If you are over the age of 60 years and suffer from aching feet, there is a good chance you may be suffering from foot arthritis. This is a form of osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative condition in which the cartilage between the bones wears away. This allows the bones to grind against one another, which can lead to pain and swelling. If left untreated, foot arthritis can cause the foot to become deformed.
Causes of Foot Arthritis
In most cases, foot arthritis is the result of years of wear and tear on the joint cartilage. Many people start to notice the first signs of damage to their feet by their 40s. According to the Arthritis Foundation, nearly 50 percent of people will develop arthritis foot pain by their 60s or 70s.
Symptoms of Foot Arthritis
The following are common symptoms of foot arthritis:
• Tenderness or pain in the joints of the foot
• Difficulty walking or bearing weight
• Joint swelling and stiffness
How is Foot Arthritis Diagnosed?
If your doctor suspects you have foot arthritis based on your symptoms and history, they will likely order imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis. X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans can all be used to determine the extent and severity of the joint damage.
Treatment of Foot Arthritis
A doctor specializing in foot and ankle problems can help ease your arthritis pain by recommending a variety of treatment options, including:
• Anti-inflammatory medications
• Physical therapy
• Steroid injections
• Weight loss
• Custom-made orthotics
If arthritis has caused severe joint damage, surgery may be required to clean out or replace the joint.
How You Can Ease Arthritis Foot Pain
The most important thing you can do to keep your feet healthy and happy is to choose the proper footwear.
• Shoes should follow the contour of your foot.
• Avoid high heels and narrow-toed shoes.
• Avoid slip-on shoes that do not provide arch support.
• The soles should be flexible and provide cushioning.
Other steps you can take to reduce foot pain include:
• Do exercises that gently stretch the Achilles tendon and the tendons in the ball of your foot.
• A foot massage promotes blood flow and improves flexibility, which may help relieve arthritis foot pain.
• Topical medications that contain capsaicin help reduce levels of a substance that transmits arthritis pain signals in the body.
• Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatories can reduce joint pain inflammation and pain. Be sure to follow package dosing information and do not combine them with other pain relievers unless directed by your doctor.