Understanding the Anatomy of our Feet and Ankles
Before understanding how foot arthritis develops, it is important to understand the anatomy of our feet and ankles. When we walk, run, or stand, our feet and ankles provide support, shock absorption, and balance--key components involved in movement. The various bones in our feet and ankles facilitate this movement. Articular cartilage, a smooth tissue, covers these bones to allow the bones to easily glide over each other. Articular cartilage can eventually become damaged due to injury or normal wear and tear, and this damage can lead to painful arthritis in our feet and ankles.
Podiatrists are doctors that have specialized training in the specific complexity of the feet and ankles. Here at San Antonio Podiatry, our podiatrists have served over 205,948 patients to date. Our experienced foot specialists deal with various cases of arthritis in the feet and ankles everyday. Since 1979, our team has provided comprehensive arthritis treatments to patients of all ages seeking relief from foot and ankle pain.
What is Foot Arthritis?
There are three major types of arthritis that affect the foot and ankle:
- Osteoarthritis- Also known as “wear and tear” arthritis, osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones wears away. When the joints in our feet are no longer protected by the articular cartilage, the bones in our joints are no longer able to smoothly glide against each other. Joint motion becomes painful as the bones now glide against unprotected, rough surfaces. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, and typically affects those of middle age.
- Rheumatoid arthritis- This form of arthritis is an autoimmune disease. Rheumatoid arthritis of the foot and ankle develops when the body’s defenses begin to damage the articular cartilage and soften bone structure. Rheumatoid arthritis causes overactivity of the articular cartilage that facilitates an ease of joint movement. This causes inflammation and the destruction of our joints and other ligaments that support the joints, and can lead to joint deformities or stress fractures. Rheumatoid arthritis can also affect other tissues throughout the body. Women are typically more affected by this form of arthritis than men. Symptoms can develop between ages 40-60.
- Post-Traumatic arthritis- Trauma, such as injury, can cause the articular cartilage which protects our joints to wear away. Post-traumatic arthritis can develop following a foot or ankle injury. Injuries that cause damage to the surface of the joints, such as dislocations and fractures, can often lead to post-traumatic arthritis. Even after receiving proper treatment for foot or ankle injuries, damaged joints are at an increased risk of becoming arthritic.
Symptoms of Foot Arthritis
While foot arthritis symptoms may vary, arthritic joints are typically painful and inflamed. Symptoms commonly develop at a gradual rate, but can also occur abruptly. Common symptoms of foot arthritis include the following:
- Pain caused by motion
- Pain caused by vigorous activity
- Joint tenderness
- Increased pain in the morning or after resting
- Joint inflammation, warmth, redness
- Difficulty in walking, running, standing
It is important to recognize and keep track of your symptoms to identify optimal treatment options tailored to your individual needs.
Foot Arthritis Treatment: When to See A Foot Doctor
If foot arthritis is left untreated, it can cause further health concerns and compromise your ability to stand, walk, or run. If you are experiencing symptoms, or have been previously diagnosed, seeking foot arthritis treatment or arthritis in ankle treatment is key to improving your condition and overall well-being. Some additional treatments include:
- Assistive footwear devices- Custom-built orthotics can help ease the pressure and pain you may experience in your foot as a result of foot arthritis and improve mobility. San Antonio Podiatry Associates offers custom orthotics for our patients that are built to address your specific needs. We will evaluate your symptoms, discuss your options, and allow you to be part of the step-by-step process of creating your custom orthotics.
- Physical therapy- Certain exercises targeted towards strengthening the muscles in your foot and ankle can increase your range of motion and flexibility. This can help to relieve stress on arthritic joints. If your condition requires physical therapy treatment, our specialists can refer you to a qualified therapist.
- Foot and ankle reconstruction surgery- Reconstructive surgery will assist in restoring the proper functionality and normal appearance of your foot or ankle. If your condition requires foot or ankle reconstruction surgery, our podiatry team at San Antonio Podiatry has got you covered. With 145 years of combined experience, our team is dedicated to providing you with accurate diagnoses and exceptional care.
What Can You Do? Foot Arthritis Prevention
While there is currently no cure for foot arthritis, you can take action toward relieving your pain by implementing the following activities in your daily routine:
- Wear supportive shoes- The shoes you wear are important. As we enter the Spring season and abandon our winter shoewear, we need to be aware that our choice of shoes can contribute to foot arthritis. If you are experiencing foot arthritis symptoms, avoid unsupportive shoes, such as high-heels, and aim for shoes that have arch support and provide increased stability.
- Stretch achilles tendons- Frequent stretching can indirectly contribute to foot arthritis prevention. By stretching the ligaments and tendons in your foot, you can improve overall mobility and decrease your likelihood of injury. Decreased risk of injury will lower susceptibility of developing arthritic conditions.
- Visit your local podiatrist- Foot arthritis is hard to self-diagnose, and luckily, you do not have to. Come see one of our experienced podiatrists in San Antonio and receive an in-depth evaluation of your condition and explanation of available treatment options.
If you are currently experiencing the pain of foot arthritis, our team at San Antonio Podiatry can help. With over 37 years of experience in patient podiatry services, our office is a great resource for foot care. If you are looking for a foot pain doctor near you, check out our office locations. Book an appointment online with some of the best podiatrists in San Antonio or call 210-405-7672.