Stiff joints can be a pain – literally, but they’ll do little more than put a damper on your day. Arthritis, or inflammation of the joints, is on a whole other level of pain and one that can be debilitating.
And then there’s arthritis foot pain.
There are over 100 forms of arthritis, but arthritis in your feet can really put you on the sidelines and make performing daily tasks near impossible. Read on to find out the symptoms, causes, and treatment options to get you back on your feet as soon as possible.
Causes of Arthritis in Feet
There are 28 bones in the feet and ankles and over 30 joints that help with balance, movement, support, stability, and shock absorption. Certain joints contain synovial fluid encased in a membrane, and when the bones move within the joint, the membrane releases the fluid so the surrounding cartilage can stay hydrated. As a result, the joint stays lubricated, which, in turn keeps it protected and healthy. Arthritis occurs when the cartilage decreases, and that causes the joint to become inflamed.
Common Forms of Arthritis
Osteoarthritis– Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis and happens as a result of normal wear and tear on the body. It typically worsens in middle age or can arise due to obesity or if you are predisposed because it runs in the family. In the case of OA, the cartilage becomes dried out and threadbare and begins to dwindle until potentially, bone is rubbing against bone. This can cause inflammation and bone spurs.
Rheumatoid arthritis– The second most common form of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which is an autoimmune disorder. The body’s immune cells attack the synovial fluid surrounding the joints, causing swelling, redness, and inflammation. Eventually, the disease can lead to full destruction of the joint and the surrounding bones. RA typically starts in feet and ankles and usually affects both feet or both ankles at the same time, and while it is not entirely known where RA comes from, environmental toxins or an infection can lead to a flare-up.
Psoriatic arthritis-Unlike RA, psoriatic arthritis can affect one foot or ankle at a time. It does, however, have many of the same symptoms as RA. Psoriatic arthritis attacks the spot where ligaments and tendons attach to the bone, and two common sore spots are the Achilles tendon, located on the back of the heel, and the sole of the foot.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Arthritis in Feet
Arthritis foot pain typically occurs at a gradual rate and increases over time, especially after prolonged periods of immobility, such as sitting. It can be accompanied by the following symptoms:
• Joint tenderness
• Warmth around the joint
• Trouble walking
• Reduced range of motion
A visit to your primary care doctor is in order if you’re concerned you might have some type of arthritis. From there, your doctor will examine your feet, looking for excess fluid around the joint, whether the joint is warm to the touch, or if there’s swelling. He or she may ask you to walk around the room so they may observe any changes in your gait that may be a result of joint pain, swelling, or stiffness. They may also assess the length of your stride, the strength of your feet and ankles, and they may evaluate how the bones in your feet
line up with the bones in your legs. Your doctor might also run blood tests or order an imaging test, such as an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI.
Treatment Options for Arthritis Foot Pain
There are a number of medicinal treatment options available if you suffer from arthritis foot pain that are both conventional and natural in nature.
Medications. Medications sometimes work as a temporary fix for pain due to arthritis in feet. Luckily, there are a several naturopathic treatment options that can be done throughout the day, and, therefore, offer ongoing, lasting relief.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Maintaining a healthy weight and eating a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods that are loaded with antioxidants can help calm inflammation, as can avoiding smoking and avoiding dairy, processed foods, and foods high in saturated fat. One study found that following a gluten-free diet might also help keep inflammation at bay.
Apply heat or ice. For some, applying heat brings relief, while for others, ice soothes arthritic joints. Taking the pressure off the joint proves effective for others by wearing supportive sneakers, or by using a brace, a cane or a walker. You want to take care that you don’t stop using the joint altogether, as symptoms might increase or worsen.
Maintain mobility in the foot and ankle joint. This can be done through regular exercise. Not only can exercise strengthen the foot and ankle, it can help increase both flexibility and range of motion. Of course, if exercise causes your arthritis foot pain to increase sharply, cease the activity immediately. Otherwise, you might exacerbate your arthritis. Chiropractic care can greatly improve these symptoms by keeping movement in the joints.
One effective and simple exercise you can do for arthritis in feet is to wiggle your toes. Something else that’s effective is stretching out the Achilles tendon, as well as the toes. Massage can also provide some relief, and who doesn’t love a good foot massage?
Use topical pain-relievers. Topical pain relievers are a great way to alleviate pain due to arthritis in feet. Creams and ointments that utilize naturally-derived camphor and menthol are specially formulated to ease painful joints and provide pain relief.
The Takeaway for Arthritis in the Feet- Don’t let arthritis in your feet get you down. Follow these simple tips to keep your condition at bay and get back to your normal routine ASAP. This includes eating healthy, exercising gently, and using topical pain relievers for your pain. By altering your lifestyle, you can kick your pain away.