Arthritis is a disease that affects your joints. It is defined by inflammation and swelling of the lining of the joints, as well as excess fluid in the joints. Although arthritis can afflict any part of the body, the feet are very susceptible to this disease because there are 33 joints in each foot that can be affected. Also, the pain of arthritis in your feet is the greatest because of the fact that your feet bear the weight of your entire body.
Nearly 40 million Americans have this potentially crippling disease and although people over 50 are most prone to it, it can strike at any age from infancy on.
Recognizing the Symptoms
Arthritis manifests itself both on the inside and the outside of your foot. Stiffness of your joints (particularly first thing in the morning), along with pain and swelling are signs of arthritis, and are usually accompanied by external skin changes such as a rash or redness. The affected joints may also feel hot to the touch.
There are two kinds of arthritis:
Osteoarthritis: This is the most common form of the disease. It is also known as “wear and tear” arthritis. Osteoarthritis is degenerative joint disease that occurs as the result of the breakdown of cartilage, which happens as you age. Dull, throbbing pain at night is typical of this type of arthritis. Muscle weakness and deterioration may happen as well. The pain normally gets worse as you get older.
Rheumatoid arthritis: This is actually a complex group of chronic inflammatory diseases that tends to affect smaller joints in the ankles and toes. Rheumatoid arthritis is definitely a more serious medical condition than osteoarthritis with more complicated symptoms and treatment.
A proper diagnosis is the first step to relief. There are many other foot disorders that have joint pain and stiffness as a symptom. At New England Foot & Ankle Specialists, one of our podiatrists, George A. Abboud, D.P.M., Brian D. Tedesco, D.P.M., Carl Conui, D.P.M., or Kimberly Thurmond, D.P.M. will conduct a complete examination of your foot and ankle and will most likely order x-rays to see how far the arthritis has progressed. Your medical history will also help the foot doctor determine the type of arthritis that you are suffering from.
Early diagnosis and treatment of arthritis can slow the course of the disease and limit its damage. Your treatment plan will depend on your individual diagnosis. Common options include anti-inflammatory and steroid medications, physical therapy and custom orthotics. If you are experiencing any difficulties with the joints of your feet or ankles, make an appointment for an evaluation at either our Reading office by calling (781) 944-4044.