Arthritis is inflammation in one or more joints. Although there are over 100 forms of arthritis, most of them affect the foot and ankle, and you’d often feel stiffness and pain in those areas. The joint damage can also cause swelling and other changes in your feet and ankles.
Foot and ankle arthritis formation and progression
The risk of arthritis typically increases with age. It can make walking difficult during this time, and you can no longer enjoy the activities you usually perform, such as exercising.
Arthritis usually occurs when the joint and nearby soft tissue become inflamed. With most types, the soft tissue surrounding the joints — cartilage — wears down over time, and the bones begin to rub directly against each other.
This leads to further wear and tear of the joint, and over time, the joint may no longer work as it should. Walking becomes excruciatingly painful.
Although arthritis often affects older people, it affects younger people, too. Obesity and family history of the disease are risk factors.
Athletes who suffer from foot and ankle may find it challenging to perform because they walk and run often. Since their ankles and feet provide support and shock absorption, inflamed ones cannot do so efficiently, and activities become more painful than fun.
Types of foot and ankle arthritis
Several types of arthritis can cause pain in the feet and ankles, including:
- Osteoarthritis, also called degenerative or wear-and-tear arthritis, results from bone rubbing directly against bone.
- Rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic disease that affects multiple joints throughout the body, starting with the foot and ankle, is caused when your immune system starts attacking itself.
- Post-traumatic arthritis, which happens after a dislocation or bone fracture.
The symptoms of foot and ankle arthritis include:
- Joint stiffness and swelling.
- Tenderness when you touch your ankles.
- Pain in your ankles when walking and moving.
- More pain after resting or sleeping.
Treating foot and ankle arthritis
There is no known cure for arthritis, but it can be managed in several ways.
Some of the most effective ways of treating foot and ankle arthritis are medical-grade medications, regenerative medicine, physical therapy, and surgery. The top podiatrists at Foot & Ankle Specialty Group can access your condition and medical history and develop the ideal treatment plan for your arthritis.
Depending on the cause and symptoms of your arthritis, it can also be treated in any or some of the following ways:
- Pain killers
- Anti-inflammatory drugs for the swelling
- Steroids injected into the joint
- Braces or canes to support movement
- Custom-fitted shoes with support or pads.
Some home remedies to try
When you live with foot and ankle arthritis, it would be best to wear comfortable shoes. Your shoes should be:
- Shaped like your foot
- A proper fit
- Have rubber soles acting as a cushion.
You can also try foot massage, menthol and capsaicin creams, ibuprofen, hot water in the affected area, and gentle exercises, such as yoga, big-toe stretch, and toe curl.
Like many other conditions, arthritis can come with age, but that’s not saying it doesn’t affect younger people. Whatever the case, arthritis can significantly disrupt how much you enjoy life. So it’s worth taking an effective treatment approach so you can get back on your feet doing the things you love.