Arthritis

Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States. It can occur at any age, and literally means “pain within a joint.” Although there is no cure for arthritis, there are many treatment options available. It is important to seek help early so that treatment can begin as soon as possible. With treatment, people with arthritis are able to manage pain, stay active, and live fulfilling lives, often without surgery.

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Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative or “wear and tear” arthritis, is a common problem for many people after they reach middle age. Over the years, the smooth, gliding surface covering the ends of bones (cartilage) becomes worn and frayed. This results in inflammation, swelling, and pain in the joint.

Cause

Many factors increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis. Because the ability of cartilage to heal itself decreases as we age, older people are more likely to develop the disease. Other risk factors include obesity and family history of the disease.

Rheumatoid

Unlike osteoarthritis which follows a predictable pattern in certain joints, rheumatoid arthritis is a system-wide disease. It is an inflammatory disease where the patient’s own immune system attacks and destroys cartilage.

Cause

The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not known. Although it is not an inherited disease, researchers believe that some people have genes that make them more susceptible. There is usually a “trigger,” such as an infection or environmental factor, which activates the genes. When the body is exposed to this trigger, the immune system begins to produce substances that attack the joint. This is what may lead to the development of rheumatoid arthritis.

Post-Traumatic

Post-traumatic arthritis can develop after an injury to the foot or ankle. This type of arthritis is similar to osteoarthritis and may develop years after a fracture, severe sprain, or ligament injury.

Cause

Fractures – particularly those that damage the joint surface – and dislocations are the most common injuries that lead to this type of arthritis. An injured joint is about seven times more likely to become arthritic, even if the injury is properly treated. In fact, following injury, your body can secrete hormones that stimulate the death of your cartilage cells.

Treatments

There is no cure for arthritis but there are a number of treatments that may help relieve the pain and disability it can cause.

Lifestyle Modifications

Some changes in your daily life can help relieve the pain of arthritis and slow the progression of the disease. These changes include minimizing activities that aggravate the condition, switching from high-impact activities to lower impact activities, or losing weight to reduce stress on the joints.

Physical Therapy

Specific exercises can help increase range of motion and flexibility, as well as help strengthen the muscles in your foot and ankle.

Assistive Devices

Wearing a brace—such as an ankle-foot orthosis (AFO)—may help improve mobility. In addition, wearing shoe inserts (orthotics) or custom-made shoes with stiff soles and rocker bottoms can help minimize pressure on the foot and decrease pain.

Medications

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, can help reduce swelling and relieve pain. In addition, cortisone is a very effective anti-inflammatory agent that can be injected into an arthritic joint.

Surgical Treatment

Your doctor may recommend surgery if your pain causes disability and is not relieved with nonsurgical treatment. The type of surgery will depend on the type and location of arthritis and the impact of the disease on your joints.

Lowcountry Orthopaedics’ Foot & Ankle Team

William Corey, MD

Contact Us

Office Phone

(843) 797-5050

Office Headquarters

2880 Tricom Street
North Charleston, SC 29406

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