Treatment Options for Foot & Ankle Arthritis

According to the CDC, 23% of American adults (about 54 million people) suffer from arthritis, and 24 million of them have to limit or modify their daily activities to compensate for pain. Degenerative arthritis, the kind brought on by wear and tear over many years, is also called osteoarthritis. This occurs when cartilage breaks down between joints, restricting movement.

Older adults are more susceptible to osteoarthritis though injuries to joints at any age can increase your risk. Without treatment, osteoarthritis will continue to progress as the joints deteriorate. In the foot and ankle, this can become a huge problem considering we use those joints frequently and they’re important to our overall health.

In the early stages of foot and ankle arthritis, symptoms will be mild and only minorly inconvenient. During the advanced stages of the disease, symptoms can become debilitating with significant activity modifications necessary. 

Symptoms of osteoarthritis include:

  • Pain at or near a joint
  • Swelling and tenderness
  • Tingling
  • Weakness
  • Stiffness of the joint leading to a limited range of motion

The most common places osteoarthritis appears in the foot are in the big toe, the mid-foot bone, and where the ankle meets the shinbone. Not only are these joints used frequently, but they are also commonly injured during sports or exercise. This can increase your risk for osteoarthritis.

Treatments for Osteoarthritis

The earlier foot and ankle arthritis is diagnosed, the more likely a conservative course of treatment will work to minimize further progression and reduce pain. Some common starting treatments include:

  • Custom orthotics to correct any underlying structural issues
  • Braces to help support the joint
  • Physical therapy and low-impact exercise

But osteoarthritis requires more changes than these. Treatment plans need to be comprehensive and cover aspects such as:

  • Pain management techniques including cortisone injections
  • Lifestyle changes such as maintaining a better diet or losing weight

If conservative treatments fail to reduce pain and stop the progression of the disease, a surgical joint replacement may be necessary. Your foot and ankle surgeon will help determine which procedure is right for your case.

Osteoarthritis can be a debilitating disease, but it doesn’t have to be. Talk to your foot and ankle provider today to discuss your risks, get an evaluation, or begin a treatment plan.

Leave a reply