specialist in foot care, such as a podiatrist, physiotherapist, or an orthotist, for a diagnosis and treatment.
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What Is The Best Diet And Exercise For Foot Arthritis
Some people with foot and ankle arthritis may benefit from an anti-inflammatory diet, which may reduce chronic pain caused by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Avoiding processed foods and eating vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, and foods with Omega-3 fatty acids, like wild salmon and avocadoes, is a great place to start.
Some studies suggest that people with arthritis should avoid nightshades, which include eggplant, tomatoes, red bell peppers, and potatoes. These fruits and vegetables contain solanine, a chemical believed to worsen arthritis pain. While there is no data to support this claim, doctors recommend paying close attention to your arthritis pain flares after consuming nightshade vegetables.
In most cases, the best diet and exercise for foot arthritis is whatever keeps your weight under control and your joints limber but not overworked. If you are overweight and experiencing arthritis symptoms, it is important to alleviate as much pressure from the joints as possible. In some cases, this could mean losing weight. While this may not be a primary concern, it can help with symptom management.
Exercise is also an important part of foot arthritis symptom management. While you should avoid impact activities, like running and most sports, toe flexion stretches can alleviate some pain.
How Different Kinds Of Arthritis Hurt Your Feet
Various types of arthritis present differently in the feet.
- Osteoarthritis most commonly affects the first metatarsophalangeal joint that connects your big toe to your foot, although its also often found in the midfoot and ankle.
- Rheumatoid arthritis usually appears in both feet and affects the same joints in each foot. This is in contrast to OA, which typically affects one specific joint.
- Gout frequently affects only the feet, often the big toe. Read more about treating a gout flare.
- Psoriatic arthritis can also take a toll on toes, causing sausage-like swelling called dactylitis. PsA is often also accompanied by inflammation of the entheses, the places where tendons and ligaments attach to bones. In the feet this usually presents as plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes, as well as the bony projections known as bone spurs, which can cause pain if they press or rub on other bones or soft tissues.
- Ankylosing spondylitis also causes enthesitis, such as plantar fasciitis and pain at the Achilles tendon.
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