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Arthritis of the foot — osteoarthritis, sometimes referred to as "degenerative arthritis" or "wear and tear arthritis" — is the most common form of arthritis in the foot, and affects virtually everyone to some degree after age 60.

"... able to walk without pain."

This is an actual wearing out of the cartilage at certain specific joints. Sometimes the cartilage tears secondary to an injury and, therefore, no longer protects the bones at the level of the joint. The patient often feels pain and stiffness, and can also experience a dull throbbing pain at night.

Sometimes the bones try to repair themselves by forming bone spurs. Any condition which puts extra stress along the area of the joints, such as repeated use, injury and obesity, can trigger arthritis of the foot.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is actually a systemic disease with a wide variety of symptoms, and can affect the entire body. Some symptoms cause mild discomfort and do not lead to serious joint deformity. In the most serious form, it can cause crippling, painful, badly-damaged joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by periods where symptoms come and go. It usually affects the joints of the body in a symmetrical pattern, such as both feet and/or both knees. The symptoms include stiffness, swelling and tenderness. Women are much more likely than men to develop rheumatoid arthritis.

Gouty Arthritis

Gouty arthritis occurs as a buildup of uric acid in the joints. Uric acid is a waste product that usually builds up in the blood stream before it passes into the urine through the kidneys. If the uric acid is high, it forms crystals that are deposited in the joints of the foot. The big toe joint is the most common joint involved. This causes extreme inflammation and pain, and causes damage to the kidneys as well.

The condition mainly affects middle-aged, overweight men; there may be some hereditary components.

The use of diuretics — medicine used to treat blood pressure — can cause gsout or make it worse. Gout is often made worse by taking aspirin.

Sometimes a gout attack can be precipitated by eating certain rich foods such as red meats or alcohol.

Podiatric Treatment

Treatment for arthritis by a podiatrist often consists of:

  1. medication to reduce pain and inflammation.
  2. exercise.
  3. physical therapy.
  4. supportive measures, including supportive shoes, custom made supports or orthotic devices. These are shoe inserts made individually for patients who need foot support.
  5. possible surgical repair is necessary for severely damaged joints.
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