Foot and Ankle Arthritis
What is the Osteoarthritis of the foot and ankle?
Osteoarthritis is a condition characterized by the breakdown and eventual loss of cartilage in one or more joints. Cartilage protects and cushions the bones during movement. When cartilage deteriorates or is lost, symptoms develop that can restrict one’s ability to easily perform daily activities.
As the most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis affects millions of Americans. Some people refer to osteoarthritis simply as arthritis, even though there are many different types of arthritis.
Osteoarthritis appears at various joints throughout the body, including the hands, feet, spine, hips and knees. In the foot, the disease most frequently occurs in the big toe, although it is also often found in the midfoot and ankle
People with osteoarthritis in the foot or ankle experience, in varying degrees, one or more of the following:
Pain and stiffness in the joint
Swelling in or near the joint
Difficulty walking or bending the joint
Some patients with osteoarthritis also develop a bone spur (a bony protrusion) at the affected joint. Shoe pressure may cause pain at the site of a bone spur, and in some cases, blisters or calluses may form over its surface. Bone spurs can also limit the movement of the joint
To help relieve symptoms, we may begin treating osteoarthritis with one or more of the following approaches:
Oral medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, are often helpful in reducing the inflammation and pain. Occasionally, a prescription for a steroid medication is needed to adequately reduce symptoms.
Orthotic devices. Custom orthotic devices (shoe inserts) are often prescribed to provide support to improve the foot’s mechanics or cushioning to help minimize pain.
Bracing. Bracing, which restricts motion and supports the joint, can reduce pain during walking and can help prevent further deformity.
Steroid injections. In some cases, steroid injections are applied to the affected joint to deliver anti-inflammatory medication.
When Is Surgery Needed?
Here at Texas Foot and Ankle Consultants, we try to avoid surgery at all cost. When osteoarthritis has progressed substantially or has failed to improve with nonsurgical treatment, surgery may be recommended. In advanced cases, surgery may be the only option. The goal of surgery is to decrease pain and improve function. We will consider a number of factors when selecting the procedure best suited to the patient’s condition and lifestyle.