May is National Arthritis Awareness Month
Arthritis is the number one cause of disability in our country. At NY Foot Health we know that painful arthritic joints in your feet and ankles are even a greater problem than in other parts of your body because it affects your ability to walk. In addition, those joints have the added stress of carrying the weight of your entire body. Arthritis is a general term that applies to over 100 disorders that result in inflammation and swelling of the joints and cartilage. In honor of National Arthritis Awareness Month, here is some information on the causes of arthritis and what you can to do to prevent it.
Who Gets Arthritis?
Arthritic symptoms can arise for a number of different reasons:
- Bacterial or viral infections that cause joint inflammation—such as staph infections, Lyme disease and pneumonia
- Certain prescription and illegal street drugs
- Injuries, particularly ones that have been ignored and left untreated
- Congenital autoimmune disease
- Bowel disorders like colitis and ileitis
Early Treatment is Important
At the first signs of joint discomfort it’s important to consult your podiatrist. Don’t have one? We can help you find a podiatrist in your area. Some symptoms that may point to arthritis are not so obvious. In addition to pain in one or more of the joints of your feet other signs include:
- Stiffness—either constant or just first thing in the morning
- Redness or heat in a joint
- Changes in the skin over a joint, including rashes, redness or growths
- Limited range of motion
Once cartilage is destroyed, it usually can’t be restored, but inflammation can be controlled and range of motion improved if treatment starts in the early stages. The type of treatment that the podiatrist recommends will depend on the kind of arthritis and its cause. Medication, physical therapy, braces, exercise and custom orthotics to control foot function as well as modifying shoe choices can all relieve pain, increase mobility and bring arthritis into remission. In severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary, but this is always a last resort. To learn more about arthritis and your feet and other conditions that affect your lower extremities, subscribe to our free e-newsletter or contact us.