A couple weeks ago on October 12th, the Arizona Institute of Footcare Physicians recognized World Arthritis Day. While Arthritis Awareness Month is not until May, we would like to share more information on how arthritis affects the feet.
Arthritis, characterized by inflammation and swelling of the soft tissues and lining of the joints, afflicts 50 million Americans. Every joint in the body is susceptible to arthritis, the foot and its composition of 33 joints is a common target. “Arthritic feet can interfere with active lifestyles, limiting mobility and independence,” says Kerry Zang DPM, a Mesa podiatric surgeon. “The disabling effects of arthritis can often be avoided through early diagnosis and appropriate medical care.” Dr. Zang stresses early diagnosis as key to effective treatment of arthritis. If the inflammation from arthritis isn’t treated, both soft tissue and cartilage can be damaged and destruction of the cartilage may be irreversible.
Arthritic symptoms generally include swelling and pain or tenderness in one or more joints for more than two weeks, redness or heat in a joint, limitation of motion of a joint, early morning stiffness, and skin changes, including rashes. Symptoms do vary according to the form of arthritis and there are more than 100 different forms.
Among the most recognized forms are:
• Osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease (wear and tear), the most common form which results in lost of cartilage between joints so you feel “bone on bone” crunching and pain.
• Rheumatoid arthritis, a complex, chronic inflammatory disease that can be crippling
• Gout, a condition caused by elevation of uric acid levels in the joints – sometimes a by-product of diet.
• Psoriatic arthritis, an inflammatory arthritis associated with psoriasis.
“Most forms of arthritis cannot be cured, but can be controlled and brought into remission,” he says. ” Arthritis treatment involves controlling inflammation and preserving joint function (or restoring it). Surgery is indicated in end-stage arthritic condition,” says Dr. Zang. Traditional treatment methods include anti-inflammatories, pain medication, shoe inserts called orthotics that help with off-loading the joints affected, and physical therapy and exercise.
In addition to the traditional treatments, Dr. Zang points out that there are new advancements in treatment for arthritis. There has also been preliminary success with different types of injections into the joints to repair the cartilage and joint structures. It is important to coordinate care between the patient’s Rheumatologist or Primary Care Physician and the Specialist.” Another critical aspect to the treatment of arthritis is patient education and involvement,” says Dr. Zang. “It is so important for patients to be active in their care, patients shouldn’t try to ignore their condition.”
For more information on arthritis, you can visit www.arthritis.org, the website of the Arthritis Foundation. If you or someone you know are having pain in your feet related to arthritis, please call our office at 480-834-8804 or visit www.azfeet.com.