Description: Arthritis is a general term for a variety of conditions that cause inflammation and degeneration of the cartilage and lining of the joints. Arthritis can occur in any joint and is common in the feet and ankles. Arthritis is often considered a disease of the aging but can occur at any age. There are many different types of arthritis and some of the most common are as follows:
Osteoarthritis results in a deterioration of the cartilage in the joint. This type of arthritis is mechanical. Foot joints typically include the first metatarsophalangeal joint and midfoot joints. Sometimes the ankle can also be involved. Symptoms are localized to the affected joint and include pain and stiffness with activity that is relieved by rest. Joint swelling and enlargement are also noted.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is the most severe form of joint deterioration affecting people of all ages. This type is inflammatory whereby the destruction occurs from the inside of the joint outward. It can lead to conditions such as bunions, hammer toes, claw toes and painful nodules on the bottom of the foot.
Gouty Arthritis (Gout) is a condition caused by deposits of sodium uric crystals in the joints due to a problem with metabolism. Unexcreted uric acid can pool in blood and tissues and cause needle-like uric acid crystals to accumulate around the small joints. Rub the balls of your feet and the base of your toes really hard. Do you feel graininess? This is uric acid crystal build up. Typically it involves the big toe; but other joints like ankle, knee, wrist, elbow and fingers may be affected. Men are most susceptible to gout.
Psoriatic Arthritis often causes people to experience a type of inflammatory joint disease along with the skin disorder psoriasis. The psoriasis condition involves discomfort and progressive disfigurement. The arthritis element involves joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. It usually strikes one side of the body, involves the most distal joints of the fingers and toes, and affects both genders equally.
Footwear: Shoes and socks can help control pain by dissipating impact. Simply choosing a shoe with a deep, wide toe-box and no internal seams can prevent rubbing and the pain it can cause. Sometimes more complicated modifications are required, such as rebuilding a shoe with a rocker sole to help take the load off the ball of the foot and reduce joint movement in the forefoot and therefore, reduce pain.
How can orthotics help? Overall, the objectives for foot orthotics for a patient with arthritis are to: relieve pressure, transfer pressure, limit or restrict motion, replace lost motion, provide cushion and shock absorption, accommodate deformities and provide support.