Arthritis Comes in Many Forms
A common cause of foot and ankle pain we treat for our patients is arthritis. While many people think the issue only affects senior citizens, this is not true. There are actually several different forms of arthritic conditions, but A Step Up Podiatry is ready to provide the treatment and care for any of them that affect you or your loved ones.
The term “arthritis” is essentially a catch-all that can be used for any of several different issues that lead to pain and stiffness in joints, including:
- Osteoarthritis – The most common type associated with the condition, this form is the “wear and tear” one that results from breakdown of the tissues that line joints as you get older.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) – This is an autoimmune disorder that causes the body to attack protective joint lining.
- Gout – Often affecting the joint at the base of the big toe, gout is an arthritic condition caused by a substance known as uric acid, a naturally-occurring byproduct from the process used to break down food. When excessive uric acid is produced or it is not flushed properly out of the body, it settles into joints and crystalizes. The sharp points of the crystals cause problems, particularly during gout flare-ups.
- Trauma-based Arthritis – Perhaps the best example that this disease does not affect only older adults is when bone fractures in or near joints lead to the onset of arthritis. This most frequently occurs as the result of physical trauma, like auto accidents or sports injuries.
The primary symptoms associated with arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which makes sense because the word literally means “joint inflammation.” Specific symptoms vary based upon the severity and form of arthritis a patient has, but can also include redness, swelling, and a reduced range of motion. In the case of gout, the condition is marked by periodic, painful flare-ups that are most likely to occur at night.
Exercise and Arthritis
Given that arthritic conditions can make it painful or difficult to move various joints in the body, it might seem as though physical activity is not a wise idea, but this could not be further from the truth. Exercise is actually a great way to fight back against the symptoms that accompany arthritis.
As with any exercise routine, it is important to begin at an easy, moderate level and then use a slow progression with regard to levels of duration and intensity. Walking, swimming, weight lifting, and yoga are all examples of activities that can be rather beneficial in reducing the negative effectives of arthritis symptoms.
Exercise improves these conditions by improving flexibility, range of motion, and muscular strength. An added benefit is that a regular exercise routine can promote a healthy bodyweight, which is essential for keeping excessive pressure off affected joints.
Dietary Choices and Gout
It is important to understand that dietary choices play a key role in this particular form of arthritis. Foods that lead to the production of heightened levels of uric acid should be limited or avoided altogether, including meat, seafood, alcoholic beverages, sweets, and highly-processed carbohydrates.
That may sound like a lot of food choices, but a diet centered on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and low-fat dairy can keep the condition at bay and reduce the occurrence of gout attacks.
An appropriate treatment plan will depend on the severity and specific cause of arthritis and the patient being treated. Conservative care measures include the use of medications, physical therapy, assistive devices (canes, walkers, etc.), and hot and cold therapy.
If we can treat an arthritic condition successfully with nonsurgical methods, we will do so, but sometimes surgery is the best choice. This often entails either joint fusion or joint replacement to correct the condition and provide the necessary relief.
Arthritis Care in Manalapan, NJ
If you or a loved one is suffering with arthritis pain in your feet or ankles and missing out on favorite activities, let our professionals at A Step Up Podiatry help. Contact us by calling (732) 446-7136 or schedule your appointment through our online form today.