Arthritis occurs when the joint surfaces begin to deteriorate, usually as a result of wear and tear on the joint or from injury to the joint. This type of arthritis is also sometimes referred to as osteoarthritis, and it is the most common type of arthritis. Osteoarthritis becomes more common as we get older and is also more likely to occur in athletes and other people who placed repeated strain and stress on their joints. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy tissues of the joint lining, resulting in destruction of the joint surfaces.
What kinds of symptoms does arthritis cause?
When arthritis occurs in the joints of the foot and ankle, it usually causes symptoms like:
Pain, especially when the foot or ankle are moved or weight is placed on the foot
Decreased range of motion
Stiffness in the ankle or toes
Tenderness and swelling around the affected area
Redness or warmth in the area
Over time and without proper treatment, arthritis can eventually cause joints to become permanently deformed.
How is arthritis in the foot and ankle treated?
Osteoarthritis is typically treated with oral medications to help decrease pain and joint inflammation that can cause damage to the joint surfaces. If oral medications are not effective, injections of pain medications and corticosteroids may be prescribed. Physical therapy and gentle exercise can help reduce stiffness and improve circulation to the area, helping to keep the joint flexible. Men and women with rheumatoid arthritis will usually need to have medication to help suppress the immune response that attacks the joint tissues. Custom orthotics can be used in any type of arthritis to help provide cushioning and support while also relieving pain and inflammation. In more advanced cases where conservative approaches aren’t effective in providing relief from painful symptoms, surgery may be recommended to fuse joints, immobilizing them so painful friction can not occur.