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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.

Do You Need to Have Bunions Removed?

A bunion is a rather common deformity of the foot. Bunions most often occur in females and usually are caused by wearing high-heeled shoes or shoes that are too tight, pointed, or narrow. Bunions can also be hereditary. Medical conditions like osteoarthritis can also contribute to the formation of a bunion. Most people who have bunions simply resign themselves that they are a part of life, surely unsightly and sometimes painful, but far from a medical emergency. But what if the bunions become too painful or make it hard to do the things you love to do? Do you need to have your bunions removed?

How Do Bunions Form?

Bunions occur when pressure causes the bones at the base of the big toe to become misaligned. Over time, this pressure causes the base of the big toe to become enlarged and sometimes even filled with fluid.  This causes a large and often painful bump to form at the joint on the side of the foot, near the big toe. In addition to the bunion itself, the skin at the bottom of your foot can also thicken, causing painful calluses to form. The bunion and the calluses can make it difficult and painful to walk, wear shoes, or even bend your toes. In addition to being painful, a bunion can make your foot look deformed or awkward by forcing your big toe to lean towards your second toe, and the other toes lean into or overlap each other.

Treatment Options

To diagnose a bunion, your doctor will review your medical history, and examine and take x-rays of your foot. The x-rays show the doctor the alignment and condition of the bones in your foot. If the doctor determines that you indeed have a bunion, there are several treatment options available, which include:

Changing shoes:  Sometimes simply changing to a wider or properly fitting shoe with a lower heel can alleviate the pain and may help treat the bunion.

Protective padding:  Wearing foam or felt pads – sometimes called spreaders – between your toes or on your foot can help protect the foot from further callousing and force the bones to realign over time.

Shoe inserts:  A foot specialist can create custom-made inserts, often called orthotics, that can properly position your toes to relieve the pressure and pain.

When Surgery Becomes an Option

Surgery becomes a valid option when the above non-surgical treatments provide little relief to restore the alignment of the bones, tendons, joints, nerves, and ligaments.  During surgery, the toes are placed in their proper positions and the bump is removed, thereby relieving pain and restoring function over time. There are many different surgical techniques for treating bunions, most of which yield excellent results.

Is It Necessary to Have Surgery to Remove Bunions?

The choice to remove bunions surgically is a personal one. If your bunion is not painful and doesn’t bother you, then you may opt not to get surgery. However, bunions do get bigger with time. If you’ve tried non-surgical treatments and they did not help your pain, or if your bunion has become so large that it impedes your daily activities, then you may want to speak to your doctor about surgery. Many people find that the pain from bunions is so severe or that their foot is so severely deformed that the benefits of having the bunions removed far outweigh any negatives.  Many patients report a big improvement in quality of life after having their bunions removed.

Is your bunion getting in the way of your life? The board-certified podiatric surgeons at Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence specialize in treating foot and ankle conditions such as bunions. We ensure the best patient care possible, combined with compassion and respect.  If you have any questions, or to schedule an appointment, call (719) 623-1050 or use our online form to request an appointment online.

Should I See a Sports Medicine Specialist?

Any medical condition that does not improve with appropriate measures while compromising daily activities requires attention. Making the right choice of physician, whether family practice doctor or specialist, is an important decision in dealing with any illness or injury.

Participating in sports often causes aches and pains or an injury that needs proper diagnosis and treatment. A sports medicine specialist has medical education and training in family, internal, emergency, or rehabilitation medicine, and has pursued additional sports medicine training.

Sports medicine specialists center their therapies on bone, joint, and muscle care. They understand an athlete’s goals and focus on improving athletic performance, recovery from injury, maintaining peak physical fitness, and preventing future injuries. A sports medicine specialist can be a physician, surgeon, or another type of specialist, like a nutritionist or physical therapist. Primary care sports medicine physicians are specially trained for the total care of athletes and active individuals.

Who Should See a Sports Medicine Specialist

People injured while playing sports may see their family practice doctor to have an injury evaluated. At this point, their treatment approach will probably be the same as might be provided by a sports medicine specialist: RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) along with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories if needed.

If there is no improvement within a couple weeks, an MRI may be ordered for further evaluation. At this point, you may be referred to a specialist, for their expertise in determining the most appropriate treatment based on the specifics of the injury.

Sports medicine specialists treat acute and chronic injuries – and focus on helping patients prevent future injuries while enhancing their athletic performance through safe strength training, conditioning exercises, and workouts. They evaluate the need for surgery and apply sports psychology principles and therapies.

Injuries treated by sports medicine specialists include:

  • Concussions
  • Dislocations
  • Fractures
  • Joint injuries
  • Sprains and Strains
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Overuse and Training Injuries
  • Tendonitis
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)

Care provided by these specialists may include preseason examinations and “return to play” recommendations as a part of a rehabilitation plan.

Types of Sports Medicine Specialists

There are a wide variety of sports medicine specialists available to treat a variety of concerns, including:

Certified Athletic Trainers are skilled professionals who work exclusively with athletes. They help decide which injuries require specialist attention and can make necessary referrals.

Orthopedists & Orthopedic Surgeons focus on bone and joint problems. They have several years of residency and fellowships beyond their internships. Approximately 90 percent of sports injuries are nonsurgical in nature. When surgery is required, orthopedic surgeons specialize in areas such as back surgery, joint replacement, and ACL repairs.

Physical Therapists treat injuries based on a clinical diagnosis. They often specialize in sports medicine and orthopedics. They integrate training, rehabilitation and injury recovery.

Podiatrists are clinicians with residency training focused on musculoskeletal problems exclusively below the knee. Their clients are runners, joggers, or sports people who often injure their feet or ankles. Biomechanical analysis, normal gait assessment, and prescribing orthotics are their other areas of expertise.

Improving with Sports Medicine

Whether you’re a novice to athletics or want to get to the next performance level, a sports medicine specialist can formulate a comprehensive blueprint that can take you to the peak of athletic performance.

The Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence has served as official doctors for the U.S. Olympic team, as well as nonprofessional sports patients. For award-winning orthopedic and sports medicine treatment, visit The Center online at www.ccoe.us or call (719) 623-1050.