There are commercials on television all time offering a host of different medications and help for every ailment out there. Some are definitely viable, but others may come with risks and side effects. The danger comes when someone is in so much pain that they will try anything to find relief. Arthritis can do this to a person—it often brings a stiffness and aching deep in the joints that can greatly affect a person’s quality of life. Perhaps you feel it at the site of an old injury or have noticed your symptoms simply getting worse over time. It is often just accepted as “something that happens when you get old.” While it is a common problem, we want to encourage you that you don’t have to just live with it. There are many treatment options and ways to manage your symptoms, and the expert staff at Richardson Podiatry Associates can help you live life to the fullest with this condition.
Arthritis is an umbrella term for general inflammation of the bones and cartilage in a joint. Underneath this broad term you will find a number of different types; however, there is a common bond that ties them all together: damaged joints. The common symptoms that define this condition include tissue irritation, swelling, pain, aching, stiffness, and inflammation. At the site where this happens, the joint becomes compromised—it may not move like it should and is often unable to handle a lot of pressure. The disease is not limited to the elderly, as it can occur in anyone at any age.
There are three types that are most common, especially in the foot and ankle. The first is osteoarthritis, which generally affects people over 50 and develops over time. This is often called the “wear and tear” type, as the activities and stresses of life can take a toll on your joints. Over time, the cartilage that acts as a buffer between bones simply breaks down and leaves you with bones rubbing against each other. This is where the pain and stiffness come from.
The second common type is rheumatoid arthritis, which is actually an autoimmune disease. It is not completely known how this condition starts, but the immune system begins attacking the cartilage in the joints. It can be very painful and crippling, as it can change the shape of the bones in the process.
Third is post-traumatic arthritis, which can develop after repeated injury to the same area. Even after healing and recovery, the wear and tear on the joint over time can cause a breakdown within the joint. Gout and psoriasis are two other diseases that can also result in joint inflammation.
For many of our patients, the condition is a chronic problem that needs to be managed appropriately to control pain and prevent further joint damage. We have several conservative treatment options available to help keep your joints flexible and relieve any pain you have. After a thorough diagnosis to determine which type of arthritis is present, we can provide a treatment plan that is tailored to your needs and lifestyle. We may start with efforts that relieve pressure on your bones and joints through the use of custom orthotics. They are inserts for your shoes that offer extra cushioning and support for your feet, and they stabilize the foot so one area is not absorbing more impact than another. A pair of stiff-soled shoes can also restrict excess movement of painful joints. An anti-inflammatory medication can help with pain and swelling, and physical therapy is often used to improve range of motion and maintain foot strength. There are cases when these conservative measures fail to provide relief and surgery is considered.
Arthritis is painful and affects each person differently, but it does not have to take over your life. We encourage you to make an appointment with Dr. Gene Reister of Richardson Podiatry Associates. You can make a request online or call our office at (972) 690-5374. Don't spend another moment with unrelieved pain. Call us today!