What is arthritis?
Arthritis refers to a host of disorders that damage and deforms the joints. The feet are commonly affected, as they have many joints that must move to allow them to adapt to different surfaces and absorb mechanical shock.
Common types of arthritis include:
Rheumatoid Arthritis which results in inflammation of joints, causing them to become swollen, stiff and painful. Other systems of the body may also be affected.
Osteoarthritis where the joints are damaged though wear and tear. Arthritis has no cure yet, but the disease can be managed so that in most cases deformities can be prevented and pain reduced.
What can be done?
Correct diagnosis is important. Your doctor will use the symptoms you describe as well as clinical signs to diagnose you. Blood tests and x-rays may also be required.
Medication to control pain and reduce inflammation of the joints may be necessary and these will be prescribed by your doctor.
Rest and exercise are important in managing arthritis. Rest is required when joints are hot, swollen and painful. At other times exercise is necessary to retain muscle strength and joint mobility. This helps you feel better and retain healthy joints. Warming up and cooling down exercises are important to minimise the risk of injury.
A team approach that included such people as a podiatrist, physiotherapist, occupational therapist and the person with arthritis all working together is often needed.
Protecting the joints
Joints affected by arthritis need to be protected from forces which cause them to become deformed, painful and lose function. The joints of the feet, if affected by arthritis, will become deformed when they bear your body weight when standing and walking. Your podiatrist can help by providing advice and, when necessary, protective devices to assist in the protection of the joints of the feet and help you to walk more effectively and comfortably.
For more information, call us on 03 9735 1273