The skeletal system of our body contains numerous joints. A joint is where two bones come together that allows motion. Between the two bones is a wafer of tissue attached to each bone that is called cartilage. This cartilage is what protects the hard bone from contacting.
When this cartilage is damaged or wears out, the two bones begin rubbing on each other. This condition is called Arthritis.
Any Joint of our body is can become arthritic, but certain joints are more prone than others. The joints of our feet and lower extremity have a great deal of pressure that passes through them at the same time that movement is required. This combination sets a person up for joint wear and tear.
Typically when a person has arthritis they will get slow onset of pain in the joint. As time goes on, pain becomes worse because the bones rub more and more on each other. The common complaints will be pain and occasional swelling. As the condition continues bone spurs (bony outgrowths) are frequently noted around the joint. In most cases this will limit the range of motion of the joint. If these spurs occur in the feet then shoes are difficult to wear because of the rubbing that happens between the spur and shoe.
There are many causes of arthritis and the exact cause should be determine prior to any treatment. Studies such as X-rays are very helpful in determining the extent of damage to the joint and the presence or absence of bone spurs. Blood studies can help determine the cause or type of arthritis that the person has.
Typically treatments are directed at decreasing inflammation and pain, and preventing further damage to the joints.
Early treatments may include oral anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, shoe changes, shoe inserts, or padding and strapping.
In cases where spurs are encountered or where the joint damage is significant, surgery is sometimes required to provide pain relief.