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Arthritis: Wearing Out Your Joints

Erosion is a powerful force in nature. It can flatten hills and carve canyons, given enough time. It’s not just limited to the environment, either. Time and wear can cause erosion-like effects inside your body, too. When this happens to your joints, the painful wear and tear is called arthritis.

Inflammation between Bones

Arthritis is actually a general term use to describe pain and inflammation in a joint, so it encompasses several different conditions. Since you have so many joints in your lower limbs, you have many locations for pain and stiffness to develop. You can have discomfort in the more obvious places, like your toes or ankles, or in areas you might not expect, such as your midfoot. You end up with aching pain, stiffness, and difficulty moving or using your feet and ankles.

Irritating the Bone Tissue: Types of Joint Damage

There are several types of this condition that impact the lower limbs, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, trauma-induced damage, gout, and psoriasis-related joint pain. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of the condition. It’s a slow breakdown over time of the protective cartilage and other layers over the ends of your bones. The hard tissues end up grinding together and causing pain and stiffness. General wear and tear is the usual culprit. As you get older, the problem progresses and may become more debilitating.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease . For unknown reasons, your body attacks the lining of your joints and causes stiffness, swelling, irritation, and deformities. It tends to impact the smaller joints in the lower limbs first, then may progress to the larger ones with time. Trauma-induced joint problems develop after a serious injury. Sharp force or an incorrect motion damages the cartilage, allowing your movements to then inflame the bones.

Gout is actually caused by a buildup of uric acid between your bones. As these little crystals fill the space in your joint, they grind against the cartilage and cause sudden, sharp, even debilitating pain. Often the discomfort strikes all at once and lasts for several days at a time. Psoriasis-related joint issues are a complication of the autoimmune disorder. While the condition typically stays on the skin, sometimes it can irritate and break down the joints tissues as well.

Handling the Joint Pain

Managing any arthritic condition depends on the type of damage and how it developed in the first place. Dr. Paul C. LaFata and our staff at West Lawn Podiatry Associates will carefully examine your lower limbs and determine the source of your discomfort. From there we can help you develop a plan to maintain as much range of motion in your feet as possible, as well as relieve your pain.

You may need to change your footwear to reduce the pressure on your joints and lower limbs. Shoes with sufficient padding, or even orthotics to help support the foot structures, can minimize the strain on the feet. Stiff-soles shoes that restrict how much your foot bends when you walk may help limit the wear and tear, too. More severe conditions may need braces to restrict motion. Physical therapy to help relax and loosen stiff joints may relieve some pain. Sometimes medications, including direct injections, may reduce the irritation between the bones. Diet changes to limit inflammation -inducing foods may help as well. In severe cases, surgery may be your best option.

Pennsylvania Foot Experts Are Here to Help

Arthritis can be a painful problem that dramatically impacts your ability to participate in regular activities, but help is available. There are ways to reduce the irritation between the bones and relieve your discomfort. The sooner you take care of the problem, the easier it will be to manage the condition. If you have painful joints, set up a visit at West Lawn Podiatry Associates, serving the Reading and West Lawn, PA, area to see how we can help. Call (610) 678-4581 or send us a request online to make an appointment.