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Arthritis in Feet

Although arthritis in feet isn't as common, the pain and debilitation from it can be life changing. If you have chronic pain in your feet, osteoarthritis may be why. Learn to manage it here.



The foot is a highly specialized structure with more bones and joints than any other body part. You would think that means more places to get osteoarthritis. Feet are designed well, though, spreading your body weight over a large surface area and this design means only a couple of the foot joints are likely to get it.

The Ankle

Degeneration is most likely to happen at the ankle.

This is the joint that has the most pressure and takes most of the abuse. The shoes you wear can make a big difference to your ankle.

High heels, for example, put a lot of pressure on the ankle joint. Heels will also make your leg muscles shorten and tighten, which puts more stress on the ankle. If you wear heels regularly and have ankle pain, you are on your way to getting osteoarthritis.

Feet are resilient, and until actual bone spurs form, most pain in the foot can be helped.

Diagnosing arthritis in feet

If you have foot or ankle pain and think you have arthritis, your doctor will take a look at your foot. They will check to see if it is moving well, if it's tender to the touch or with movement, and they will probably take an x-ray. If there are no bone spurs, then arthritis has not yet formed.

Other things that can cause foot pain

Most foot pain is not arthritis. Because so many muscles attach to the feet, muscle imbalances in the leg can cause foot pain, and likewise, foot problems can cause pain further up your body.

Think of it this way, if your hip hurts you probably favor it when you walk. Your other leg (and foot) take more abuse and have increased pressure on them.

A great analogy that I use often is to think of your feet as tires on a car. When the pressure on the tires is perfect and evenly balanced, you get many miles out of them and your car runs really well (optimum gas mileage, no pressure on the axles, and the like). When one (or both) tires is low, it affects the entire car.

This actually just happened to a friend of mine. Someone had told her to run her tires under-inflated for a few months (I don't know the reasoning behind it). She did, but she forgot to re-inflate them. A little over a year later, her tires were cracked and unsafe and she had to buy an entire new set!

Your body just isn't that different. Any imbalance will make everything wear out faster.

Treatment options for arthritis in feet

First of all, you have to make sure you're wearing good shoes most of the time. Shoes with plenty of room in the toes and support of your arch will keep extra pressure off your feet.

Shoe inserts or orthotics can add an additional level of support and comfort. The advantage of them is they can be moved to different pairs of shoes as you change clothes.

Stretching the calf muscles well will help decrease pressure on your ankle. Rolling your foot on a tennis ball can help with muscle pains, and giving your foot and leg a mini massage every night can help with cramping and pain. It also helps with blood flow to the foot.

Seeing a chiropractor to evaluate your foot's movement and to adjust the joints of the foot can be very effective at decreasing pain.

Gout is a special type of arthritis

Gouty arthritis is a special type of foot arthritis where uric acid crystals build up inside the joint. It is probably the most painful of type of arthritis in feet. For information on how to avoid gout, click here.



Related pages that may interest you

Learn how to prevent your arthritis from getting worse

Solutions to help you ease arthritis pain

If you need a cane, read this to make sure it's set properly. An improperly set cane height can cause you further troubles.



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The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest her or his patients in the care of the human frame, in a proper diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease. ~Thomas A. Edison

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