Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in adults. When it occurs in your feet and ankles, the pain and swelling can stop you in your tracks. Dr. Dustin Hubbard and Dr. Ralph Dixon at Fairbanks Foot and Ankle specialize in helping patients with foot arthritis achieve pain relief and stay active. For a complete evaluation, diagnosis, and customized treatment, call the office in Fairbanks, Alaska or use online booking.
Arthritis Q & A
What types of arthritis affect your foot and ankle?
Arthritis refers to joint inflammation, a general description that includes more than 100 diseases. Your feet are especially susceptible to arthritis because they endure constant use and incredible pressure from carrying the weight of your body. The three most common types of foot and ankle arthritis are:
Osteoarthritis is a wear-and-tear condition that develops as cartilage on the ends of bones gradually degenerates. Cartilage allows bones to glide smoothly over each other. As it wears away, bone rubs against bone, producing bone spurs and inflammation.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. It causes joint inflammation when your immune system attacks the synovium, a tissue that surrounds the joint and produces lubricating fluids. Over time, inflammation erodes bones in the joint, causing deformity.
Post-traumatic arthritis develops after an injury to your foot or ankle, often a dislocation or fracture. Like osteoarthritis, loss of cartilage in the years after the initial injury causes it. An injured joint is about seven times more likely to become arthritic compared to an uninjured joint.
What are the symptoms of arthritis?
All three types of arthritis cause joint pain, stiffness, and swelling, followed by reduced mobility. The pain and swelling are worse when you’re active and first thing in the morning or after a rest. You may have a hard time walking due to one or more symptoms.
Osteoarthritis can affect the joints in one or both feet, while posttraumatic arthritis develops in an injured joint. By comparison, rheumatoid arthritis typically occurs in the same joints in both feet.
How is arthritis treated?
Although pain and stiffness in your feet make it hard to exercise, it’s important to stay active to maintain range of motion and alleviate pain.
Your doctor at Fairbanks Foot and Ankle may recommend physical therapy, targeted exercises, or switching from high-impact to low-impact activities. If your activity sharpens your pain, talk to your doctor about other options.
Assistive devices, such as a brace or cane, and customized orthotics (shoe inserts) or specially-made shoes can all help improve mobility and relieve pain.
In some cases, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove loose cartilage, inflamed tissue, and bone spurs. If your pain becomes disabling, a bone fusion may reduce pain by eliminating motion in the joint.
When you develop joint pain and stiffness, call Fairbanks Foot and Ankle or book an appointment online.