Osteoarthritis is the progressive degeneration of a joint caused by “wear and tear”. The word arthritis is literally defined as the ‘inflammation of a joint’. Our joints have to endure decades of pressure and overuse which ultimately leads to chronic swelling and inflammation. Because of its progressive nature, osteoarthritis becomes exceedingly more common as we age. It can affect just about any joint in the body, but quite often presents in the hands and feet.
Just as the song says, “The hip bone’s connected to the knee bone, the knee bone’s connected to the ankle bone” and so on and so forth. The words of that song may be simple, but couldn’t be any more true! Osteoarthritis can affect every joint in the leg from the hip all the way down to the tip of the toe. Some of the most commonly involved joints in the lower extremity are the knee, ankle and big toe joints. Symptoms of osteoarthritis include joint stiffness, pain with motion, swelling, decreased range of motion and deformity. Osteoarthritis is often evident on an x-ray and can be easily diagnosed during an in-office exam.
The treatment for osteoarthritis is often conservative and very manageable. The list of non-surgical options is lengthy and includes: orthotics, steroid injections, anti-inflammatory drugs and pain relievers. Wearing proper fitting shoe gear is another key component in the management of arthritis pain. Make sure that your shoes are the right size and provide support and cushioning. In severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary (such as joint fusion or replacement).
Since osteoarthritis occurs over a lifetime, prevention must occur very early on. Taking care of your joints from a young age will increase the chances of having healthy joints as you age. Preventative measures include sensible shoe gear, maintaining an active lifestyle and a healthy weight to decrease the pressure put on your joints.
If your day to day activities are being affected by arthritis pain, consider making an appointment with Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona. We want to get you back on your feet and pain free as quickly as possible!