Arthritis of the Foot & Ankle

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What is Arthritis of the Foot & Ankle?

Arthritis in general is a condition that causes painful inflammation inside of your joints, which can reduce function and cause pain in your everyday movement. When arthritis impacts your foot and ankle, the joints in these vital areas don’t work as well as they normally do, causing stiffness, swelling, and pain.

Who Does Arthritis of the Foot & Ankle Affect?

While arthritis is commonly associated with older patients, this condition can actually impact patients of any age. Of the 100+ forms of arthritis, many of them impact the foot and ankle; there are over 30 joints in this area that could potentially develop arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is a common form of the condition that can impact the foot and ankle. Also known as “wear and tear” arthritis, osteoarthritis is most commonly seen in older patients, as well as those with a family history of the condition.

Rheumatoid and posttraumatic arthritis can also impact the ankle and the foot. Both of these forms of arthritis can arise at any age and do not have a known cure.

What are the Symptoms of Foot & Ankle Arthritis?

Depending on which joint is being affected, foot and ankle arthritis symptoms can vary greatly. In most cases, pain develops gradually over an extended period of time, although it is also possible that pain can come on suddenly.

Foot and ankle arthritis is largely characterized by pain with motion of the joints or pain that gets worse with vigorous activity. Those with arthritis may also feel tenderness in the joint when pressure is applied.

Other common symptoms include joint swelling and redness, increased swelling and pain in the morning or after long periods of inactivity, and difficulty walking caused by any of the aforementioned symptoms.

How is Foot & Ankle Arthritis Treated?

Whether you are suffering from foot arthritis or ankle arthritis, the first step in your treatment will involve a consultation with a doctor. Your doctor will likely ask you about your medical history and any medicines you may be taking before they perform a physical examination of the afflicted area. During this exam, your doctor will analyze the way you walk (also known as your gait) to identify how severe your arthritis is, as well as exactly where it is located.

In order to diagnose arthritis of the foot or the ankle, your doctor may also authorize a series of tests. X-rays can be helpful in determining where cartilage has been lost or where bones have been worn down, which are telltale signs of arthritis. You may also undergo other tests such as bone scans, CT scans, MRIs, or blood tests.

Once you have been officially diagnosed with arthritis of the ankle or the foot, you can begin working with your doctor to create a personalized treatment plan. It’s important to note that there is no known cure for arthritis, but there are treatment methods that can reduce your pain and improve your functionality.

Typically, foot and ankle arthritis treatment does not involve surgery. Your doctor may recommend small lifestyle changes to help improve your condition, such as minimizing activities that may make your arthritis worse or encouraging low impact exercises like cycling or swimming.

It may also be helpful to undergo a physical therapy regimen. Physical therapy can help you strengthen the muscles within your foot and ankle to increase your range of motion. Your doctor may also recommend the use of NSAID pain relievers and assistive devices such as braces or shoe inserts.

Foot & Ankle Arthritis Surgical Treatment Options

In some severe cases in which nonsurgical treatment methods have been unsuccessful, surgical treatment may be recommended. Those experiencing the early stages of arthritis may benefit from a type of surgery called arthroscopic debridement. During this procedure, a small camera is placed into your joint, allowing the orthopedic surgeon to create small incisions to relieve pain.

Another surgical option is arthrodesis, which involves the fusion of bones at the joint, resulting in one continuous bone. In this surgery, motion in the arthritic joint will be reduced, therefore reducing your pain levels.

To learn more about Foot & Ankle Arthritis treatment options in the Fort Myers, Estero and Naples area, contact Orthopedic Center of Florida.

Meet our Foot & Ankle Doctors:

Jorge N. Gil, MD

Jorge N. Gil, MD

Fellowship Trained Orthopedic SurgeonOrthopedic Services and Sports Medicine SpecialtiesPodiatryForefoot Deformities...

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