Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis, which is a term that describes over 100 diseases all related to joint inflammation. It can be chronic or acute, but usually when we talk about osteoarthritis, we’re referring to a chronic, degenerative condition that gets worse as people age.
Osteoarthritis is also known as “wear-and-tear” arthritis and tends to affect people aged 50 or older (although younger adults can shown symptoms). Those with this condition usually suffer from pain, stiffness, tenderness, and a loss of flexibility.
While many people think of knees and hips when they think of OA, the condition can also affect your feet, causing the same symptoms in them as in other parts of your body.
Here’s how OA can impact your feet and what you can do to treat it.
Looking at Your Feet with Osteoarthritis
Your feet are relatively complicated mechanisms. Each foot has 28 bones and dozens of joints. In theory, any of these joints and bones can experience chronic inflammation and degradation.
In general, most people who have OA in their feet have problems with a few specific joints, such as the joints that are found with the heel bone, the outer mid-foot bone, and the inner mid-foot bone. Here at Foot Specialists of Birmingham, we also frequently see problems with the big toe joint and the ankle joint where it meets the shinbone.
Problems with these joints can impair your ability to walk and even balance while standing. It can be difficult to jog, run, exercise, or play sports. Many of those who suffer from OA in the feet can adopt a “shuffle” that indicates they’re having problems with their joints and are trying to not put a lot of pressure on them.
Most of the time, OA in the feet is diagnosed with X-rays, a physical exam and an MRI or CT scan if necessary.
Treating Osteoarthritis in the Feet
There are a few options our Birmingham Foot Specialists have to treat OA in your feet. These range from steroids injected into the joints and anti-inflammatory medications to reduce inflammation to custom orthotic devices, custom shoes, physical therapy, and pain relievers. In severe cases, you may have to use a cane or walker.
Finding the right shoes can be a big relief for those with OA. You want to find shoes that match your foot’s natural profile, are comfortable, and have rubber soles for extra cushioning. They also need to be flexible and pliable. This usually means getting custom shoes made for you, as many shoes sold out of the box won’t meet these criteria.
Foot Specialists of Birmingham
If you have stiffness in your feet and it seems to be getting worse as you age, Foot Specialists of Birmingham provides podiatry services to runners and non-runners in the greater Birmingham metro area. Foot Specialists of Birmingham can diagnose your condition and give you a course of treatment that works well for your specific situation. Contact us to set an appointment or get more information about how we can help you take great care of your feet.