Arthritis in the feet


Osteoarthritis in the Feet
Osteoarthritis (OA) is commonly called the ‘wear and tear’ arthritis.  It usually appears in people over 40 when the cartilage between bones has become worn and is no longer cushioning the joint as well as it used to.
OA affects joints that have been under pressure and is common in feet, especially in the joint at the base of the big toe.
What are the symptoms of Osteoarthritis in the feet?
The big toe joint is the site most commonly affected by osteoarthritis, but any of the joints in your feet can be affected. Many people notice changes in the arch structure of their feet as they get older, and mild arthritis in the arch area is common. Osteoarthritis is less common in the ankle.  Pain, stiffness and a reduction in movement are common symptoms of OA.
What are the causes of Osteoarthritis in the feet?
The cause of OA itself is not fully understood, though the general consensus is that some people are genetically predisposed to getting the disease.  Factors that cause the disease to arise in the foot include; obesity which puts extra strain on the joints, activities that involve repetitive movements of a certain joint and previous damage to the joint, such as from a sports injury.
What should I do if I have Osteoarthritis in the feet?
A physical examination by a podiatrist is advisable to identify the severity of the condition and to decide on any conservative treatment that may help the problem.  A referral for surgical intervention is sometimes required.  Recognising activities that worsen the condition is important and it may be advisable to avoid these.
What shouldn’t I do if I have Osteoarthritis?
This condition worsens over time, steps need to be taken to avoid things that aggravate the problem, for example, being overweight puts excessive strain on the joints, as does intense types of activity.  High heeled, narrow footwear should be avoided as these place significant stress on joints.
Could there be any long term effects of Osteoarthritis?
In the long term, OA in the feet can produce worsening pain, loss of mobility, and sometimes make walking difficult, or impossible. As a result, depression may accompany this condition.  Surgical intervention may be necessary if conservative treatment alone is not enough to manage the condition.
Podiatry treatment for Osteoarthritis
A podiatrist can take care of any corns and callus you may be suffering from on your feet.  Orthotics (shoe inserts) can be provided which help the foot to function more efficiently and reduce pressure over certain ‘at risk’ areas.  Cushioning shoe insoles can be provided to provide more comfort for the affected joints.  Advice regarding the most suitable footwear can be provided.

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