There are three main types of arthritis that can strike your feet as well as elsewhere in your body. The type of treatment that you will require depends on the severity of your arthritis, which kind it is and the location of the condition.
The three types of arthritis include rheumatoid, which is a system-wide disease that follows a predictable pattern in specific joints, unlike osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is an inflammatory disease. The rheumatoid arthritic sufferer’s immune system attacks and decimates cartilage.
The second type is osteoarthritis, which is the wear-and-tear version of arthritis and occurs with age. It is a degenerative condition and is prevalent among people who are middle-aged and older. Cartilage, which is located at the ends of the bones, become frayed and worn with time. This causes pain in the joints, swelling and inflammation. The stiffness and pain brought on by osteoarthritis will worsen over time.
It is possible to suffer from post-traumatic arthritis, which is third type of arthritis and occurs following an injury to the ankle or foot. This condition is comparable to osteoarthritis. Years after incurring a sprain, fracture or ligament injury, post-traumatic arthritis can become a factor.
Consider undergoing non-surgical treatments for arthritis, which include putting pads or arch supports into your shoes; using anti-inflammatory medicines and pain relievers; having shoes custom made to provide better support; and wearing shoes that feature a rocker bottom or that have a stiff sole. Exercise and physical therapy can help in the treatment of arthritis. Sometimes steroid medications are injected into the arthritic joint to ease pain and increase mobility.
If your arthritis is severe, you may choose to undergo surgical correction. Arthroplasty, which is the replacement of the damaged joint, is one option. Other procedures include arthrodesis, which is the fusion of the joints, and arthroscopic debridement
Arthritis that is in the early stages responds well to arthroscopic surgery. A series of small incisions are made in the skin and an arthroscope, which is a pencil-sized utensil, is inserted into the joint. The arthroscope has a camera in it. An image is projected onto a monitor, which allows the surgeon to see inside the joint. He can then identify what the problem is and precisely where it is. There are small instruments, including knives, shavers, forceps and probes, that are attached to the end of the arthroscope. They are used to remove inflamed or foreign tissues from the joints as well as remove spurs, which are bony outgrowths. This process is called debridement.
In more serious cases of arthritis, arthrodesis is done to fuse the bones of the joint, making one continuous bone. Screws or rods, plates and pins are used to hold the bones together in the required position so that the joint will fuse. Unfortunately, arthritis may develop at joints located adjacently to the site where the fusion is done. Occasionally, a surgeon must do a bone graft if she determines that bone loss has occurred. A piece of bone, taken from the pelvis or from a lower leg bone, is used to make up for the missing bone.
An ankle joint can be replaced with a prosthesis or artificial implant. This is arthroplasty. A prosthesis of this nature can allow the patient better movement and mobility. This procedure is advised when an ankle joint has been destroyed or there is advanced arthritis in the ankle.
An alternative form of treating foot arthritis that you might want to consider is taking yucca root supplements. According to Dr. April Chang-Miller (See Resources below), yucca may reduce joint inflammation because it contains compounds that suppress certain intestinal microorganisms. This approach hasn’t been scientifically verified.
Consider using home remedies such as rubbing your sore, aching foot joints with hot vinegar before going to bed. Massage your foot joints with warm olive oil. Put Epsom salts (4 tbsp.) into your bath water. This should help reduce stiffness and inflammation in your feet. Take steams baths and get massages.