04 Jul Arthritis
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis in feet is painful, disabling and in some cases crippling affliction that affects over 40 million Americans. It is characterized by inflammation and swelling of the cartilage and lining that makes up the joints, and occasionally by increased fluid in the joints. The feet are particularly susceptible to arthritis due to the fact that there are 33 joints in each foot and it is almost impossible to avoid the pain of the tremendous weight-bearing load that the feet encounter day in and day out. Arthritis in feet can result in a loss of movement and independence, but these instances can be avoided with early diagnosis and proper medical care by a podiatry professional, such as Dr. Norvell at Podiatric Physicians of Georgia.
What Causes Arthritis?
Some forms of arthritis in feet appear to be hereditary, though the ailment can also be caused by injuries that have been ignored over time, bacterial and viral infections, a component of bowel disorders, use of drugs or as part of a congenital autoimmune disease syndrome.
Symptoms of Arthritis
If you experience swelling, recurring pain, loss of motion, redness or heat in one or more of your joints, you may be afflicted with arthritis in your feet. You may also have the disorder if you have limited motion in one or more joints, early morning stiffness and if you experience skin changes, such as redness or growths. At the first sign of these symptoms, you should make an appointment with our podiatrist immediately to look at your feet and check for signs of arthritis.
Types of Arthritis
The most common form of arthritis in feet is called degenerative joint disease or wear and tear arthritis. It can be brought on by a sudden injury, but its onset is usually gradual. As a person ages, their cartilage breaks down and the pain can become progressively worse. Patients who experience this form of arthritis in feet usually experience a dull, throbbing nighttime pain that may be accompanied by muscle weakness and deterioration. In some cases, the person’s walk may be erratic. It is particularly troublesome in overweight people. With so many joints in the foot, the extra weight can contribute to a rapid deterioration of cartilage and the development of bone spurs.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Considered a crippling disorder, RA is the most serious form of arthritis. It is a complex disorder that affects more than a dozen smaller joints over the course of the disease. It typically occurs in a symmetrical pattern, such as in both ankles or in both hands. It is typically accompanied by morning stiffness, fatigue, and weight loss, and may even affect the body’s internal systems, such as the heart, lungs and nervous system. Considered to have a more acute onset than osteoarthritis, RA is characterized by long periods of remission followed by exacerbation. The latter is usually marked by a severe return of inflammation, stiffness, pain, and loss of motion. In rare cases, arthritis in feet remains active for months or years and then abates permanently. Women are three to four times more susceptible to RA than men.
Gout (gouty arthritis)
This extremely painful condition is caused by a buildup of dietary salts in the joints. It usually affects the big toe, possibly because we use it so heavily when walking, and is typically more painful than any other form of arthritis in the feet. Men are more likely to be affected than women, and this indicates that heredity may play a vital role in the disease. We usually associate gout with a diet heavy in things like red meat, red wine, and shellfish, but protein compounds in lentils and beans are also thought to play a role.
A Proper Diagnosis is Necessary To Identify the Type of Arthritis
If you are experiencing pain, stiffness, excessive warmth around the joints, schedule an appointment at Podiatric Physicians of Georgia at your earliest convenience. Arthritis may be treated in several ways, but only a qualified, professional podiatrist should diagnose and treat such a complex disease. For more information about arthritis or to make an appointment, or call us today.