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Osteoarthritis – Symptoms and Treatment

Osteoarthritis – Symptoms and Treatment

Osteoarthritis is common and is a degenerative or “wear-and-tear” form of arthritis. This is usually a problem for many people after they reach middle age, but it may occur in younger people, too.

In osteoarthritis, the cartilage in the joint gradually wears away. As the cartilage wears away, it becomes frayed and rough, and the protective space between the bones decreases. This can result in bone rubbing on bone, and produce painful osteophytes.

In addition to age, other risk factors for osteoarthritis include obesity and family history of the disease and poor foot and alignment or biomechanics.

Osteoarthritis develops slowly, causing pain and stiffness that worsen over time.


Symptoms

The symptoms of arthritis vary depending on which joint is affected. In many cases, an arthritic joint will be painful and inflamed. Generally, the pain develops gradually over time, although sudden onset is also possible. There can be other symptoms, as well, including:

  • Pain with motion
  • Pain that flares up with vigorous activity
  • Tenderness when pressure is applied to the joint
  • Joint swelling, warmth, and redness
  • Increased pain and swelling in the morning, or after sitting or resting
  • Difficulty in walking due to any of the above symptoms

Treatment

There is no cure for arthritis but there are a number of treatments that may help relieve the pain and disability it can cause.

Conservative / Nonsurgical Treatment

Initial treatment of arthritis of the foot and ankle is usually nonsurgical. Your Podiatrist may recommend a range of treatment options.

Lifestyle modifications. Some changes in your daily life can help relieve the pain of arthritis and slow the progression of the disease. These changes include:

  • Minimizing activities that aggravate the condition.
  • Switching from high-impact activities (like jogging or tennis) to lower impact activities (like swimming or cycling) to lessen the stress on your foot and ankle.
  • Losing weight to reduce stress on the joints, resulting in less pain and increased function.

Physical therapy. Specific exercises can help increase range of motion and flexibility, as well as help strengthen the muscles in your foot and ankle. Your Podiatrist can help develop an individualized exercise program that meets your needs and lifestyle.

Although physical therapy often helps relieve stress on the arthritic joints, in some cases it may intensify joint pain. This occurs when movement creates increasing friction between the arthritic joints. If your joint pain is aggravated by physical therapy, your Podiatrist will stop this form of treatment.

Aids & Appliances. Using or wearing a brace—such as an ankle-foot orthoses – may help improve mobility. In addition, wearing shoe inserts orthotics or custom-made shoes with stiff soles and rocker bottoms can help minimize pressure on the foot and decrease pain. In addition, if deformity is present, a shoe insert may tilt the foot of ankle back straight, creating less pain in the joint. Cushioned insoles are often helpful to customized to accommodate lesions and provide pressure relief.

Extra depth, extra width and even customized footwear prescription can often be a critical aspect to accommodating the arthritic foot, optimizing mobility and preventing trips, falls and injuries.

The Richie Brace® is a revolutionary alternative to traditional ankle braces and ankle-foot orthoses (AFO’s). The lightweight construction and low profile design features of the Richie Brace allows better shoe fit, more freedom of movement and reduced pain from injury. TFAAC Podiatrists are highly trained and specialise in prescribing these revolutionary customs made braces. The Richie Brace has become a gold standard treatment in the orthotics industry. It is universally recognized by Podiatrists, Pedorthists, Orthotists and Orthopedic surgeons as a unique, breakthrough technology to treat a wide variety of foot and ankle pathologies such as foot drop, ankle arthritis, ankle sprains and many other ankle injuries.

Medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, can help reduce swelling and relieve pain. In addition, cortisone is a very effective anti-inflammatory agent that can be injected into an arthritic joint. Although an injection of cortisone can provide pain relief and reduce inflammation, the effects are temporary.

Surgical Treatment

Your Podiatrist may recommend surgery if your pain causes disability and is not relieved with nonsurgical treatment. The type of surgery will depend on the type and location of the arthritis and the impact of the disease on your joints. In some cases, your doctor may recommend more than one type of surgery.