Pain caused by Arthritis
Arthritis can occur at any age, and literally means "pain within a joint." There is 28 bones and more than 30 joints in the foot. Tough bands of tissue, called ligaments, keep the bones and joints in place. If arthritis develops in one or more of these joints, balance and walking may be difficult and painful. Many forms of arthritis commonly affect the feet:
- Osteoarthritis frequently causes degeneration of the cartilage and bony spurs at the base of the big toe. This is what leads to bunions. With time, the smooth, gliding surface covering the ends of bones (cartilage) becomes worn and frayed. This leads to inflammation, swelling, and pain in the joint. Osteoarthritis evolves slowly and, over time, the pain and stiffness it causes worsens. Risks factors other than age include obesity and family history.
- Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease where the immune system attacks and destroys cartilage. It causes inflammation of the joints at the ball of the foot, which loosens their ligaments and can cause the bone to push against the skin of the bottom of the foot. This can lead to tender calluses and ulcerations at the ball of the foot.
- Post-traumatic arthritis can develop after an injury to the foot or ankle. This type of arthritis is similar to osteoarthritis and may develop years after a fracture, severe sprain, or ligament injury.
- Psoriatic arthritis often strikes joints in the feet, especially the toe joints closest to the nail.
- When this happens, toes often become red and swells into a sausage shape which is typical of psoriatic arthritis of the foot.
- Inflammation in the toe joints may also damage the nail bed, causing nails to be pitted or ridged or peel away from the nail bed.
Depending on the affected joint, signs and symptoms of arthritis of the foot will vary. Usual symptoms include pain or tenderness, stiffness or reduced motion, swelling, difficulty walking, soreness in the sole of the feet or the heel, and deformities of the feet.
Diagnosis is based on medical history, symptoms, a physical examination, and additional tests (for example, X-ray and blood sample).
Treatment for the pain that may be caused by arthritis
There are many types of treatment for the pain that arthritis may cause which depend on the type, location, and severity of the pain that arthritis may cause.
- Medications that help reduce the swelling include pain relievers and anti-inflammatory.
- Shoe inserts (orthotics) which offer balance between cushioning for comfort and rigidity for support are a solution. Shoes with shock-absorbing rubber soles and shoes that will support the heels, arches, and the balls of your feet are good choices.
- Custom-made shoes, such as stiff-soled shoes with a rocker bottom, shoes with extra room in the toe box to accommodate your toes if you have swollen toes, an ankle-foot orthosis, a brace or a cane.
- Physical therapy and exercises which is one of the best ways to reduce symptoms and improve the range of motion in the joints.
- Cold packs on your feet reduce swelling and helps maintain and improve flexibility and range of motion.
- Weight control or nutritional supplements.
- Medications, such as a steroid medication injected into the joint.
- Surgery if arthritis does not respond to nonsurgical treatments.