Foot & Ankle Arthritis
It’s common to associate arthritis with getting older. There might be a kernel of truth in this association (as you will see when we discuss risk factors for it), but it isn’t completely accurate. There is an assortment of arthritic conditions that develop in response to various causes. The more you know about arthritis, the better your chance of being able to find the care you need for it right here at Foot & Ankle Center of Oklahoma.
Types of Arthritic Conditions
The term “arthritis” can be used to describe any of the over 100 different conditions resulting in stiff or pained joints. As it relates to foot and ankle care, a few of these are more commonly seen:
- Osteoarthritis – Generally considered to be the “wear and tear,” variation, this is the arthritic condition most commonly associated with the term. The condition develops as cartilage protecting the ends of bones breaks down.
- Rheumatoid arthritis – This form of arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. Your body’s immune system begins to attack the joint lining – synovial membrane – which is a tough membrane that encloses joint components.
- Gout – Unlike the other varieties, gout is actually related to dietary choices. When your body breaks down certain food products, the resulting byproduct is uric acid. When uric acid is not properly flushed out of the system, or if too much is produced, it can crystalize in joints, especially the one found at the base of the big toe (the metatarsophalangeal joint).
- Post-traumatic arthritis – This form of osteoarthritis happens as the result of physical trauma or injury (auto accidents, sports injuries, falls). Trauma can cause damage to a bone and/or cartilage in a joint, and this then alters its biomechanical functioning and may cause the joint to wear down more quickly than it otherwise would.
Signs and Symptoms of Arthritis
Basically, the most common arthritis symptom is joint pain and stiffness. The specific arthritic condition will dictate which symptoms are present, but there may also be swelling, decreased range of motion, and redness. In the case of gout, the symptoms usually arrive in the form of periodic “attacks.” It is possible for you to experience a painful gout attack and then not have another one until months later.
Risk Factors for Arthritic Conditions
There are various risk factors for arthritis, but family history is a prevailing one. Genetic inheritance can make someone more susceptible to environmental factors which trigger arthritis than another person. If siblings or parents have an arthritic condition, your odds of developing one are heightened. Other factors can include obesity, gender, age, and injury history. With regard to gender, men are more likely to develop gout, whereas women have increased risk for rheumatoid arthritis.
Arthritis tends to be progressive and cannot be reversed, so treatment methods are centered on improving joint function and managing painful symptoms. Most of the time, a combination of different treatment options works best, including:
- Physical therapy and exercise. We understand it might be counterintuitive to promote physical activity when joints are painful and stiff, but improved range of motion and strengthened muscles to support the joints are quite beneficial.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, and analgesics (which treat pain, but not inflammation) are some common medications used in arthritis treatment.
- Dietary choices. When gout is the form of arthritis being treated, it is important for a patient to eat foods which do not lead to excess levels of uric acid. A diet consisting of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy products, legumes, and limited quantities of lean meats is best.
- In some cases, surgery is the best course of action. This is particularly true for severe, painful conditions. Joint fusion and joint replacement are two of the more common surgical procedures used to treat arthritic conditions.
Top Care for Arthritic Feet and Ankles in OKC
No matter the form of arthritis affecting your foot or ankle, Foot & Ankle Center of Oklahoma is ready to help. We will evaluate your condition and then determine the best course of treatment to help you overcome painful symptoms. Give us a call at (405) 418-2676 or schedule an appointment for our Oklahoma City office online today.
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