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How To Treat Foot Arthritis
Our feet are under constant stress as they have to bear the weight of the entire body during activities like walking, running etc. The foot has around 26 bones and 33 joints, all of which can be prone to arthritis. Arthritis means “joint inflammation”, and a term used to describe a group of more than 100 diseases. One such is the “Foot Arthritis”.
Foot Arthritis involves tenderness or swelling of its joint or in the surrounding tissues. It may show as pain and stiffness in a particular joint, rashes, redness or growths on the skin. The swelling could be acute or chronic which progresses by weakening of the joints and the cushions in the cartilages gradually wearing out. As a result, the bones rub against each other making soft tissues to wear out and the joints to become more painful. There is loss of functioning of the joints and deformity to a certain extent, due to which the ability to move or walk could be restricted.
Foot Arthritis Can Be of Two Types
Osteoarthritis- a degenerative disease indicating that the cartilages are nearly wearing out after a person reaches middle age. The second type is the Rheumatoid arthritis, an auto immune disorder where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cartilages.
Treatment of Foot Arthritis
The good news is that arthritis can be treated in many ways. Of these some are Non surgical in case one is unwilling to get a surgery done.
Non Surgical Treatments for Foot Arthritis
Following are some of the non surgical methods to deal with Foot arthritis:
Medications and Anti-Inflammatory Injections
A person may be injected with steroid and anti- inflammatory agents such as cortisone, ibuprofen or aspirin in the joints to keep the pain and inflammation in check.
Additional painkillers may be given to reduce swelling and pain. Although some medications may not reverse or reduce the progression of arthritis, they can help to ease symptoms of foot arthritis by reducing the chemical signals related to inflammation and alleviate joint stiffness, thus helping the patient to walk easily.
Several anti-inflammatory creams and ointments are available and their application can provide respite from inflammation, rashes or redness of the skin etc.
Choosing footwear which is wider, especially in the toe area, is less restraining and helps people with foot arthritis to be more comfortable while walking. Orthodics technique provides additional shoe inserts or arch supports to enhance the padding and protection of the foot.
Apart from that, shoes are also designed in such a way that it’s sole helps to absorb the stress while walking and particularly protect the base of the feet.
Physical Therapy and Exercise
Several foot exercises and low intensity exercises can improve blood circulation, reinforce joints and surrounding tissues thus reducing their deterioration. Physical therapy will involve specific exercises that will help to enhance muscle stamina of the feet, which in turn can help to protect the joints of the foot.
After several physical therapy sessions, the joints become comparatively strong enough not to rub against each other thus reducing the pain and inflammation of the joints. Physical therapy exercises should be continued for the joints to remain healthy.
Overweight or obesity puts the feet under constant stress since they have to handle the entire body weight. This can gradually lead to swelling of joints further leading of arthritis. Some foods are believed to have a healing effect on the body due to their anti-inflammatory properties.
According to Robert O. Young, the author of “The pH Miracle”, foods rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants are believed to lower arthritis pain in the feet. Thus, oranges, lemons, pineapple and other citrus fruits and vegetables known for their anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants can help to reduce arthritis pain. Weight loss and healthy diet modifications can thus help in easing inflammation of the joints.
For some people the nonsurgical approach may not help much to deal with foot arthritis and so surgery may be required. The different types of surgical methods used in operating arthritis of foot are as follows:
It is also called as Arthroscopic Surgery and is used to operate early stages of foot arthritis. In this procedure, the surgeon makes small incisions in the skin of the problematic area of the foot through which it inserts a small pencil sized arthroscope, equipped with a camera to provide images of the affected area.
The arthroscope also carries instruments to clean the area near the joints of loose materials, bone outgrowths (spurs) and foreign tissues etc.
Arthrodesis or Fusion Technique
As the name implies, this procedure relies on joining or fusion of the bones of the joint in order to form a continuous bone. This is achieved by the use of screws, pins and plates to hold the target bones in place for the joints to fuse. In case the joints fail to fuse, it reflects in the breakage of the structure. Sometimes bone grafting may be needed in case of bone loss. In such cases, the surgeon takes a piece of bone (graft) from some other part of the body like lower leg bone as a replacement for the missing bone.
Post surgical complications may show as difficulty in healing of wounds which can be treated by further surgery. Also in some, things can become tricky when the arthritis pain starts in the joints that are surrounding the fused bone. This can occur due to stress exerted on the surrounding joints of the fused area, resulting into arthritis pain in those joints.
Arthroplasty or Joint Replacement Surgery
A technique mainly used for people suffering from arthritis heading in the joints of the ankle. Here the damaged ankle is replaced by a prosthetic or an artificial implant. As compared to the fused treatment, Arthroplasty is more effective as not only does it provide relief from the arthritis pain but also flexible movement of the arthritis affected joints. This also proves helpful for the joints in the surrounding area since less stress is exerted on them, thus preventing arthritis in the surrounding joints.
However, the downside of Arthroplasty is that over the years the implants may become loose or sometimes are unsuccessful. In case they prove to be highly unsuccessful, the patient may need to undergo an Arthroplasty again.
Taking care of your feet is important especially in case of foot arthritis. Although foot arthritis is not curable, but with the wide options available for its treatment and with professional guidance, the problem of foot arthritis can be handled effectively.
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