You may be surprised to hear that arthritis can appear in over 100 different forms. One of them, osteoarthritis, tends to be more common the rest. Southern Tier Podiatry will help you recognize osteoarthritis symptoms and learn more about this arthritic condition, so you can know when to see us and get the treatment you deserve.
What It Is
This condition is marked by the breakdown and loss of cartilage in joints. Cartilage is the connective tissue found at the ends of the bones that make up a joint. Cartilage cushions and protects the bones when we move. If cartilage deteriorates or is lost, symptoms develop that can restrict your ability to perform daily activities with ease.
Also referred to as degenerative arthritis, this form usually develops as part of the natural aging process. It is the most common type and affects millions of Americans.
What Causes It
The condition is considered an “overuse” or “wear and tear” disease, because cartilage in the joint tends to wear down over time and with repeated stress and use. As the cartilage breaks down and becomes thinner, bones lose their cushioning and protective covering and eventually rub together, which causes inflammation and pain in the joint.
A trauma injury can also result in osteoarthritis, although it will take many months or even years after the injury for the condition to appear. As an example, when the condition has developed in the big toe, it is often caused by jamming the toe or dropping something heavy on it.
Sometimes the problem is the result of abnormalities in foot structure, such as high arches or flat feet. High arches can be rigid and lack mobility, which causes a jamming of joints that leads to an increased risk of arthritis. Flat feet cause less stability in the ligaments, which then results in excessive strain being placed on the joints that can also cause the condition.
When this condition strikes your foot or ankle, you may experience one or more of the following:
- Pain and stiffness in a joint
- Swelling in or near the affected joint
- Difficulty bending the joint or walking
These can be experienced at varying levels of severity. Some patients with osteoarthritis also develop a bone spur at the affected joint. Shoe pressure on the spur can lead to pain, and in some cases calluses or blisters will form over its surface. Bone spurs can further limit the movement of the affected joint.
To help relieve symptoms, we may begin treating the condition with one or more of the following nonsurgical approaches:
- Oral medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, can be quite helpful in reducing the inflammation and pain. Sometimes a prescription for a steroid medication is necessary to sufficiently reduce symptoms.
- Orthotic devices.Custom orthotic devices are typically prescribed to provide support, improve the foot’s mechanics, or give extra cushioning to help minimize pain.
- Bracing, which curbs motion and supports the affected joint, might reduce pain while walking and prevent further issues.
- Steroid injections. Steroid injections are sometimes administered to the affected joint to deliver anti-inflammatory medication.
- Physical therapy.Exercises to strengthen the muscles, especially when the osteoarthritis occurs in the ankle, may lead to greater stability and prevent injury that could worsen the condition.
When osteoarthritis fails to improve with conservative care, we may recommend surgery. In some advanced cases, surgery is the only option. The goal of surgery is to improve function and decrease pain. Together, we will consider a number of factors when selecting the procedure best suited to your condition and desired outcome.
Treatment for Arthritic Conditions in New York’s Southern Tier
We provide the treatment you need for osteoarthritis here at our Vestal, NY podiatrist office, but we also can take care of pain or issues that stem from other forms such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis as well. Call Southern Tier Podiatry for more information at (607) 217-5668 or schedule an appointment online today to come in and see us.