Arthritis is the inflammation of the joints, a condition that affects over 50 million Americans. Certain types of arthritis can be hereditary, and although the disease becomes more common with age, it affects people at all stages of life. More than 60% of Americans with arthritis are under 65 years of age, but most commonly, the disease strikes people over 50 years of age.
In the feet, arthritis can lead to immobility. Since the human foot is comprised of over 30 joints and the feet bear the impact of the entire body’s weight, the foot is more susceptible to develop arthritis than other body parts. Unfortunately, as it progresses, arthritis can become debilitating and even crippling; however, early diagnosis and proper treatment can limit and slow its advancement.
There are two main forms of arthritis: rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis diseases cause chronic inflammation that can affect many smaller joints, such as the ankle and toe joints. RA is the most serious form of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is more common and results from degeneration of the joints due to wear and tear over time. As people age, some joints, particularly those that have been overused or under constant pressure, become susceptible to cartilage breakdown. Common symptoms of osteoarthritis are pain and muscle weakness that become progressively worse, as well as sore or stiff joints due to overuse or periods of inactivity.
What Are Symptoms of Arthritis of the Foot and Ankle?
- On-going joint pain and tenderness
- Redness, swelling, and stiffness in the joint area
- Growths, rashes, and other skin changes in the joint area
- Limited motion and stiffness of the join
How Is Arthritis of the Foot and Ankle Treated?
- Physical therapy and exercise to increase strength and function
- Anti-inflammatory medication and steroid injections (do not take any medication without
- the advice of a doctor)
- Foot soaks and ice application
- Orthotics or prescribed footwear