In recognition of World Arthritis Day, the staff of Foot & Ankle Associates of Cleveland offers this easy-to-digest list of facts about foot and ankle arthritis and how to ease the pain.
Facts About Foot and Ankle Arthritis
- The most common form of arthritis to affect the feet is called osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the physical breakdown of the soft tissues within a joint. That soft tissue, called cartilage, is there to protect connecting bones from rubbing against each other. When the protective cartilage gets too thin or breaks down entirely over time, bones crunch together rather than glide easily. This painful condition often occurs at the base of the big toe. It can also affect the bones in other parts of the foot and ankle, causing swelling and stiffness.
- Several contributing factors can lead to osteoarthritis: the normal wear-and-tear associated with aging; obesity, which puts added stress on the joints of the feet and ankles; repeated stress; previous injury, especially one that didn’t heal well; biomechanical issues such as joints that never quite lined up correctly; and, a genetic predisposition (arthritis runs in your family).
- Symptoms of osteoarthritis include swelling, redness, tenderness, stiffness, pain, narrow range of motion in the affected joint, and difficulty walking.
- Bone spurs are a common complication of osteoarthritis, causing additional pain and inflammation.
- Early diagnosis and treatment are essential. By definition, osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease so it will get worse. But pain can be managed and degeneration can be slowed down through physical therapy, bracing, icing, massage, anti-inflammatory medication, and custom orthotics.
- Surgery can help if more conservative treatments aren’t working. Consult our expert podiatric surgeons Dr. Megan L. Oltmann and Dr. Craig B. Frey, to see if joint cleaning, joint fusion, or total ankle replacement are options for your particular case. We welcome residents of Portage, Geauga, Summit, and Cuyahoga Counties to our modern office in Solon, Ohio. For relief from the pain of osteoarthritis, call (440) 903-1041 or make an appointment online.