Everything You Need to Know About Foot and Ankle Arthritis

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Arthritis is inflammation of one of your joints in the body. When a joint becomes inflamed, it can cause stiffness and pain making it difficult to move and function properly. There are over 100 different types of arthritis, but the most common are often found in the small joints that consist of the foot and ankle.

Foot and ankle arthritis can make it hard for a person to walk and do certain daily activities. While there is no known cure for arthritis as of this writing, there are many ways to treat it. Milder cases of arthritis can be treated with medication and exercises, while more severe cases need to be treated with ankle surgery Houston.

The foot and ankle serve many different purposes to a human being. They are meant to provide support, maintain balance, absorb shock, and perform other tasks that are necessary for the person to be able to stand, walk, and run.

In total, there are 28 bones and over 30 joints in each of your feet. Together, these bones and joints make for a great array of flexibility, from wiggling your toes to rolling your ankle from side to side. All these joints can be subject to arthritis.

A lubricating substance, known as articular cartilage, allows the bones to smoothly roll and glide over one another. This cartilage can be found at the ends of the bones that are connected to the joints. The joints are not covered by articular cartilage, but rather with a thin layer called synovium. This layer creates a fluid that keeps the cartilage lubricated so that no friction between the bones are created. Finally, there are ligaments, which are strong bands that keep joints in place.

The three most common types of arthritis are known as osteoarthritis, posttraumatic arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage in the joint wears out from fraying and fatigue. This typically develops when people reach middle age, though younger patients can also have it. Osteoarthritis leads to failure in the articular cartilage, which causes the bones to rub together and causes pain to occur in the foot and ankle. This type of arthritis is caused by age, obesity, and/or genealogy.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a more severe version of arthritis that can impact more than one joint in the body, starting with joints in the foot and ankle. This arthritis is known for affecting both sides of the body at the same time; both knees, both hips, etc. When this arthritis occurs, the immune system will actually harm the tissues, and cells will cover the synovium, preventing lubrication to the feet. Tendons and ligaments can also experience problems in addition to pain and stiffness. The cause for this arthritis is unknown at this time, but studies suggest that it comes from an environmental factor or infection.

Finally, posttraumatic arthritis can occur following a foot or ankle injury. When a bone is broken in the foot or ankle, the joint can be altered, dislocated, or fractured in a way that affects how the foot functions. Similar to osteoarthritis, post traumatic arthritis causes the joints in the foot to wear out over time, and it can even occur years after the foot has been initially injured. Even with ankle surgery Houston, an injured foot is more likely to develop arthritis than a non-injured foot.

Treatments for foot and ankle arthritis vary depending on the severity. These treatments include medications, lifestyle changes, physical therapy, walking aids, and surgical treatments such as arthroscopic surgery. Surgery is the most effective method for relief from arthritis, but requires in between four to nine months for a full recovery.