Arthritis is a painful and potentially debilitating condition that can affect various joints in your body. When it’s present in the feet, it can prevent you from walking and completing your normal daily activities. Here in Kelowna, BC and Victoria, BC, we treat patients of all backgrounds who have arthritis in the foot. While most of them are over the age of 50, younger people with obesity or a genetic predisposition for arthritis sometimes seek out our help.
The condition can also be caused by an injury to the foot. Patients who are worried that they will develop arthritis should speak to their foot doctor to find out which kinds of shoes they should wear, what activities they should avoid, and which stretches are best after long bouts of exercise. Read on to find out more about foot arthritis, its causes, and how it can be prevented.
What Are the Causes of Arthritis in the Foot?
When you no longer have enough cartilage in your joints, you start to feel pain and stiffness. Other symptoms of arthritis include swelling, redness, and difficulty standing. As the condition progresses, you might feel pain even when you’re not moving around. This condition can be caused by a number of factors, but it most commonly happens due to natural wear and tear or because of an injury. Genetics and your weight also play a role.
Natural Wear and Tear
The ankle joint takes a lot of pressure every time we walk, run, or jump, so it’s no wonder that it can develop issues over time. Osteoarthritis affects one in six people over the age of 50, so it’s a very common condition that often occurs because of natural wear and tear. Over the years, the bones and cartilage in our ankles weaken and wear down, and the result is a painful and degenerative condition.
While this issue can happen to anyone, you can take some steps to reduce the chances of getting wear and tear arthritis. Whenever possible, avoid unsupportive shoes such as high heels, flip flops, and sandals. Instead, purchase sturdy footwear that provides stability and arch support. This is especially important if you participate in high-impact exercise such as running, tennis, or basketball, or if you go for long walks.
There are over one hundred kinds of arthritis, and many of them can be passed down through the generations. While osteoarthritis, the most common kind, is usually considered a wear and tear disease, there is no doubt that some families are more prone to it than others. It is not currently known how exactly genetics influence the development of the disease, but most experts agree that people whose parents have arthritis are more likely to develop the disease.
If you have a family history of this condition, you should pay special attention to your joints and make sure you don’t stress them unnecessarily. If possible, consult a foot doctor early in life, so you can make sure that you are walking properly and wearing the correct shoes. When you notice the first indication of arthritis, don’t hesitate to contact a specialist in Victoria, BC or Kelowna, BC. The earlier the disease is caught, the more easily it can be treated.
Sometimes, arthritis is caused by a sudden impact, such as a sports injury. This condition, called post-traumatic arthritis, is common in athletes and other very active people. It can take months or years to develop, and the symptoms are very similar to wear and tear arthritis, so the condition isn’t always associated with a past injury. However, breaking your ankle increases the risk of developing arthritis.
To prevent this issue, visit your foot specialist as soon as you notice you have injured your foot or ankle. They will be able to treat you and help you reduce the chances of a long-term problem. You can also stretch your Achilles tendons every time you walk long distances to prevent them from shortening and cramping up. This decreases your risk of an injury because you will have a greater range of motion.
Being overweight puts a lot of pressure on your bones, especially the small ones in the ankle joints and feet. People who carry around excess weight for many years are much more prone to arthritis due to the extra stress their tissues experience. Because obesity is such a dangerous condition, it’s important to address it as soon as possible.
If you struggle to maintain a healthy weight, you should speak to your primary physician, who can help you develop a weight loss plan. This might include increased levels of exercise and a change in your diet. While you’re losing weight, make sure you wear good shoes when exercising. If in doubt, speak to your foot doctor about the kinds of exercise that are appropriate and the preventative measures you should take, so you don’t stress your ankles too much.
Where Does Foot Arthritis Occur?
Arthritis in the foot can occur in multiple locations, and you should seek out help if you feel pain in any area of the foot. If the arthritis is caused by an injury, it’s often in the joint where your shinbone meets your ankle.
However, it can also happen in the hindfoot, which is where the heel bone, the inner mid-foot bone, and the outer mid-foot bone meet. Additionally, some people experience foot arthritis in their forefoot, which is where the big toe meets the first metatarsal bone.
When to See a Kelowna, BC or Victoria, BC Doctor
As mentioned, you shouldn’t delay seeing your doctor if you believe that you might have foot arthritis. If caught early, the condition can be prevented from progressing with minimally invasive or non-invasive methods. However, if you let it spiral out of control, you might have to undergo surgery, which can take a long time to recover from.
Some of the warning signs to look out for are persistent pain in your foot, swelling, redness, and stiffness. At first, it’s likely that these symptoms will be worse after walking or running, and they will disappear once you’ve rested. Over time, they will start persisting even when you’re at rest.
Treatment Methods for Foot Arthritis
There are many ways of addressing osteoarthritis. When you first seek out help, your foot doctor might tell you to change your footwear and use over-the-counter pain medication. If you’re overweight, you might be asked to lose some weight, since this could significantly reduce the amount of stress that is placed on your joints. Your doctor might suggest replacing running or jumping with low-impact exercise such as swimming and cycling.
People who have an advanced form of arthritis might need to get steroid injections or even have surgery. For example, two bones might need to be fused to eliminate the source of the pain, or an artificial joint might have to be fitted. You should speak to your doctor about this option to find out whether it’s the best solution for you.
Millions of people suffer from arthritis in the foot, a debilitating condition that causes pain, stiffness, swelling, and trouble walking. You might be at risk if you’re over 50 years old, overweight, have a genetic predisposition, or you’ve had an ankle injury in the past. Call or email us at Island Foot Clinics in Kelowna, BC and Victoria, BC to find out more about the condition and to book an appointment with one of our foot specialists.