Foot & Ankle Arthritis Treatment
When you think of arthritis you don’t always think of the feet or ankles. Most of us are aware of arthritis in the hands and knees. Well, arthritis does not stop at the knees.
What exactly is arthritis? By definition, it is an inflammatory process of a joint. Initially, the joint or joints can become swollen and the surrounding capsule can become inflamed. Over time the joint will start to break down because of the inflammatory process and the cartilage will deteriorate and eventually the joint can be bone on bone which can be very painful. There are really 2 types of arthritis:
1) Osteoarthritis – which is a breakdown of the joint due to injury or just wear and tear. It affects 10% of the population. In the foot or ankle, this is quite common and you see this in the older population or in athletes. Osteoarthritis is most common in joints that bear weight — such as the knees, hips, feet, and spine. It often comes on gradually over months or even years. Except for the pain in the affected joint, you usually do not feel sick, and there is no unusual fatigue or tiredness as there is with some other types of arthritis. Cartilage is a slippery material that covers the ends of bones and serves as the body’s shock absorber. As more damage occurs, the cartilage starts to wear away, or it doesn’t work as well as it once did to cushion the joint. As an example, the extra stress on knees from being overweight can cause damage to knee cartilage. That, in turn, causes the cartilage to wear out faster than normal. This also happens in the ankle and the big toe joints.
2) Rheumatoid arthritis and all other genetic types are the rest – This is more of an immune or inflammatory diagnosis and has many different types with RA being the most common. There are many more that can affect the body. Blood work is often needed to make the diagnosis and sometimes this does not even work. Gout also falls into this category as well and is an inflammatory arthritis that affects the joints due to a problem with protein synthesis in the body. Medication is often needed to treat the symptoms of Gout as there is no cure. Patients with Gout are more difficult to operate on because of the crystals that form in and around the joints.
Patients with severe deformity of their feet due to rheumatoid arthritis can achieve a pain-free foot and be able to wear regular sensible shoes with a forefoot reconstruction procedure. Often times the toes are mangled and the ball of the foot are prominent due to the deformities and breakdown of joints. We can reconstruct the foot and provide full relief of pain and provide you with a much better foot to walk on and wear shoes. Orthotics can also be a great adjunct or a standalone option for some patients.
We are experts in dealing with joint problems of the ankle and the foot. We use state of the art medical and surgical treatment to try and repair or salvage your joints.
In cases where the joints are too far gone, our physicians have been trained on all of the latest implants available in the foot and ankle. Not everyone is a candidate for an implant and careful biomechanical evaluation is needed in order to assess and make sure you are a candidate. The success rate of implants will vary from patient to patient but there is no guarantee that the implants will last forever and sometimes further surgery is needed.