Foot and Ankle Arthritis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments
Arthritis of the foot and ankle can be particularly frustrating because it may hinder your ability to get around. Unfortunately, because the foot has 28 bones and more than 30 joints, there are plenty of places where this condition can flare up. Here's what you need to know:
- Foot and ankle arthritis can have different causes. Your arthritis may be osteoarthritis, which is the most common form of arthritis. Usually occurring as we age, it happens because of wear and tear that erodes the cartilage protecting our joints. But you may also have post-traumatic arthritis, which occurs after an injury to the bone, joint, or ligament. The arthritis can arise years after the injury, even if it was properly treated. Finally, you may have developed rheumatoid arthritis, a system-wide autoimmune disorder in which the body destroys its own cartilage and can cause multiple complications elsewhere.
- How do I know if the pain and stiffness in my feet and ankles is arthritis? It's not always easy to tell. If you've experienced arthritis that migrates from one joint to another, or if you have other unexplained health issues such as eye infections or skin irritations, there's a chance your foot and ankle problems are rheumatoid in nature. If you've been active for many years without any other apparent health issues and find that your feet and ankles are becoming painful, stiff and sore, especially in the morning, consider that you may have developed osteoarthritis. If the pain and discomfort occur in a part of the foot or ankle that once sustained an injury, there's a very real possibility that you've developed post-traumatic arthritis. In any case, there's no definitive test that will let your doctor diagnose you with arthritis. Diagnosis is made based on a combination of factors such as physical symptoms, medical history, blood tests, x-rays, bone scans, and MRIs.
- How do I get rid of foot and ankle arthritis? Getting rid of it completely may not be possible. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition that typically flares up periodically. You may feel fine for several months and then experience a flare-up that makes it difficult to walk for weeks. This cycle often repeats itself, with flare-ups occurring during times of stress or for no apparent reason. Osteoarthritis or post-traumatic arthritis may be "cured" via joint-replacement surgery, if the condition is severe enough. For many people, however, a combination of anti-inflammatory medication, pain relievers, physical therapy, foot or ankle braces, and weight control can go a long way toward providing relief.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, www.aaos.org
Cleveland Clinic, http://my.clevelandclinic.org.
Sign Up for Free Newsletters
Ask Your Doctor the RIGHT Questions!
the most from your doctor visit.
Emailed right to you!
The Ask Your Doctor email series
may contain sponsored content.
18+, US residents only please.
Explore Original Articles About...
Get the MOST from QualityHealth
- Top Searches
- 1. Arthritis Management: Nature Heals
- 2. 5 Digestive To-Dos
- 3. Men: Should You Shave It or Leave It?
- 4. Today's Top Fitness Trends
- 5. Sugar and Osteoarthritis : The Link
- 6. Can't Afford Your Hospital Bills?
- 7. Stay Energized All Day Long
- 8. Phobias: Who Has Them and Why?
- 9. What If Your EpiPen Fails?
- 10. 5 Costly Medical Billing Mistakes
- 1. Hotter Temperatures Linked To Kidney Stones
- 2. Summer Bug Bites: What to Look For
- 3. Skin Health Advice with Dr. Kenneth Beer
- 4. Summer Safety Tips That Every Parent Needs To Know
- 5. Sugar and Your Immunity System
- 6. Do Weight Loss Supplements Work?
- 7. 5 Super Foods for Spring
- 8. The Hazards of Reusable Bags
- 9. How to Avoid Ingrown Hairs
- 10. Health Tip: Constantly Change Shoes
- 1. 4 Common Treatments for Epilepsy
- 2. What Does a Urogynecologist Do?
- 3. GERD Without Heartburn? It's Possible
- 4. Graston Technique: Can It Work on You?
- 5. Music Therapy Can Help Autism
- 6. 8 Ways to Fight MS-Related Fatigue
- 7. Can You Still Bleed After Menopause?
- 8. Be Your Own Health Care Advocate
- 9. Why Is Syphillis on the Rise?
- 10. Ideal Weight vs. Happy Weight
The material on the QualityHealth Web site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a physician or other qualified health provider. See additional information.