Arthritis is commonly misunderstood; it’s not a specific disease or ailment – it’s actually a reference to joint disease and pain. There are over 100 types of arthritis and similar ailments. Literally anyone of any age can suffer from it – though it’s most typical in women and the elderly.
Some of the most typical variations of arthritis we handle at Advanced Foot & Ankle are:
- Osteoarthritis, “wear and tear” arthritis, the most common form caused by breakdown of the joint and tissue over time.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the most serious form of arthritis, a disorder causing continual irritation and soreness in the joints and even deformity or loss of motion (women are 3-4 times more likely to obtain RA).
- Psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis causing joint inflammation.
- Gout, inflammatory arthritis, often found in those who have high levels of uric acid in the blood (most commonly found in men).
What Causes Arthritis?
Arthritis can occur as a result of the following:
- Injuries – notably in athletes & industrial workers, especially if ignored
- Unusual & abnormal metabolisms
- Immune system dysfunction – rheumatoid arthritis & systemic lupus erythematosus
- Bacterial & viral infections – organisms found in infections such as pneumonia & staph
- Bowel disorders –colitis, ileitis & other common bowel disorders (treating these can alleviate arthritis as well).
- Drug use – prescribed & illegal street drugs.
- Defective genes
Symptoms & Identification
Different types of Arthritis can have varying symptoms. Generally speaking, the symptoms of arthritis frequently include:
- Swelling in one or more joints
- Recurring pain or tenderness in any joint
- Redness or heat in a joint
- Limitation in motion of joint
- Early morning stiffness
- Skin changes, including rashes and growths
The common Osteoarthritis has its own specific characteristics:
- Breakdown of cartilage
- Dull to throbbing night-time pain
- Muscle weakness or deterioration
- Difficulty walking
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), which is much more sudden than osteoarthritis, often has cycles of relief where symptoms disappear only to be met again with inflammation, stiffness, and pain.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is often characterized by:
- Affects more than a dozen smaller joints
- Pain is frequently in a symmetrical pattern (both ankles, index fingers, hands, ect.)
- Lengthy morning stiffness
- Weight loss
- May also affect the eyes, lungs, heart, & nervous system
Care & Treatment
Most types of arthritis aren’t completely curable, but they can be managed or even temporarily cured. Only a low percentage of those with Arthritis, usually those with Rheumatoid, are forced to use wheelchairs, and walking aids. Still, early detection is very important. One of the side effects and causes of arthritis is bone and cartilage break down; the earlier the treatment can begin the better the chance to slow or prevent further breakdown.
In some cases, debridement or fusion of the joints may be suggested. However, our podiatrists at Advanced Foot & Ankle will always look to non-surgical treatments first. Some of these treatments are:
- Pain relievers
- Shoe pads
- Arch supports
- Steroid injection
- Physical therapy
- Customized shoes
- Maintaining a healthy weight
One of the most important aspects of foot care for those with arthritis is wearing shoes that fit correctly and comfortably. Some of the elements to look for in your shoes are:
- Shoes shaped like your foot
- Shoes that have support — for example, no slip-on shoes
- Rubber soles to provide more cushioning
- Proper fit