Did you know that almost 40 million Americans are afflicted with arthritis? This disease of the joints causes pain, swelling, inflammation and loss of motion. With 33 joints each, your feet are prime targets for this disease and one we see frequently at Paul S. DeMarco, DPM. Caught early, the progression of arthritis can be slowed and the damage minimized. Left untreated, however, this disease can be very disabling and even crippling.
Forms of Arthritis
There are two main types of arthritis: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid. While both have similar symptoms, rheumatoid arthritis tends to attack the smaller joints of the toes and ankles. It is also the more serious form of the disease. Rheumatoid arthritis is a group of chronic inflammatory diseases that is complex and affects many aspects of a patient’s health. Osteoarthritis is the more common type. Basically, it is the degenerative breakdown of cartilage in the joints that occurs as you age.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Our board certified foot and ankle surgeon, Dr. Paul S. DeMarco, will start by taking a medical history. Some forms of arthritis are hereditary and your lifestyle can play a big part in the choice of treatment. Next up, a complete physical examination of your foot and ankle will be done, including x-rays (which can be taken right in our Somers Point office) to see how far the disease has progressed. The foot doctor will then determine the right treatment plan for you. Options include:
- Cortisone injections and/or oral anti-inflammatory medications to relieve pain and swelling in the joints
- Losing weight—your feet bear the load of your entire body; excess weight means extra pressure on the joints and more pain
- Physical therapy and other exercises may be prescribed to relieve pain, increase range of motion and strengthen the muscles that support the affected joints
- Custom orthotics to correct the mechanics or compensate for structural defects in your feet that may be causing excessive strain on your foot, toe or ankle joints
- Changes in footwear to designs that take pressure off afflicted joints
If you have begun to notice any stiffness or pain in the joints of your feet, don’t delay. Call our office today at: (609) 927-4894 and get the treatment you need to keep living an active lifestyle for years to come.