Arthritis can show up in many different forms in the body. But for the purpose of this conversation, we will concentrate on the typical aspects of arthritis which is inflammation, swelling, and often breakdown of joints.
There are 2 main types of arthritis; that which occurs through wear and tear of the joints, and is called osteoarthritis, and another type of arthritis which is due to abnormal and Runaway metabolic processes, referred to as inflammatory arthritis.
Arthritis is a disabling and occasionally crippling disease afflicting almost 40 million Americans. Some forms of arthritis appear to be hereditary. Although the prevalence of arthritis increases with age, all people from infancy to middle age are potential victims. People over 50 are the primary targets.
If the feet seem more susceptible to arthritis than other parts of the body, it is because each foot has 33 joints that can be afflicted, and if you're going to walk there is no way to avoid the pain of weight-bearing on the feet. Arthritic feet can result in loss of mobility and independence. However, early diagnosis and proper medical care can limit or slow the damage.
Symptoms of arthritis in the foot and ankle include:
- Early morning stiffness.
- Limitation in motion of joint.
- Recurring pain or tenderness in any joint.
- Redness or heat in a joint.
- Swelling in one or more joints.
Forms of Arthritis
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It is frequently called degenerative joint disease or wear and tear arthritis. Aging often brings on a breakdown in cartilage, and pain gets progressively more severe. Dull, throbbing nighttime pain is characteristic, and may be accompanied by muscle weakness or deterioration. Many of these symptoms can be relieved with rest. Overweight people are particularly susceptible to osteoarthritis. The additional weight contributes to the deterioration of cartilage and the development of bone spurs.
Inflammatory Arthritis is actually a family of arthritic conditions of which Rheumatoid Arthritis is the best known.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a major crippling disorder and the most serious form of arthritis. It is a complex, chronic inflammatory diseases, often affecting more than a dozen smaller joints during its course. In the foot, it frequently affects both ankles and toes.
Arthritis of the foot and ankle can be treated in many ways, including:
- Physical therapy and exercise.
- Various drugs given by mouth or via monthly injections that modulate the inflammation in the body.
- Injection of various medications directly into the affected joints.
- Orthotics, braces or specially prescribed shoes.
- Various surgical procedures to realign, refurbish, replace, or fuse afflicted joints.