May is National Arthritis Awareness Month and here at Gentle Professional Foot Care we want to inform our patients about this potentially disabling disease and what can be done to lessen its painful symptoms.
The term “arthritis” refers to over 100 different diseases that can affect your joints. Since you have 33 joints in each foot, people with arthritis may experience significant pain and discomfort in their feet and ankles. This disease has a widespread impact. Consider the following:
·Approximately 53 million adults in our country have been diagnosed with arthritis and that figure is expected to increase to 67 million by the year 2030.
·Nearly 300,000 infants, children and teens have an arthritic condition.
·Arthritis is the top cause of disability in America.
·On average, arthritis is the reason for 172 million missed days of work annually.
·Nearly 1 million hospitalizations are the result of arthritis.
Telltale Signs and Treatments
Although symptoms may vary somewhat between the different types of arthritis, in general patients with the disease experience one or more of the following: joint pain and stiffness (which is often worse first thing in the morning), limited range of motion or flexibility of joints and swelling in or near the joint.
Our podiatrist, Dr. Charles A. Suleskey, will want to examine your foot or ankle to check for signs of swelling and how far you are able to bend and flex your feet. X-rays may also be ordered to see how far the condition has progressed and to use for comparison to monitor future changes.
In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, your treatment will be more extensive and most likely require a referral to a rheumatoid specialist as well. For “wear and tear” arthritis (osteoarthritis), the most common kind, the foot doctor has a number of treatment options including:
·Oral medication and steroid injections for pain and inflammation
·Immobilization, if the inflammation is severe and the foot needs complete rest
·Physical therapy and exercise to increase range of motion and strengthen muscles that support the joints
·Orthotic devices to cushion and reposition the foot to decrease pain and pressure
·Bracing to support the joint and limit movement to prevent further damage