Arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation and swelling in the joints of the body. It can cause pain in the feet and ankles and make it difficult to walk or do daily activities. Arthritis symptoms can range from mild to severe depending on the area affected and how far along the disease has progressed. There is no cure for arthritis, but there are a variety of treatment options to consider that can help provide relief from the symptoms and get you back on your feet.
Common Symptoms of Arthritis in the Foot and Ankle
Arthritis can affect any joint in the body, including the small joints of the feet and ankles. The cause of arthritis can be age related, the result of normal wear and tear of the foot or ankle joint, due to a past injury or trauma, or due to an inflammatory condition. As the foot or ankle joint wears down, cartilage or soft tissue in the joints may be lost and cause the bones to rub against each other. There are various types of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and psoriatic arthritis.
Arthritis typically causes joint pain, redness, and swelling, but there can be other symptoms as well. Depending on what joint is impacted, arthritis symptoms can vary in each person. It is possible to have more than one joint affected by arthritis at the same time. Many symptoms of arthritis appear gradually and worsen over time.
Some common signs of arthritis in the foot or ankle are:
- Pain or difficulty when walking
- Pain that worsens with activity or worsens after a period of rest
- Pain with moving the joint
- Tenderness when applying pressure to the joint
- Swelling and inflammation
- Stiffness in the foot or ankle joint
- Warmth or redness in the joint
If left untreated, arthritis can worsen and lead to other problems. You may experience difficulty walking or standing, develop a foot deformity, and/or find it challenging to wear shoes.
Treatment Options for Arthritis
If you have symptoms of arthritis in your foot or ankle, consult with a podiatrist for an evaluation. Your podiatrist will recommend treatment options based on your condition and personal needs.
A podiatrist can diagnose arthritis by reviewing your medical and family history and by performing a physical exam of your feet and ankles to check for signs of tenderness and swelling. Your podiatrist may also order imaging tests such as an X-ray or a CT scan or a blood test to confirm the diagnosis. In addition, a gait analysis or bone scan may be done. Once a diagnosis is made, treatment options for arthritis will be discussed.
Treatment for arthritis can vary from person to person based on specific needs and how far the arthritis has progressed. Often, lifestyle changes such as managing your weight or switching to low-impact activities can be helpful in managing arthritis. There are many at-home treatments that can provide relief from the pain of arthritis. Some conservative arthritis treatments that your podiatrist may recommend include:
- Anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling and pain
- Pain relievers
- Cortisone injection into the specific joint
- Ankle brace for joint support
- Custom orthotics to support the foot and ankle
- Specific types of shoes
- Physical therapy exercises and stretches
- Heat or ice
In certain cases where conservative treatments have not been effective or the condition is worsening and affecting the ability to walk, surgery may be required. Your podiatrist will determine if surgery is an option for your condition. There are several types of surgeries for arthritis such as fusion surgery and joint replacement surgery.
Contact Our Office for Help
If you are experiencing signs of arthritis in your foot or ankle or have questions, contact Capital Podiatry Associates to request an appointment with one of our podiatrists. To schedule an appointment in our office or through telemedicine, call us, or fill out our convenient online contact form.