How Arthritis Can Affect Your Feet

7 min read

Arthritis - Foot Solutions

Arthritis causes pain and inflammation in the joints and affects many people throughout their lives. There are more than thirty joints in the feet and this means that they are often affected by arthritis, which can limit movement and mobility. Reducing the pressure on the joints can make a huge difference, and our experienced team will always be happy to share our expertise on how to do this.

If you or someone you love is living with arthritis, don’t despair as there are many ways to alleviate the pain and cope with the condition. Read on to find out more about how arthritis can affect your feet and pop in and see us at Foot Solutions to make the most of our expertise.

Arthritis: What is it?

There are several different types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, which is the most common type. The three main types of arthritis that may affect the feet are:

Osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis develops with age and is more common in women and most often affects the joints in the knees, hips, hands and back. It can lead to pain and stiffness in the joints and keeping active is a great way to combat this. Exercising will reduce the pressure on the joints and strengthen the muscles around it, which can help to stabilise the joint.

Gout. Gout is an inflammatory arthritic condition that causes pain and swelling in specific joints, most common the big toe. Gout is caused by an excess of uric acid in the body and can cause the skin to look shiny and feel red and hot in the affected area. Your diet can cause higher urate levels, and alcohol and red meat are particular culprits that lead to this condition. Medications can be helpful here, and avoiding the trigger foods is likely to help solve the problem.

Rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune condition that causes the immune system to attack the tissues of the body and cause inflammation in the joints. This can lead to pain and limited mobility, and can cause lasting damage to the bones and joints, as well as stiffness, fatigue and general illness. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect joints on both sides of the body and often starts in the hands and feet, most commonly in older adults, particularly women. Treatment may include medication and lifestyle modifications.

If you have persistent swelling or stiffness in your joints, or if the joints are painful to touch, it is important to see a doctor to find out what is causing the problem and how to treat it.

Arthritis in the Feet

Arthritis often affects the feet, with more than ninety percent of people with rheumatoid arthritis experiencing symptoms in the feet and ankles. The way you experience the pain in your feet can give you clues about the type of arthritis you have. For instance, if you notice pain and swelling in the joint that connects your big toe to your foot, you are likely to have osteoarthritis. If your pain is affecting the same joints in both feet, this is more likely to indicate rheumatoid arthritis and gout is most likely to affect the big toe itself.

There are many different ways to treat arthritis, and the best treatment for you will depend on the type and severity of your condition. For instance, weight bearing exercise is extremely beneficial to those developing osteoarthritis, while dietary changes are more appropriate if the pain is due to gout.

How to Relieve Foot Pain and Arthritis

When you have pain in your feet, this can be debilitating and stop you from fully embracing the opportunities life gives you. There are many things you can try to relieve foot pain that is due to arthritis and here at Foot Solutions, we will help you to find the best options for you. You might consider the following:

1. Pain medication. When arthritis is affecting your feet, you may find that pain medication is helpful to relieve swelling and bring comfort. There are several options available over the counter and on prescription, so it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor or pharmacist to find the best options for you. Aspirin and ibuprofen are often suggested to combat the pain, redness and swelling that arthritis can bring, and you should check that these are suitable for you before beginning to take them on a regular basis.

2. Specialist footwear. The shoes you wear can make a huge difference to the health of your feet, and this is especially true when you have arthritis. Your footwear should be professionally fitted, and should be comfortable and supportive with a good level of cushioning to protect your feet. Arthritis in the feet can lead to problems such as hammertoes and bunions and this can mean you need specialist footwear to accommodate these.

3. Exercising regularly. Exercise is vital for your physical and mental health, and maintaining a healthy weight is a key element in preventing health problems as you age. Arthritis is commonly associated with excess body weight and this can also increase inflammation, worsening pain and swelling. Finding a form of exercise you enjoy can make it a pleasure to maintain your fitness and reach a healthy bodyweight, and regular walking and swimming can help to reduce joint pain and soreness.

4. Ice or heat. Ice treatment can be useful in any situation where you wish to reduce inflammation and pain, and this includes arthritic foot pain. Cold therapy works by constricting the blood vessels in the muscles around the affected area so that blood flow to the joints is reduced and this reduces swelling and inflammation in turn. Regular icing with a cool pack or ice wrapped in a cloth can help you to manage the swelling and pain of arthritis. Using heat can also help to relax the muscles and ease the joints, and a hot shower or bath can be a good solution.

5. Custom orthotics. Custom orthotics fit inside your shoes and change the way your feet move in your shoes, which can help to make walking more comfortable and give you more cushioning and support. Your custom orthotics can be made to fit each foot separately, so that you get the most from them, and many people are amazed at the difference these small devices can make. Here at Foot Solutions, we are on hand to assess your gait and the shape of your feet to help you find the best fit, creating custom orthotics that are as unique as you are.

6. Alternative therapies. Although there is no irrefutable evidence of benefit, many people find alternative treatments very helpful for arthritis and get a great deal of relief from taking supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin, which can help to restore joint cartilage. Turmeric is another popular choice, as it has helpful anti-inflammatory properties, and creams that contain capsaicin receive good feedback when used topically on the feet. You can experiment with these options and find out what works best for your body.

7. Dietary changes. There are many foods that can aggravate arthritis as they contribute to inflammation in the body, and it is easy to experiment with your diet to see if it makes a difference to the pain you are experiencing. Consuming a lot of dairy products and sugars, for instance, can dramatically increase inflammation and this can worsen the pain in your joints. Following an anti-inflammatory diet could be very helpful in reducing pain and swelling, and this may improve your mobility in the longer term.

8. Ask about medical options. In cases of severe arthritis, your doctor may recommend steroid injections that can reduce inflammation and pain. These can be effective for days or for weeks, and are a reliable option for many people living with severe pain. Surgery is another option for extreme cases and this may be offered in circumstances where it can help to decrease pain and improve mobility.

Find Comfortable Shoes at Foot Solutions

Here at Foot Solutions, our friendly team of experts will help you to take care of your feet whether you are living with arthritis or preparing for a marathon. We can help you with painful foot conditions as well as finding footwear that will support and protect your feet every day. We will work with you to find the best options for your unique gait and lifestyle and you will feel the difference straight away.

We are delighted to introduce new ranges of comfortable, stylish shoes, including running shoes, walking sandals and work shoes, and our priority is to help you to find footwear that doesn’t compromise on comfort or style. We also offer services such as custom orthotics and foot health consultations, and we will be happy to discuss these with you when you visit our store.