Arthritis, inflammation to a joint, can affect any joint of the foot. This typically produces pain, swelling and warmth. It can eventually lead to destruction of the joint resulting in deformity, stiffness, decreased range of motion, and the inability to ambulate normally.
There are numerous forms of arthritis. The most common type in the foot is called osteoarthritis. Other forms include rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis, septic arthritis, and gout to name a few.
Osteoarthritis is characterized by a destruction of cartilage within a joint. This typically stems from repetitive stress on a joint that is breaking down. It is a degenerative process and typically advances with age. Joint cartilage is the smooth, hard tissue that covers the end of the bones at the joint. This is essential for the normal function of a joint as it helps protect the bones during movement. When the cartilage is broken down, it can cause joint space narrowing, extra bone formation and cystic formation (pockets of fluid within the bone). When the bones are no longer covered by this smooth surface, mechanical rubbing will continue to precipitate inflammation and pain. Common reasons for development of osteoarthritis are trauma or underlying biomechanical abnormalities that precipitate increased strain on a joint.
Diagnosis typically starts with obtaining X-rays to evaluate the bony architecture of your feet. Advanced imaging studies such as CT or MRI are sometimes recommended after a thorough clinical evaluation is performed. Nonsurgical treatment is typically the first approach and can be effective to help relieve symptoms. As the arthritis continues to progress, surgery may become the recommended course of treatment. Come see our specialists today for proper evaluation and treatment.
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