Are you living with the pain of foot arthritis or ankle arthritis and need to find relief? Here at our podiatry practice in Powder Springs, Georgia, we can help minimize the pain while preserving mobility and even helping limit the pace of disease progression. How does that happen? There are several treatment options available for foot and ankle arthritis, and we’ll review those in a moment. First, we’ll explore the causes of arthritis in your feet and ankles, and why the condition is such a serious one.

Understanding Osteoarthritis of the Foot and Ankle

Osteoarthritis is a condition characterized by swelling and inflammation in the lining and cartilage of your joints. When you have arthritis, you’ll experience pain and stiffness in the joints. And, because you can develop osteoarthritis anywhere you have joints, the feet and ankles—with their 66 combined joints and 52 combined bones, are common targets.

Ankle Arthritis and Foot Arthritis: What are the Causes woman holding foot in pain from ankle arthritis

People of any age or background can develop arthritis, but certain factors increase your risk. The most common cause is your genes—if your parents or grandparents developed arthritis, you are more likely to deal with this condition as well. In addition to family history, risk factors for osteoarthritis include:

•    Prior foot or ankle trauma, particularly in spots where injuries failed to properly heal  
•    Viral, fungal or bacterial infections that penetrate your joints  
•    Having Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), colitis, or Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA)

Because we depend on our feet for mobility, developing arthritis can severely impact your quality of life. Plus, it’s harder to find relief from ankle or foot arthritis, because you’re putting pressure on those tender joints every time you stand or move. In fact, for some people, the pain becomes severe enough to limit their mobility. Fortunately, that doesn’t have to happen to you. By seeking care for arthritis as soon as you notice symptoms, we can slow down disease progression; manage your pain; and keep you active for years to come.

Identifying Early Stage Arthritis Symptoms in the Feet

When disease is just beginning to set in, symptoms of foot and ankle arthritis are less detectable. Still, if you catch arthritis in its earliest stages, treatment is much more effective. Notice any of these warning signs? Make an immediate appointment with Dr. Alvin Cowans at our podiatry practice in the Lost Mountain neighborhood of Powder Springs.

Early stage arthritis symptoms include:  

•    A change in the shape of your foot, even if it’s just a new bunion  
•    Intermittent joint pain or tenderness.
•    Joints in the foot or ankle that appear red or swollen, or feel warm to the touch
•    Skin rashes near your ankle or foot joints
•    Stiffness throughout the day, especially first thing in the morning  
•    Limited joint range of motion  

Foot Arthritis: Can it Affect Only One Foot?

There are no rules when it comes to ankle or foot arthritis: one or both limbs can be impacted.  However, disease that starts by attacking one foot will likely progress to your other foot, unless you seek treatment for osteoarthritis.

Treating Ankle Arthritis and Foot Arthritis

The sooner we diagnose arthritis, the better we will be able to minimize your symptoms and control disease progression. You see, there is no cure for osteoarthritis. And once the disease damages cartilage or bones, that can’t be reversed.

For that reason, we must begin treatment as soon as possible. We’ll diagnose your condition, determine the level of progression, and come up with treatment plans to minimize inflammation and preserve optimal functioning in your joints. And, the sooner you come into the office, the easier it will be to meet those treatment goals.

First Line of Defense: Standard Treatment for Foot Arthritis

As soon as we’ve detected foot or ankle arthritis, we’re going to start focusing on your exercise routines. We’ll want to keep you moving and engaged in regular, low-impact workouts. If necessary, we’ll also suggest physical therapy to make sure that you have enough mobility in your joints to safely and comfortably work through your routines.

Most patients will also benefit from some kind of medication to manage arthritis pain. Typically, a daily dose of ibuprofen will do the trick. However, some patients can’t tolerate this treatment protocol.

Advanced Care for Arthritis Pain in the Foot and Ankle

When foot arthritis or ankle arthritis is allowed to advance, you may experience joint damage. In such cases, surgery to fuse your joints may be necessary, in order to provide you with stability and to preserve mobility.

However, this procedure is very invasive. And, as part of the recovery process, you will need to stay off your affected foot or ankle for up to six months after surgery. That’s a long time to be incapacitated, and we understand that not everyone will be able to take that time off in order to heal.
Don’t worry—other treatment options are available. And they can be equally effective, without requiring surgery or extended down time. One such option is a special brace called an Ankle-Foot Orthotic, or AFO. Made to fit your specific anatomy, and designed to fit into your own shoes, this brace minimizes motion in the foot or ankle bones that have suffered arthritic damage. In this way, it can reduce irritation to your joints. And, in turn, it dramatically reduces your foot and ankle arthritis pain.

Now, this treatment option won’t provide the same results as surgery. However, it does offer an effective way to manage your arthritis pain. And, as an alternative to arthritis surgery, it can buy you additional time before surgery is your only available treatment option.

Are you looking for relief from the pain of foot arthritis or ankle arthritis? Do you need to preserve your mobility, protect yourself from joint damage, and find a way to keep doing the things you love? We’re here to help! Simply schedule a consultation with Dr. Cowans, and he can create an arthritis treatment plan tailored to address your symptoms and work within your lifestyle needs!