Arthritis is a disease of the joints which causes them to become inflamed and to stiffen. There are three main types of arthritis which affect the feet, Osteo-arthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis and Gout.
This is the most common type of arthritis and is known as the “wear and tear” complaint. It occurs in specific joints which are often overused, e.g. hips and knees. The wear and tear at the ends of the bones causes the cartilage to erode and the bone ends may begin to fuse, resulting in stiffness and aching in the joints. If your joints are painful, rest, the use of ice packs and anti-inflammatory creams will help and your G.P. may prescribe anti-inflammatory tablets too.
This is a systemic disease of the whole body, which particularly affects the joints and muscles in the foot, rather than one specific joint. The insides of the joints become inflamed, swollen and stiff and, as the disease progresses, the bones often move out of their correct positions. The inner arch of the foot may slowly collapse and flatten and the toes may draw back into a claw shape. The small joints of the hands and feet are the first to be affected, but eventually, all the joints may suffer changes.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive disease and twice as many women than men are affected. The soles of the feet become tender and you may feel you are “walking on pebbles”. Corns and ulcers often develop and resistance to infection becomes noticeably diminished, especially if you have been given a course of steroid therapy.
This condition, which is the result of a uric acid imbalance in the body, affects more men than women. The main symptom is waking-up in the middle of the night with an acute, throbbing pain in the big toe joint which is also swollen. Usually only one joint is affected. The pain lasts for three or four hours, then it will subside. Sometimes it will not return for several months. It can be easily controlled by drugs which your G.P. will prescribe.
All three forms of arthritis can benefit from care by your Podiatrist. Suitable padding can be applied to protect the affected joint and shoes can also be adapted and, in severe cases, made to measure shoes can be prescribed.