What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a condition that slowly wears away joints (the link where bones meet and move).
Signs Of Arthritis
One of the ﬁrst signs of arthritis you may notice is that the affected joint seems stiff and/or achy. As the joint lining or cartilage breaks down, the bones rub against each other, causing pain and swelling. Over time, bone spurs (small pieces of rough or splintered bone) develop, and the joint’s range of motion becomes limited. However, movement doesn’t necessarily have to cause pain. Arthritis is common in the feet. When you think about it, your feet constantly pound the pavement each day. They support and move your body weight as you move through life. Such constant use takes a toll. Aging, daily wear and tear, and injury are the common causes of arthritis. It is no wonder why many people eventually develop arthritis in their feet. Arthritis is also most likely to develop near the site of an old injury. One common point affected by arthritis is the big toe joint. When arthritis affects your big toe, your foot hurts when it pushes off the ground. Arthritis often appears in the big-toe joint along with a bunion (a bony bump at the side of the joint). Arthritis can also affect the rear or midfoot joints. When arthritis affects these areas, you may feel pain when you put weight on your foot. Arthritis may also affect the joint where the foot and ankle meet or may affect other joints nearby.
The podialrists at Foot Centers of NC are highly skilled in treating arthritis. By examining the feet, your podiatrist is able to identify the cause of your joint problem. And, by moving a joint back and forth your doctor can evaluate how smoothly a joint works. He will also examine your feet for skin changes and swelling. Your podiatrist may also conduct an imaging test to check the condition of a joint. X-rays show damage to the bone, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can show damage to the joint lining. If your symptoms are mild, medications may be enough to reduce pain and swelling. Your podiatrist may prescribe medication or give you an injection to relieve your pain. Ice, aspirin, or ibuprofen may help relieve mild symptoms that occur after activity. Surgery is rarely needed for arthritis. Usually, non-steroidal anti-inﬂammatory medication, injections and/or orthotics will control the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis. When Surgery Is Needed For more severe arthritis, surgery may be needed to improve the condition of the joint. To ease movement and reduce pain, your doctor may trim damaged bone. If arthritis is severe, the joint may be fused or removed. If the bone has not been damaged too badly, your doctor may simply shave away bone spurs. Any excess growth related to a bunion may also be trimmed. If damage is more severe, your doctor may fuse the joint to prevent the bones from rubbing together. Afterward, staples or screws may hold the bones in place so they heal properly.
In some cases, the joint may be removed and replaced with an implant for surgery on the big toe, your foot may be splinted to limit movement for several weeks. However, you should be able to walk soon after surgery. For surgery on rear or midfoot joints, you may need to wear a cast or surgical shoe. Since these joints are fairly large, full recovery may take a few months. Once the bone has healed, any staples or screws may be removed. Be sure to follow up with your podiatrist as scheduled and follow all recovery instructions to ensure that your foot heals properly.