Arthritis is often thought of as an old person’s disease, but it can actually strike at any age. Children, teens, young adults, and the middle-aged can also experience the stiffness and pain of this condition. Foot and ankle arthritis is especially common if you have had an injury in the past or put a lot of stress on your feet. The Palmer Foot Clinic wants you to understand this condition and know how to treat it so you can continue the activities you enjoy.
How Do I Know It Is Arthritis?
The term means “pain in the joint” and refers to a broad range of problems that can come from various causes. Common symptoms for arthritis are pain, swelling, stiffness, and trouble walking, but those symptoms can come from other problems as well. The only way to know for sure is to have a medical diagnosis. Podiatrist Iain Palmer will ask you questions about when the pain began, what brings it on, and whether you've had a past injury. An examination will show him exactly where your discomfort is located. Watching how you walk, and imaging tests such as X-rays, CTs, or MRIs, can also reveal where your bones may be degenerating or moving out of alignment.
Three Main Types and Their Causes
Osteoarthritis is a common problem as people reach their 40s and 50s. It is caused by wear and tear on your joints from years of use. Cartilage is the smooth protective covering at the ends of your bones that allows them to move freely against each other with activity. As you age, this covering becomes worn and ragged. This causes inflammation and swelling, which can be very painful.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disease that causes your own immune system to attack the cartilage in your joints. Although it is not considered to be an inherited disease, certain genes seem to make people more prone to developing it. Something—an infection? A toxin in the environment?—triggers these genes to produce substances that attack your own tissues, resulting in their deterioration. The cartilage in the joint begins to break down, and you feel the typical symptoms of swelling and pain.
Post-traumatic arthritis happens after trauma to the joint from a dislocation, sprain, or fracture. Even if the injury has been treated properly and healed itself, that area will always be more susceptible to developing pain and stiffness in the coming years.
How This Condition Affects Your Feet
The joints most often affected will be those in your ankles, the back half of your foot, and your big toe. They will feel tender, and the swollen areas may feel warm to the touch. When the bones in the joints can’t move smoothly, they can stiffen up and you have trouble bearing weight and walking normally. Extreme cases that can result are collapsed arches and dislocated joints that deform the feet and make wearing shoes and walking almost impossible.
Don’t Wait to Be Treated
If you are noticing any of the symptoms listed above, come in for a consultation for foot and ankle arthritis. There are many non-invasive treatments that could relieve your pain and prevent further damage in your joints. We may recommend pain relievers and medications to reduce swelling. Custom orthotics or shoes can help correct imbalances and distribute your weight more evenly to avoid trauma to certain joints. Braces, physical therapy, nutrition therapy, and steroid medications can also help alleviate your discomfort.
If foot and ankle arthritis is keeping you from enjoying your normal activities, contact Palmer Foot Clinic in Winnipeg, Manitoba by calling (204) 697-0649 or requesting an appointment on our website. Podiatrist Iain Palmer is eager to help you find out why your feet hurt and what you can do to make them feel better. Isn’t it time to start enjoying life without debilitating foot pain?