Posts for: September, 2018
Arthritis is a joint condition that affects roughly 54 million American adults according to the Arthritis Foundation. It can show up in joints all around the body, including the feet and toes. When the joints of the feet are affected by inflammation, it affects a patient’s ability to move their toes, bend their feet up or down, and turn on a dime when participating in athletic activities. Learn the steps that you can take to care for arthritic feet and improve your overall foot health.
Arthritis in the Feet
Arthritic joint pain, which is usually caused by an inflammatory reaction, is most commonly felt in the big toe, ankle, and the middle part of the foot. There are many different types of arthritis conditions that could affect the feet, including psoriatic, reactive, and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form—it is caused by the bones rubbing together, making the joints feel stiff and painful. Patients who are overweight are more likely to struggle with arthritic feet, as are seniors. Some people have had arthritis since childhood (juvenile arthritis or JA), making them more likely to develop foot deformities like bunions and struggle with swollen joints.
Though arthritis isn’t a curable condition, the symptoms can be eased with treatment so that you can continue to walk, jog, exercise, and work without debilitating pain. These are some of the ways your podiatrist may treat arthritis in the feet:
- An X-ray or other imaging test to examine the condition of the joints.
- Physical therapy exercises to make the joints more flexible.
- Orthotic device or shoe for better foot support.
- Joint injections (corticosteroids).
- NSAID drugs (anti-inflammatories).
- Surgery to remove inflamed tissue around the joints (Arthroscopic debridement) or fuse the bones (arthrodesis).
Caring for Your Feet
Seeing a foot doctor is an important part of caring for arthritic feet. But there are also some actions you can take at home to keep your feet and joints in good condition:
- Get rid of shoes that put too much pressure on your joints, like high heels or sneakers that don’t support the ankles.
- Soak your feet in warm water with Epsom salt and massage your feet when relaxing.
- Commit to doing the toe and foot exercises suggested by your podiatrist.
Treating Arthritic Feet
Arthritic feet shouldn't prevent you from carrying on with normal life and physical activities. Get help from a podiatrist as soon as you start to experience symptoms and take extra steps to care for your feet.
Custom orthotics are removable shoe inserts that provide greater arch support and stability to the feet and ankles. There are different types of orthotics available depending on the issue and level of support that is needed. Basic orthotics are sold over the counter, but a custom pair designed specifically for your foot will provide optimal support and comfort.
When are Custom Orthotics Necessary?
Podiatrists typically recommend custom orthotics for people with flat feet, or very high arches. One of the most common signs that you may benefit from a pair of orthotics is heel pain (although you may also experience pain and swelling in other parts of the foot). You may also experience pain and swelling after normal and relatively low impact activities like standing or walking.
A good way to figure out if you are having pronation issues is to examine the soles of your shoes and sneakers. If the soles and insoles tend to become visibly more worn on one side, it may be a sign that your alignment is off and you are over or under pronating. A podiatrist may ask you to walk in your bare feet to observe your stride and gait (known as a gait analysis). If you experience persistent pain, swelling, or stiffness, especially after exercise or after long periods of rest, schedule an appointment with a podiatrist.
Types of Custom Orthotics
There are a few different types of custom orthotics designs available depending on your needs.
Functional (also known as rigid) orthotics are made of harder materials and are usually prescribed for pronation problems or joint issues like arthritis.
Accommodative orthotics are designed to provide more cushioning and support and are typically prescribed for problems like plantar fasciitis and bunions.
In addition to improving your gait and foot and ankle alignment, custom orthotics can help to prevent related strains and injuries and relieve back, joint, and knee pain if it is caused by issues with your arches and pronation.