Arthritis is characterised by inflammation and damage to the cartilage and lining of the body's joints. it can cause pain, stiffness, redness, warmth and swelling. Arthritis is a major cause of foot pain because each foot hass 3 joints that can become affected by the disease. There are several different types of arthritis, the most commonly seen are described below.
OSTEOARTHRITIS is the most common usually affecting people over the age of 50 and known as 'wear and tear' within the joints. Movement becomes difficult and painful. The pain and swelling becomes worse while standing or walking and stiffness usually occurs after periods of rest.
RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS can develop at any age but usually presents in the 20-40 age range and is more prevalent in women. There is no known cause for this condition. it can cause severe deformities of the joints particularly hands and feet, and is the most crippling form of the disease.
GOUT is caused by a build up of uric acid crystals in the joint. it most commonly affects the big toe and the ankle and is very painful to walk. Gout causes a red, hot, swollen, painful joint with a sudden onset and usually lasting 1-2 weeks. Men are more likely to develop gout than women and it may be recurrent in nature requiring ongoing medication.
PSORIATIC ARTHRITIS again is an inflammatory arthritis affceting up to 30% of people who have psoriasis. It usually coincides with the chronic skin condition, stiffness in small joints (fingers, toes, wrists) and can cause nail changes such as discolouration and thickenening of toenails, nail pitting and nail bed separation. Achilles tendon problems can also be seen with this type of arthritis.
Forefoot problems such as bunions, hammer, claw or mallet toes can result from arthritis. Problems can also develop in the midfoot, heel and ankle due to joint erosion and loss of the body's natural shock absorption.
Conservative management (non surgical) of the arthritic foot can include removal of painful hard skin and/or corns, use of foot supports or orthotics and proper footwear.