Arthritis may seem like an inevitable problem, something everyone experiences as they get older, but this isn’t necessarily the case. When arthritis strikes, you might feel frustrated or even depressed if you have difficulty performing routine tasks that used to be so easy. Fortunately, arthritis is one of the many foot and ankle issues we treat at our Florida offices. First, let us help you understand more about arthritic conditions.
The term “arthritis” tends to be used as a catchall for joint inflammation, and can refer to several different arthritic conditions, including:
- Osteoarthritis – The most common type of arthritis, this is the “wear and tear” variety stemming from cartilage breakdown in the joints. The bones that form a joint are covered at the ends with hard, slippery tissue (cartilage) that is responsible for aiding joint movement. When the tissue breaks down, the resulting situation is like an unoiled hinge.
- Gout – Unlike other variations of arthritis, this type can be affected by your diet. It happens when an accumulation of urate crystals build up in one of your joints, the most common area is where the big toe meets the foot. Some foods contain substances known as purines, normally your body breaks down the uric acid in purines to urea, and then it is passed through the kidneys in the form of urine. If your body does not break down the uric acid and / or your body produces too much uric acid, it builds up and forms urate crystals around your joints. Most commonly the joints in your foot and ankle.
- Post-traumatic arthritis – This arthritic condition develops after a dislocation or fracture, particularly when a joint is injured. It can take years for this arthritis to emerge. Even if the injury was treated properly –post-traumatic arthritis can occur.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – Instead of the body breaking down over time, RA is a matter of your body attacking itself. In this autoimmune disorder your immune system identifies the lining of your joints as an internal threat and attacks the joint, causing damage to the bone and joint surfaces.
The symptoms among the various arthritic conditions are fairly consistent. Generally, you can expect stiffness, diminished range of motion, swelling, and even pain. If you aren’t an active person, these symptoms are more likely to be experienced when you do move the affected joints.
Gout symptoms are typically experienced at night and include intense joint pain, inflammation, and redness. The discomfort accompanying an attack can linger up to a few weeks. Joint mobility often decreases in time as the gout progresses.
Arthritis can potentially develop in anyone, but certain factors make it more likely, including age, gender, heredity, injury, and obesity. Therefore, it is no surprise to hear that arthritis is more common in older adults. Women are predisposed to develop rheumatoid arthritis and men are more prone to having gout. Regardless of gender, extra weight increases stress on your joints, which then increases your risk for arthritis.
Family history and injury are also two factors that increase your arthritis risk. If your parents or siblings have (or had) one of these ailments, the odds are greater that you will too. Joint injuries, whether from an accident or sporting injury, also make it more likely that you will have trouble with the affected joint later in life.
Treatment for Arthritic Conditions
Arthritis treatment is focused on reducing pain and improving mobility in the affected joints. Given that these conditions often make movement difficult, it can seem counterintuitive to suggest that physical therapy will be helpful, but this is a smart starting point for treatment. Appropriate stretching and strengthening exercises are beneficial for the muscles that surround and support joints, while also improving your range of motion.
There are various medications that we might either prescribe or recommend to assist with managing pain from the condition. Some of these include analgesics, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and corticosteroids.
If nonsurgical treatment is ineffective, our doctors may recommend surgery, such as joint fusion or replacement.
Don’t let the pain and discomfort from arthritis make life more difficult than it needs to be – call us today! Simply dial 407-339-7759 or 352-589-9550 (when calling from Lake County) to request your appointment at any of our five Florida offices (Orlando, Lake Mary, Kissimmee, Tavares, and Altamonte Springs).