Are you experiencing discomfort in your feet or ankles? It is estimated that by 2040, over 78 million adults in the United States will have arthritis, emphasizing the need to manage this condition effectively. Arthritis can significantly impact your daily life, especially as we age.

So, what is arthritis, and how does it affect the intricate structures of the foot and ankle? What are the telltale signs of foot and ankle arthritis? At Celebration Foot & Ankle, we understand how consistent pain can be debilitating, particularly when it affects mobility. Keep reading to learn more about foot and ankle arthritis.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a group of over 100 diseases that cause joint inflammation. This inflammation leads to pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joint and the surrounding tissues. Arthritis can be acute or chronic and can lead to progressive joint deterioration. The protective cartilage between bones gradually wears away, causing bones to rub against each other. The most prevalent type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which can develop due to aging, joint damage, obesity, genetics, and joint anatomy.

How Does Arthritis Affect the Foot and Ankle?

In each foot, there are 28 bones and over 30 joints. Arthritis commonly impacts several key foot joints, including:

  • The joint where the ankle connects with the shinbone.
  • The trio of joints comprises the heel bone, the inner mid-foot bone, and the outer mid-foot bone.
  • The joint connects the big toe to the foot bone.

What Are the Symptoms of Foot and Ankle Arthritis?

Symptoms commonly associated with foot and ankle arthritis include:

  • Tenderness or pain.
  • Decreased mobility or difficulty walking.
  • Joint stiffness.
  • Swelling in the affected joint.

How is Foot and Ankle Arthritis Diagnosed?

Diagnosing foot and ankle arthritis typically involves a comprehensive medical history, a physical examination, and diagnostic tests such as X-rays. Your healthcare provider will assess your symptoms, medical history, and imaging results to formulate an accurate diagnosis and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Foot and Ankle Arthritis Management and Treatment

How is Foot and Ankle Arthritis Treated Without Surgery?

Treating foot and ankle arthritis offers various non-surgical options, such as:

  • Managing weight to reduce joint stress.
  • Utilizing custom-made shoes or orthotics for support.
  • Using inserts to stabilize the ankle and foot.
  • Employing braces to support affected joints.
  • Relieving pressure on joints with a cane or walker.
  • Engaging in physical therapy to improve joint mobility and strength.
  • Taking anti-inflammatory medications to alleviate swelling.
  • Using pain relievers for discomfort management.
  • Consider steroid injections into the affected joints for targeted relief.

What Surgical Treatments Can Help Treat Foot and Ankle Arthritis?

Treatment for foot and ankle arthritis may require multiple surgical approaches tailored to your specific condition. Your doctor will determine the most suitable surgery based on the type and severity of your arthritis. Here are some surgical options:

  • Arthroscopic surgery: Effective in the early stages of arthritis, arthroscopic surgery involves inserting a small instrument called an arthroscope into the joint. This device projects images onto a monitor, allowing the surgeon to visualize and address issues within the joint using miniature tools like forceps, knives, and shavers. Arthroscopic surgery can remove foreign tissues or bone spurs from the joint.
  • Fusion surgery (arthrodesis): This procedure involves fusing bones using rods, pins, screws, or plates. After healing, the fused bones remain permanently joined, stabilizing the affected joint.
  • Joint replacement surgery: Reserved for rare cases, joint replacement surgery entails replacing the damaged ankle joint with artificial implants.

If you’re struggling with foot or ankle discomfort, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with one of our foot and ankle surgeons at Celebration Foot & Ankle Institute. Take the first step towards better foot and ankle health today.

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