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What Is Arthritis in the Foot?

Arthritis is a type of chronic inflammation that occurs in the joints. There are several types of arthritis, but the most common is osteoarthritis – a gradual degeneration of the joints that support weight throughout the body. With normal wear and tear, the cartilage that cushions these joints can thin out. This is especially common in the knees, hips, back, and feet. When arthritis develops in the foot or ankle, it can make it particularly difficult to walk.

Early signs of arthritis in the feet

Physicians can provide several different types of treatment for arthritis, and it’s often best to start treatment as soon as possible. However, many people deal with symptoms for months – or even years – before being diagnosed. Potential warning signs that can indicate arthritis in the foot include:

  • Pain that worsens after periods of inactivity
  • Redness on the surface of the foot, either alone or accompanied by a warm sensation
  • Swelling, stiffness and tenderness

Because arthritis is a progressive condition, these symptoms tend to get worse with time – especially when left untreated. Even though treatment cannot reverse the effects of arthritis, it is possible to slow its progression and relieve the associated discomfort.

How is arthritis treated?

An orthopedist can provide individualized treatment recommendations for arthritis in the feet or ankles. Medications and injections can help reduce inflammation and manage pain, while physical therapy can enhance range of motion. A custom brace may be worn to relieve stress on arthritic joints, while cushioned shoe inserts can also increase comfort. In the most severe cases, a surgeon can remove damaged portions of bone from the feet.

Lifestyle modifications can also help improve function and slow down the degenerative process. For instance, losing weight (if needed) can help lessen the demands on the feet and preserve the remaining cartilage. Taking up a low-impact exercise, such as swimming or cycling, can strengthen the muscles throughout the lower body without putting extra stress on the joints.

At Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine of Houston, Texas, we welcome patients who are experiencing severe foot and ankle pain, providing a variety of treatments under one roof. Here, arthritis in the foot is typically treated with conservative therapies unless surgery is necessary as a last resort. This approach helps our patients avoid an unnecessarily long recovery.

Additionally, we have a team of foot and ankle specialists who can provide the most applicable treatment recommendations, helping our patients find effective solutions for their pain. If you’d like to make an appointment with our board-certified and double-board-certified physicians, contact us today.