Arthritis and Your Feet
Arthritis is a disease characterized by the inflammation of the cartilage and lining of the body's joints. Inflammation causes redness, warmth, pain and swelling. There are about 40 million Americans who suffer from arthritis. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, estimates that by the year 2020, about 60 million Americans will have arthritis. The primary targets for arthritis are people over the age of 50. Arthritis is a major cause of foot pain because each foot has 33 joints that can become affected by the disease.
There’s more than just one kind of arthritis that causes pain in your feet and toes.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that affects the hyaline cartilage that allows your joints to move freely. Osteoarthritis in your feet will cause considerable discomfort and swelling when walking or standing for extended periods.
Rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by deformities it causes in joints, including your feet. Rheumatoid arthritis can lead to severe, sometimes crippling forefoot problems, including bunions, hammer toes and claw toes.
Gout is a form of arthritis more commonly suffered by men than women. Uric acid crystals accumulate in and around the joints of your first toe, creating a bony protrusion.
Gout is another form of arthritis that also leads to foot complications. Excess uric acid crystals collect in and around the joints of the big toe. The big toe joint is commonly the focal point due to the stress and pressure it experiences during walking and other weight bearing activities. This often leads to severe pain in the big toe. Men are more likely to develop gouty arthritis than women.
Another type of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis. It can develop at any age and there is no known cause for this condition. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most crippling form of the disease that can affect people of all ages. It can cause severe deformities of the joints with associated fatigue of the entire body. People who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis often develop severe forefoot problems such as bunions, hammer toes, claw toes, and others.
Why Footwear Matters
Prescription medication and exercise will often alleviate arthritis symptoms. Your doctor might also recommend therapeutic shoes, orthotic inserts and customized shoe soles. Comfortable, well-made footwear can make it easier to manage your arthritis and get that exercise your doctor advises.
We at All For Legs have shoes, inserts and more for men and women living with arthritis.
• An open toe box alleviates pressure. Extra padding provides comfort and protection.
• Removable insoles allow you trade out customized inserts when necessary.
• Special rocker soles reduce strain on the joints in your feet, making it easier to walk.
Treatment and Prevention
Conservative treatment (non-surgical treatment) of the arthritic foot includes proper footwear, orthotics, and/or forefoot supports. Arthritic footwear should provide the following benefits:
High, wide toe box (high and wide space in the toe area) Removable insoles for fitting flexibility and the option to insert orthotics if necessary. Rocker Soles designed to facilitate ambulating (walking) and to reduce stress and pain at the ball-of-the-foot. Arthritic footwear should also accommodate swelling of the foot. Orthotics designed to provide comfort, support and extra cushioning are also recommended. Orthotics made with a material called Plastazote are often recommended because they mold to your feet to provide customized comfort. The proper footwear and orthotics will reduce pressure to provide a comfortable and healthy environment for the foot.
*If the problem persists, consult your foot doctor.
What Else You Can Do
To manage the arthritis in your feet, follow these simple tips:
• Always follow your doctor’s advice.
• Wear well-fitting, well-made shoes.
• Never go barefoot — not even at home.