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Arthritis can be confusing | What are the different types? | Find Your Stride

Introduction

Arthritis is a term used to describe a range of conditions that cause joint inflammation and pain. There are various types of arthritis, with some affecting the feet more than other joints in the body. In this post, we will discuss the different types of arthritis that can affect the feet and the available treatment options.


Types of Arthritis That Affect Feet

1. Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and occurs when the cartilage that cushions the joints wears away. This condition can lead to bone rubbing against bone, causing pain, swelling, and stiffness. Osteoarthritis can affect any joint in the body,

including the feet.


2. Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes the body's immune system to attack its own tissues, including the joints. Inflammation can cause joint deformity, pain, and stiffness. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect the feet, causing swelling and pain in the balls of the feet or toe joints.


3. Gout:

Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs when there is an excess of uric acid in the body, leading to the formation of crystals in the joints. The big toe joint is often affected, causing severe pain, swelling, and redness. Gout can also affect other joints in the feet.


4. Psoriatic Arthritis:

Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis that develops in people with psoriasis, a skin condition that causes red, scaly patches on the skin. The arthritis can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints, including those in the feet.


Treatment Options

1. Medications:

Anti-inflammatory drugs such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce pain and inflammation in the joints. In severe (rheumatoid) cases, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biologics may be prescribed.


2. Physical Therapy:

Physical therapy can help improve joint function and reduce pain. A physical therapist can recommend exercises to strengthen the feet and improve range of motion.


3. Foot Orthoses:

Foot orthoses can be very helpful to alleviate pain and improve function. It isn't always appropriate to use them long term for arthritis however, in some cases they can make a huge difference to an individual's mobility.


4. Surgery:

In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair or replace damaged joints. This may include joint fusion, joint replacement, or osteotomy (cutting of bone).


5. Lifestyle Changes:

Lifestyle changes such as losing weight, reducing alcohol consumption, and quitting smoking can help improve joint health and reduce the risk of arthritis-related complications.


Conclusion

Our feet are essential for mobility and stability, and arthritis can have a significant impact on quality of life. Identifying the type of arthritis and implementing an appropriate treatment plan can help reduce pain, improve joint function, and prevent further damage. Podiatrists are best placed to assess patients with suspected arthritis affecting the foot, in most cases an accurate and early diagnosis is essential.


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