If you have been diagnosed with arthritis, or joint inflammation, you know all too well the pain associated with the disease. There are several types of arthritis, but the most common form is osteoarthritis, or “wear-and-tear” arthritis. Also referred to as degenerative joint disease, it’s the breakdown of cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones where they meet to form joints. This breakdown causes the bones to rub against each other, causing pain, stiffness, and loss of movement in the joint. In the foot, osteoarthritis can affect any joint. Symptoms associated with osteoarthritis are tenderness or pain, stiffness in the joint, swelling in the joint, and reduced ability to move, walk, or bear weight.
Proper diagnosis, early treatment, and pain management are all key factors in preventing joint deformity and disability. Treatment entails taking medications for arthritis management. These medications include analgesics/NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to provide pain relief and reduce inflammation. NSAIDs have anti-inflammatory and pain killing properties. Some common NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen (e.g., Motrin and Advil), naproxen, and prescription medications such as Celebrex. Also, there are now topical compounding medications that can be very effective for pain management and these are much safer compared to oral medications.
Other treatment options include steroid medications, pads or arch supports, inserts that support the ankle and foot, physical therapy, custom orthotics, and surgery.
Here are a few foot care tips to consider for arthritis management:
- Wear shoes that fit properly and feel comfortable
- Wear shoes with more cushioning and rubber soles
- Perform exercises to help keep your feet pain-free, flexible, and strong:
- Achilles stretch–With your palms flat on a wall, lean against the wall and place one foot forward and one foot back. Lean forward, leaving your heels on the floor. Repeat 3 times, holding for 10 seconds on each side.
Toe pull – Place a thick rubber band around the toes of each foot, and then spread your
toes. Hold this position for five seconds and repeat 10 more times.
Toe curl – Pick up marbles or any small objects with your toes.
Consult the doctors at Lakes Foot & Ankle Associates to determine the best course of treatment for foot and ankle osteoarthritis.