Give me an A! Give me an R! Give me a T, an H, an R, an I, a T, an I, and an S! What does it spell? Arthritis. It’s a condition that can creep up on you throughout the years due to old age or a past injury. Before you know it, you’ve spelled it out for yourself, and the results are keeping you from enjoying your life. You know that an active lifestyle is important to stay healthy. However, when you have this condition, it can be a challenge just to get out of bed. Let’s examine the characteristics of the different types, so you can better understand this disease and the treatments McDowell Podiatry Group recommends.
O-U-C-H: The Common Types of Arthritis
Osteoarthritis is a condition that develops over time and breaks down the cartilage between your joints. The bones in your foot, especially your big toe, will feel stiff and painful. It usually affects a specific joint in one of the feet. This often occurs in older adults or people who are overweight, and can also be hereditary.
A condition similar to this is a post-traumatic form of the disease, which occurs in those with previous injuries to the foot or ankle. What starts as some small stiffness after your injury can develop into a more debilitating condition years later.
Rheumatoid arthritis contains more sudden symptoms and is characterized as an autoimmune disease. Sometimes, foot and ankle pain is the first indicator that you have this condition. When you have this disease, your immune system incorrectly attacks the joints in your lower limbs and other areas of your body, causing inflammation in your ankles, heels, and even toes. You usually get symptoms in the same joints on both of your feet.
Sometimes, you can have flare ups that can last for days and even months. Over time, you may develop bunions, claw toes, and pain in the ball of your foot due to constant inflammation and pain. Women are more at risk for developing this problem, which often strikes between ages 30 and 60.
Causes for Pain
A cause hasn’t been pinpointed for rheumatoid arthritis, but genetics and hereditary factors may play a part. Many doctors think that chemical or environmental factors have to be present to trigger the disease. For osteoarthritis, old age is the culprit. When you age, the cartilage between your bones begins to break down. This leaves nothing to cushion the bones rubbing together, creating pain after activity, inability to move the joint, and stiffness.
Treatment with a Capital T
Both types of this condition offer no cures. However, many treatment options exist that can help you stay active and lessen your pain. Trying lower impact activities like swimming and biking to give your feet a break from the constant pounding and pressure that they endure throughout the day. If you have pain in a specific area, try applying an ice pack a few times a day for 20 minutes at a time.
If your condition warrants it, we can make a custom pair of orthotics for your feet at the McDowell Podiatry Group. These devices can cushion the impact from your step and keep you from developing calluses and other foot conditions. If you already have foot problems, a specially-made insert will halt the progression of symptoms and help you avoid surgery. If you need surgical treatment, on the other hand, that’s something we also do in our office. We would only recommend foot and ankle surgery after all other non-invasive methods have failed.
Don’t let arthritis gradually stop you from enjoying your life. Have you feet evaluated by Dr. Brian McDowell and Dr. Gavin P. Ripp at the McDowell Podiatry Group. Make an appointment online or call our office at (916) 961-3434. Meanwhile, you can always stay in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. We’ll be here to take care of you whenever you’re ready.