The Many Faces of Arthritis


Many people think of arthritis as an “old person’s disease.” It’s true that the most common form of arthritis is the wear and tear type where the cartilage between joints breaks down over time. But the term arthritis basically refers to inflammation and swelling of the cartilage and lining of the joints accompanied by an increase in fluid, and this has a much broader reach. At New York Foot Health part of our goal is educating patients about podiatric conditions. (We even offer a free foot health e-newsletter you can sign up for here.) With 33 joints in each foot, arthritis is an important foot health concern. Below are 5 different types of arthritis:

Osteoarthritis—this is the kind most people are familiar with that we referred to above. Generally, this degenerative joint disease comes on gradually with the pain increasing as the cartilage wears away. Pain can be relieved with rest. Being overweight makes the problem worse and accelerates the deterioration of cartilage and the development of bone spurs.

Rheumatoid Arthritis—a systemic chronic inflammatory disease, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most serious form of arthritis. It is part of a condition that can affect various systems of the body, including eyes, heart, nervous system and lungs and may be accompanied by fatigue and weight loss.

Gout—when uric acid (a normal byproduct of diet and produced by the body) builds up in a joint the conditions are ripe for a gout attack. Gout often affects the big toe joint and is extremely painful—often waking patients up with excruciating pain in the middle of the night. Avoiding certain trigger foods—red meat, shellfish, rich sauces, red wine and brandy—can help limit attacks.

Psoriatic Arthritis—about one in twenty patients who have the skin disorder, psoriasis, will develop this form of arthritis. The condition may only affect a few joints—those in the toes and fingertips are most susceptible—and pain is usually mild.

Traumatic Arthritis—Trauma caused by blunt or penetrating force or inappropriate motion of a joint can all cause damage to cartilage which eventually may lead to arthritis. That’s why the site of an injury that involves a bone or joint such as an ankle sprain or fracture later develops arthritis.

Joint pain in your toes, feet or ankles requires an evaluation by a professional podiatrist. To find one in your area, contact us or consult our online directory.