Foot & Ankle Arthritis
Foot Pain Specialties
A source of severe joint pain, arthritis is the leading cause of physical disability within the United States. While sufferers often find relief through attentive treatment and care, there is no cure for the condition, which may grow progressively worse over time. Of the arthritic forms affecting the ankle and foot, the most common are: osteo-, rheumatoid, and post-traumatic.
Degenerative in nature, osteoarthritis is characterized by the gradual wear-and-tear of your joint cartilage. Once smooth surfaces will become worn and rigid, causing natural gliding movements to become inhibited and uncomfortable. Damage associated with this form of arthritis is often accompanied by painful inflammation and swelling, which will decrease your ability to extend, bend, or rotate your ankle and foot.
While aging is often associated with the diagnosis of osteoarthritis, factors such as obesity and family history can also affect your likelihood of developing the disease. Body weight may be especially influential in cases of lower extremity arthritis, as both your ankles and feet enable overarching physical support and mobility.
Unlike other arthritic forms, rheumatoid arthritis affects your body system-wide, rather than impacting a specific area or joint system. The disease occurs when your immune system attacks and breaks down cartilage, resulting in severe inflammation and potential disfigurement.
Foot and ankle pain, as well as the presence of bunions and hammer toes, are common traits of rheumatoid arthritis. Formal diagnosis can be made through completion of blood test, which will reveal whether an antibody called the ‘rheumatoid factor’ is present.
Any foot or ankle injury may potentially result in the presence of post-traumatic arthritis; however, fractures, dislocations, and instances of joint surface damage are most frequently associated with onset. Proper care for the immediate injury is also important to the long-term disease prevention, as an injured joint is around seven times more likely to develop osteoarthritis.
Following diagnosis of foot or ankle arthritis, Dr. Weaver will work with you to identify the best approach for comprehensive treatment and care. Initially, nonsurgical efforts will likely be prescribed for the alleviation of pain and discomfort, including:
- Medications for pain and inflammation reduction
- Steroid injections
- Physical therapy and exercise
In addition, approaches to weight and nutrition management may also be prescribed for ongoing relief.
If these minimally invasive approaches do not provide the desired level of relief, Dr. Biggs may recommend surgical intervention. Common options for arthritis patients include:
- Arthroscopic Debridement
- Joint Fusion
- Joint Replacement
As the mass of your body weight rests upon your feet and ankles, special precautions must be taken during the period of post-op recovery. It will be important to keep your foot elevated for the recommended amount of time, likely one to two weeks. Likewise, all prescribed exercises and physical therapy approaches should be maintained on a frequent, scheduled basis. In most cases, full recovery may take up to nine months, as based on case severity and the nature of your surgery.
Foot and Ankle Arthritis Treatment in Bonita Springs
Dr. Weaver is a provider of comprehensive orthopaedic care, and an expert in arthritis of the lower extremities. To schedule an appointment, contact the Joint Replacement Institute’s Naples office at 239-261-2663.