Our Award-Winning Physicians Can Help Relieve Your Arthritic Pain
Arthritis, which simply refers to any type of joint pain or disease, commonly affects the joints of the feet and ankles. There are many different arthritic conditions—more than 100 different types, in fact. The three that we see most frequently at rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis, and gout.
In this systemic disease, portions of your immune system are trigger to mistakenly attack your own healthy joints. This frequently affects the hands and feet, and will cause an inflammation of the synovium (joint lining). Eventually, long-term inflammation and damage to cartilage and bones can result in permanent deterioration and deformity of the joint. The deformities can become so severe that they limit function and mobility.
RA tends to be hereditary and often one will note a parent or other close family member afflicted with the same condition.
Signs and Symptoms of Rhuematoid Arthritis
The lining of the joints (synovium) produces fluid that allows the ends of bone to glide smoothly against each other. With RA, the synovium thickens and produces excess joint fluid and inflammatory reactions that result in joint swelling.
Symptoms tend to involve hands and feet, and quite often are symmetrical (in other words, the same joints on each foot are affected). Pain is intense in the morning upon arising or getting up after sitting, and tends to persist 30-45 minutes or longer. One may begin to notice deformities and dislocations of the toes, development of bunions and hammertoes, heel pain, flattening of the feet, or even nodules or lumps that are painful or rub against shoes.
Diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis
During your appointment, your doctor will perform a history and physical examination. You will be asked about your symptoms and be examined thoroughly. The doctor will look for joint swelling, pain upon range of motion, and area of maximal pain.
X-rays might be recommended, possibly alongside other imaging such as an MRI or CT scans. This not only helps us assess the involved joint, but also evaluate adjacent muscles and tendons that may be affected by the arthritic condition. Blood tests may also be ordered to assist in the diagnosis.
Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Conservative (nonsurgical) and surgical options will need to be determined following diagnosis, based on the extent of the arthritic process that exists. Nonsurgical treatments are generally preferred as they have fewer associated risks and complications, and often provide satisfactory relief.
Various forms of conservative treatments may include medications, orthotic inserts, accommodative shoes, aspiration of joint fluid (drawing out fluid), steroid injections, physical therapy, and coordinated treatments with other specialists. RA, however, is a progressive condition and may lead to continued deterioration of the joint. Because of this, surgery may eventually be necessary to alleviate the symptoms to an acceptable level.
Surgical treatment of RA is considered when conservative measures fail. The goal of surgery is to reduce pain and improve general function. Many factors should be considered when contemplating surgery, including various social and lifestyle factors that can affect the post-operative course of care and recovery.
Arthritis Care in Waco
If your foot and ankle joints are in pain, trust the podiatric experts at Waco Foot & Ankle to provide an accurate diagnosis and an effective treatment remedy. You can request an appointment online, or call our office directly at (254) 776-6995.