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Foot Care for Arthritis Tips

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
  • Orthotics

Your physician may even recommend a combination of those treatments to see what works best for you.

Custom Shoes

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 

Exercise

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.

Self-Care

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

Surgery

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.

Does Repetitive Motion Cause Arthritis?

Arthritis is a very common joint disease that causes pain, inflammation, swelling, and weakness in the joints. Doctors are often asked if repetitive motion causes arthritis

Repetitive motion does not cause every type of arthritis; arthritis actually encompasses more than 100 joint diseases. The most common type of arthritis that can be caused by repetitive motion is osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis Symptoms    

Osteoarthritis (also simply called “arthritis”) is a degenerative joint disease that breaks down the cartilage in joints. Cartilage is a rubbery material that covers the ends of the bones that meet at joints. Cartilage serves as a buffer between the bones and helps them glide against each other, without touching and damaging the ends of the bones.

The cartilage breakdown that is characteristic of arthritis causes pain, swelling, and weakness at the joints. These uncomfortable symptoms are specifically caused by bones that rub against each other without the buffer of cartilage protecting them. 

Repetitive Motion

Repetitive motion is when a person does the same activity or movement repeatedly. Let’s say your hobby is knitting. If you knit for hours every day of the week, you are doing repetitive motion with your hands. This can lead to overuse of your hands (which includes the hand’s joints) and to conditions like osteoarthritis.   

Many jobs require repetitive motion, including those in construction, offices, and manufacturing. Consequently, many workers develop injuries or conditions like arthritis. 

Dealing With Repetitive Motion

Repetitive motion can seem difficult to avoid, especially if you have a job or other commitment that requires it. However, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of injury or development of arthritis from repetitive motion. 

Take Breaks

If you have to do repetitive motion for several hours and cannot avoid it, you can add breaks to your routine. This can help change up the motions your body goes through, allowing your joints to get some rest. Diligently adding breaks to your routine can significantly help reduce the risk of injury caused by repetitive motion.

Use Ergonomic Equipment

Ergonomic furniture and accessories are designed to reduce pressure and strain on the body by optimizing comfort. Using ergonomic furniture like chairs, desks, or standing mats can help reduce strain on your joints. This prevents you from repeatedly doing motions that decrease your body’s comfort level.  

Exercise

If you cannot avoid repetitive motion, you can certainly add exercise to your routine. Exercise helps increase blood flow, strength, and flexibility in your body. Plus, it significantly reduces your risk of injury and conditions like osteoarthritis.

Orthopedists in Colorado

The board-certified physicians at Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence provide total orthopedic care for arthritis patients. Our doctors treat the many forms of arthritis, plus other orthopedic conditions and injuries. 

If you have arthritis or any other musculoskeletal condition, call (719) 623-1050 today to make an appointment. You can also request an appointment online. We look forward to caring for all of your orthopedic needs with our comprehensive team approach.

The 411 on Gout

Gout is a painful form of arthritis, characterized by inflammation that occurs when uric acid builds up and crystalizes in your joints. Symptoms include painful inflammation, tenderness and redness around the affected joint. Some people experience gout in different joints of the body, such as the knees or elbows, but it most commonly effects the big toe.

If you have high levels of uric acid in your blood, you may have a condition called hyperuricemia. Your liver normally metabolizes uric acid, and the kidneys get rid of it when you go to the bathroom. The levels of uric acid build up when not enough uric acid is eliminated, or too much uric acid is being produced. The purines in our food which increases the uric acid levels in our blood, are known to bring on gout attacks.

The uric acid buildup takes a crystalline form, and often finds a home in the joints. Since our joints need to stay lubricated and run very smoothly, a buildup of crystals will cause inflammation and pain, known as gout. When you are experiencing a gout attack, the affected joint will feel hot, swollen, turn red and will become very sensitive to the touch. The onset of pain during a gout attack will increase for 24-48 hours if left untreated.

Blood and urine tests are always recommended by your doctor in order to measure the level of uric acid in your blood. Taking in fluids dilutes the levels of uric acid, so drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day is ideal for breaking down uric acid levels, and as a result gout pain may decrease.

If you are experiencing gout flare-ups, it could be one of a few reasons and risk factors: males over 40 years old, family members with a history of gout, obesity, aspirin medications, a diet consisting of high purine foods or high-fructose drinks. Heavy drinking also contributes to elevated uric acid levels.

More often than not, gout has to do with our diet and what we are eating. It’s best to stay clear of certain foods when you have high uric acid, have had gout attacks in the past or family members that have had it as well. Certain medications can help control uric acid levels, and your orthopedic doctor can recommend the best treatment option for you.

While gout may seem like something that you can manage, it’s best to get it treated right away before inflammation and pain turn into more serious injury or disease. To learn more about gout and how to avoid it, call Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence in Colorado Springs at (719) 623-1050 or request an appointment online.

Cracking Knuckles: Is it bad for you?

Around 25 – 54 percent of people possess the habit of cracking their knuckles. Although a lot of people love cracking their knuckles, the habit is poorly understood. Likewise, many people believe that cracking your knuckles may cause a number of health problems.

Some people, for instance, think that the habit can lead to arthritis. From fingers and toes to necks and knees, everybody knows that someone who is a habitual joint popper. There have been rumors going around that their habit may cause arthritis, but are those rumors true?

Many of your joints, including those that allow your fingers to move and pop feature small pockets, or gaps, that are filled with synovial fluid. Like grease, this fluid allows the bones that have joints to glide close to one another without friction. When you pull, or “crack” a joint, you’re expanding the volume of space between your bones, and this expansion creates negative pressure, which sucks the synovial fluid into the newly created space. This sudden inflow of fluid is the popping you hear and feel when you crack your knuckles.

 So is this bad for your joints? Almost certainly not, as multiple studies have looked into the prevalence of “crackers” among large groups of osteoarthritis patients. They found no evidence that finger pullers and poppers are more likely to suffer from arthritis than those who don’t crack their knuckles. As stated before, there is no medical evidence to support this notion, but as evidence shows, it is possible that cracking knuckles a lot over a long period of time could cause problems like swelling or reduced grip strength.

To find out more information about this non-correlation between cracking your knuckles and arthritis, or another related concern, call Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence at (719) 623-1050 to request an appointment. 

Around 25 – 54 percent of people possess the habit of cracking their knuckles. Although a lot of people love cracking their knuckles, the habit is poorly understood. Likewise, many people believe that cracking your knuckles may cause a number of health problems.

Some people, for instance, think that the habit can lead to arthritis. From fingers and toes to necks and knees, everybody knows that someone who is a habitual joint popper. There have been rumors going around that their habit may cause arthritis, but are those rumors true?

Many of your joints, including those that allow your fingers to move and pop feature small pockets, or gaps, that are filled with synovial fluid. Like grease, this fluid allows the bones that have joints to glide close to one another without friction. When you pull, or “crack” a joint, you’re expanding the volume of space between your bones, and this expansion creates negative pressure, which sucks the synovial fluid into the newly created space. This sudden inflow of fluid is the popping you hear and feel when you crack your knuckles.

 So is this bad for your joints? Almost certainly not, as multiple studies have looked into the prevalence of “crackers” among large groups of osteoarthritis patients. They found no evidence that finger pullers and poppers are more likely to suffer from arthritis than those who don’t crack their knuckles. As stated before, there is no medical evidence to support this notion, but as evidence shows, it is possible that cracking knuckles a lot over a long period of time could cause problems like swelling or reduced grip strength.

To find out more information about this non-correlation between cracking your knuckles and arthritis, or another related concern, call Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence at (719) 623-1050 to request an appointment.