Arthritis in feet affects one or more joints causing stiffness and foot joint pain. The small joints of the feet and ankle are most affected by more than one form of arthritis attack. There might not be a cure for arthritis but the management options available relieve symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. With proper treatment, one can manage their pain and remain active.
How arthritis affects the feet
- Gout affects the feet, especially the big toe.
- Osteoarthritis affects the MTP joint (Metatarsophalangeal joint). This joint connects the big toe to the foot. This type of arthritis can affect the ankle and the midfoot.
- Psoriatic arthritis feet cause sausage-like swelling also known as dactylitis. It is accompanied by inflammation of the entheses where ligaments and tendons attach to the bones. This condition presents the symptom of plantar fasciitis which is the inflammation of the band tissue between the heel bone to the toes. It can cause bone spurs which cause pain when pressed or rubbed against other soft tissues and bones.
- Rheumatoid arthritis feet affect both feet and the same joints in each foot. It differs from osteoarthritis which affects one joint and can affect one foot.
- Ankylosing spondylitis mimics plantar fasciitis and causes pain in the Achilles tendon.
Management of arthritis of the feet
After the Houston podiatrist establishes the cause of your pain then you need management strategies to ease stiffness, pain, and swelling.
- Take pain meds
There are medics available over-the-counter and prescriptions. The non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are used for reducing pain, redness, and swelling associated with arthritis. The meds play a role in blocking the chemicals that cause pain and inflammation. It is always advisable to get prescribed meds so that you get meds that are less likely to cause side effects.
- Change your footwear
The shoes you wear can help or hurt you. Foot-friendly shoes should properly fit to accommodate arthritic joints with stiffness and swelling. Arthritis of the feet might be accompanied by hammertoes or bunions. Proper footwear should have cushioning, arch support, thick soles, shock absorption, and heel cups.
- Lose some weight
When we talk of arthritis, your weight matters. With higher body weight, arthritis gets severe and obesity makes it worse. Excess body weight increases inflammation and pain but the loss of weight has been shown to dramatically diminish joint pain and improve tolerance.
- Exercise more
Sometimes it is hard for healthy people to maintain an exercise program, so for people suffering from joint pain, it is harder. Research shows that moderate regular exercise helps maintain joint function by relieving stiffness and fatigue and reducing pain. Any movement counts so aim to be as active as possible. Choose to walk if possible instead of driving.
- Icing and heating
Some people believe inicing as an anti-inflammatory tactic, while some prefer using heat. Each works differently to bring pain relief. Icing constricts the blood vessels surrounding muscles, decreasing blood flow to the joints and reducing inflammation and swelling. On the other hand, heating loosens the muscles to decrease spasms and reduce joint stiffness. Both treatments interrupt pain signals to the brain.