The foot has thirty-three joints, all of which are extremely susceptible to arthritis. Arthritis is the inflammation of the cartilage and lining of the joints, along with an increase in joint fluid. Arthritis can affect any area of the body, but with the feet having so many joints and rarely being able to rest, the feet are a common place for arthritis.
Arthritis can be caused by a number of different factors, if you have more then 2 common factors you are at high risk for developing arthritis:
- Injury or strain: Athletic persons and industrial workers are at high risk for arthritis due to the repetitive tasks and motions.
- Heredity: If someone in your family, especially older persons, has arthritis then you could be at higher risk.
- Infection: If you have ever had a bacterial or viral infection in your foot, these can cause joint damage and lead to arthritis.
- Intestinal disorders: Certain gastrointestinal disorders, such as ileitis and colitis can cause arthritis in the feet and ankles.
- Drugs: Certain prescriptions and illegal drugs can cause arthritis.
There are two types of arthritis that are usually seen in the foot, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition common in older people. Usually affecting one or more joints, osteoarthritis can be caused by obesity, age and certain types of trauma. Other types of bone changes may occur in conjunction with osteoarthritis, such as bone spurring, cartilage destruction, and joint space narrowing.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a systematic disease that is most prevalent in the hands and feet. Causing other foot problems such as hammertoes, bunions, metatarsalgia, and other bone issues, severe forefoot pain is seen. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease, leading to permanent joint destruction if not taken care of properly.
So, how do you know if you have arthritis of the foot? Here are some common symptoms:
- Stiffness in the morning
- Recurring pain in any joint
- Redness or heat in the joint
- Swelling of the joint
- Limited movement
- Skin changes including rashes or growths
There are some things that you can do to treat and slow the progression of arthritis of the feet. You have already taken the first step by educating yourself on arthritis of the feet, now all you need is the correct treatment path and you are on your way to being pain free. For treatment of arthritis, physical therapy and low impact exercise can help to strengthen the joints and tissues while slowing the deterioration of the joint. Supportive footwear is important, especially shoes with a wide toe box, to accommodate any type of distorted toes or sore joints. Other treatment options include:
- Medications such as aspirin or anti-inflammatory
- Topical arthritis medications or anti-inflammatory cream
- Removable insoles with cushion and arch support
- Foot, ankle or knee supports
- Over-the-counter Glucosamine and Chindroitin supplements
- Rocker bottom soles to help walking and reduce the stress on the balls of the feet
The best way to treat arthritis is prevention. Taking care of your feet and if you ever feel pain in a joint, talk to your doctor. Your joints should never hurt; pain is your body telling you something is wrong!