Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints. When our joints become inflamed, it can cause pain, tenderness, swelling, and stiffness.
Arthritis in the feet and ankles can be especially painful and bothersome, affecting how we walk and function on a daily basis. While there are many different types of arthritis, there are three types that most often cause foot and ankle pain.
These types of arthritis are osteoarthritis (known as just “arthritis,” or wear-and-tear/aging arthritis), rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune disease), and post-traumatic arthritis (caused by an injury or fracture).
How Arthritis Affects the Feet and Ankles
Our feet each have more than 30 joints – many of them are tiny. The joints in our feet that are most commonly affected by arthritis are:
- The joint where the ankle and shin bone meet
- The joint where the big toe meets the foot bone
- The joints connecting to the heel bone, inner mid-foot bone, and outer mid-foot bone
Symptoms of foot and ankle arthritis can include trouble walking or weight-bearing.
Ways to Care for Your Feet
If you’ve been diagnosed with foot and ankle arthritis, there are several treatment options available. Let’s talk about these different options and what they entail.
Nonsurgical Treatment Options for Foot Arthritis
Your doctor may try several things before deciding on surgery. Nonsurgical treatment options include:
- Steroids injected into the joint
- Anti-inflammatories and pain relievers
- Physical therapy
- Weight control
- Joint-supporting canes
- Foot/ankle braces
- Arch supports
Your physician may even recommend a combination of those treatments to see what works best for you.
Perhaps the most important way to care for your feet and ankles if you have arthritis is to wear shoes that are comfortable, supportive, and properly sized for your feet. When searching, you should ensure that the shoes you buy:
- Have good heel counter and arch support
- Have extra cushioning in the mid-soles and outer-soles
- Have nonslip outsoles
- Are flexible
- Can be worn with padded socks (without feeling too tight)
- Have rubber soles
- Are shaped like your feet
- Are not slip-ons or high heels
If you’re suffering from foot and ankle osteoarthritis, the last thing you may want to hear is that you should exercise. However, believe it or not, exercise can help relieve pain in your feet.
Exercise can also help keep your feet and ankles strong and flexible. Your orthopedist or physical therapist can show you exercises that can help with your foot and ankle arthritis, such as big-toe stretches, toe pulls, toe curls, and Achilles stretches.
When it comes to your body, no one knows it better than you do. As such, there are self-care steps you can do to help keep your feet healthy in order to control your foot and ankle arthritis, including:
- Daily foot inspections
- Daily foot washes with lukewarm water (be sure to completely dry off your feet afterward)
- Avoiding exposure by always wearing shoes
- Not cutting your own toenails
- Not cutting or filing corns, calluses, or other foot protrusions
- Not using harsh chemicals on your feet (such as wart removers)
- Staying active to maintain good circulation
If other treatment methods have not proven effective to treat your foot and ankle arthritis, your orthopedist may recommend surgery.
This can include fusion surgery, which involves fusing bones together using screws, pins, rods, and/or plates. Another type of surgery is joint replacement surgery, which involves replacing all or part of the arthritic joint with an artificial implant (prosthesis).
Orthopedists in Colorado Springs
Is your foot arthritis getting you down? The board-certified doctors at Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence are here to help you care for your arthritis and any orthopedic issues you may have. We pride ourselves in providing the best care possible and delivering that care with compassion and respect.
Call us today at (719) 623-1050 to request a consultation, or use our online appointment request form right now. We look forward to helping you live a more active lifestyle with less pain, so you can get back to the life you love.