Arthritis can be a painful, restrictive and debilitating condition. While pain and discomfort is one aspect, arthritis in your feet can also cause permanent changes to the joints that can impair mobility, make comfortable shoes more challenging to find, and ultimately affect your quality of life and independence.
Here are some fast facts on the burden of arthritis, prepared by Arthritis Australia:
While existing damage from arthritis can’t be reversed, you can help slow its progression with podiatry care while reducing your pain and improving comfort. With over 100 types of arthritis, here are the four most common types we see and help our patients manage.
You may know osteoarthritis as your wear and tear arthritis affecting the bone ends in a joint. In recent years, the definition has evolved to include the effects on the entire joint and all of its components, with some of the structural changes resulting from the body actively working to repair the joint damage, as opposed to just the wearing-down process.
It can affect any joint in the body but often affects our knees, feet and hips because of how much we use them and the force they take on in everyday life. If you’ve never been diagnosed with an inflammatory problem and suspect you have arthritic joint pain, this may be the type of arthritis affecting you.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a destructive inflammatory joint disease. As an auto-immune disease, your immune system mistakenly attacks your own cells – specifically the lining of your joints. Rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect you in symmetrical ‘flare-ups’ that can be extremely painful. It is during these flares that your joints become damaged and structural changes occur – and continue to worsen over time as the flares persist. Rheumatoid arthritis often requires treatment from a specialist Rheumatologist, and a coordinated healthcare team including a podiatrist.
Gout is a unique type of arthritis that is caused by needle-like crystals forming in your joints – most often in your feet and most commonly in your big toe joint. This is called a gout ‘flare’ and brings with it severe pain and swelling. The cause of these crystals is a high concentration of a substance called urate, or uric acid, in our blood. With gout, prevention and management is key to helping you stay comfortable and mobile, before and during a flare.
Arthritis In Kids – Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Arthritis that affects kids below the age of 16 is typically referred to as juvenile idiopathic arthritis unless it is identified as another specific arthritis. Affecting approximately one in 500 children, the cause of this auto-immune disease is poorly understood, but involves the body’s own immune system attacking the healthy cells in the joints, particularly in the knees and feet, thereby creating problems with comfortable and healthy movement. As any joint damage can have lifelong consequences, it’s important to diagnose and manage arthritis in kids as early as possible.