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Arthritis of the Foot and Ankle

Updated: Oct 12, 2020

Arthritis is a term to describe a range of conditions that affect the joint in your body. Arthritis can occur in one joint or it can occur in many joints. It can affect the big joints of the body such as the knee or it can affect the small joints such as those in the foot. Arthritis is often classified into two basic categories, which are inflammatory and non-inflammatory arthritis. As arthritis can affect the foot and ankle, it can often lead to difficulty walking and conducting various activities which can result in a reduced quality of life.

Types of Arthritis

Imaging and tests for Arthritis

X-rays can provide information about your bones and the alignment of the bones. If arthritis is present, X-rays may show joint space narrowing, fractures, osteophyte (bony lump) formation and changes in the alignment of the joints.

Blood tests can show any inflammatory markers that can help diagnosis between different types of arthritis. For example, whether there is osteoarthritis as a result of "wear and tear" or old injuries, or an inflammatory arthritis, such as Rheumatoid arthritis.

Other types of medical imaging, such as bone scans, CT scans and MRI imaging can be used to determine more details about bone, soft tissue and joint changes.

Treatment for Arthritis

Arthritis cannot be cured but there are treatment options to help relieve pain and discomfort, as well as to improve mobility

Conservative treatment for arthritis includes:

  • The use of medications to reduce the inflammation and/or pain in the joints.

  • Medicines that specifically target inflammatory arthritis can slow down or in some cases, halt the progression of the condition.

  • Reducing or modifying activities that aggravate the condition and your discomfort

  • Performing non-weight bearing exercises such as swimming or cycling to increase strength and support your joints, as well as increasing range of motion.

  • Losing weight and maintaining a good diet.

  • Orthotics to assist with the pain, deformity and functional problems related to the joints

  • Other assistive devices such as braces and ankle foot orthoses

Surgical treatment:

If arthritis leads to significant disability then surgical options can be considered. The surgical treatment is dependent on the location and type of arthritis. Your podiatric surgeon can explain your options.

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