Arthritis in the Feet: Living with Joint Pain
Even a minor ache or pain can make your whole body feel weary. While we often attribute discomfort to a heavy day of activity or simply getting older, there may actually be more going on inside your joints that is to blame. There are many forms of arthritis that can affect anyone at any age and joint pain often gets worse over time without the right treatment. Don’t let things go until it is too painful to even move. Listen to your body and find out what may be the cause behind your joint pain.
Arthritis is actually an umbrella term used that encompasses over 100 different conditions that include gout, rheumatoid arthritis and bursitis. Breaking it down helps shed light on the condition itself: “arthro” means “joint” and “itis” means “inflammation.” Put simply, it is the inflammation of the cartilage and bones in a joint. While simple in definition, though, it can be quite complex, causing significant pain and damage, and impacting a person’s mobility and quality of life.
At the ends of each of your bones there is a layer of cartilage that forms a protective cap. This smooth cartilage, along with a thin lining, allows your bones and joints to move easily. When arthritis sets in, this protective structure is compromised and bones end up grinding against each other. This causes pain and difficulty moving. The condition can be caused by an infection, an injury, an autoimmune disease, or just wear and tear over time. Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout, and post-traumatic arthritis are the most common forms found in the feet.
Osteoarthritis is a leading cause of joint inflammation and this is the type that develops gradually as cartilage breaks down after years of wear and tear. It generally affects people over 50 and can cause significant pain as the bones rub together. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body itself attacks the structure of the joint. We haven’t discovered why this happens, but the inflammation and damage to the cartilage can change the shape of the joint and cause crippling pain. Post-traumatic arthritis is a kind that can set in after an injury. It generally occurs with repeated injury to the same joint. Gout is a very painful, complex form of the condition that often affects the big toe. A build up of uric acid in the body causes sharp, needle-like crystals to collect in the joint, resulting in great pain.
What Should I do For Joint Pain?
If you have swelling, redness, joints that are warm to the touch, inflammation, tenderness, stiffness, or difficulty moving around, there is a chance you could be living with arthritis. Unfortunately, this is generally a chronic problem, but we have many conservative treatments and remedies to help you reduce your pain and prevent the damage from becoming worse. At Dallas Podiatry Works we can examine your feet to determine which type of joint pain you have. We may need to take an MRI or X-ray to get a full diagnosis. After that, we can provide a treatment plan that is suited to your level of pain and that will fit your lifestyle.
Depending on the nature and severity of your condition, we may use a treatment plan that combines anti-inflammatory medications, supplements, injections of medicine into the joints, foot and ankle braces, weight control, and custom orthotic inserts. Custom shoes with stiff or rocker soles can also help reduce how much your joints have to move. It is only when these methods fail to provide relief that we would consider surgery, however there are cases where surgery is necessary to remove damaged tissue or replace parts or all of the joint for a patient to find relief from his or her pain.
Arthritis can affect anyone at any age and it often affects each person in a different way. It does not have to be a problem that takes over and prevents you from enjoying life, though—contact Dallas Podiatry Works for more information. You can reach Dr. Joel W. Brook and Dr. David R. Northcutt by calling our Dallas, TX office at (972) 566-7474 or in Plano, TX at (972) 943-3323.