Arthritis – Not just for knees and elbows

Unfortunately, arthritis can affect any moving joint in your body and comes in many different forms. Many of these can be diagnosed by physical examination, x-ray, or simple blood tests. Because many of these types affect small joints, you are likely to notice them in your feet or hands first. Many times your family physician will help you manage the symptoms of your arthritis. Long standing arthritis or arthritis that is not treated can lead deformity, loss of function best address by a podiatrist. We want to review three common forms today, but it is important to make an appointment with your physician if you think you may have arthritis.

  1. The most common type is osteoarthritis and occurs in many adults as we grow older. While injury to a joint may increase the chance of cartilage damage, often the ‘wear and tear’ of daily life can cause joints to lose their protective layer with age. This tends to slowly become worse over time and may affect one side of your body but not the other.

  2. Rheumatoid arthritis is another form referred to as autoimmune. Typically occurring in middle age, your body’s immune system destroys the cartilage in your joints. This often occurs in both the right and left at the same time. Redness and swelling are present and pain may lessen as the joints are used more.

  3. Gouty arthritis often manifests in the foot and ankle. If you have experienced gout before, you know how excruciatingly painful your big toe became. Gout occurs because your body is unable to eliminate all the uric acid it takes in and the acid it begins to from sharp crystals in your joints. Medication should be implemented early to prevent the gout from having permanent changes to the joint structure.

Many treatments, such as physical therapy and oral medication, are extremely effective in keeping you pain free and allowing you to continue you daily routine when arthritis is identified early. Some individuals living with arthritis may also benefit from viscosupplementation. Custom orthosis and bracing can help by limiting motion of damaged joints without changing function. When the disease has progressed and motion is extremely painful or non-existent, surgery may become an option. Your Austin podiatrist will discuss this option with you in detail should it become necessary.

Until next time, keep those feet happy and healthy, Austin!

Dr. Craig H. Thomajan, DPM, FACFAS, FAENS
Founder and Managing Partner of Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists
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