What Is Osteoarthritis?
Cartilage is the tissue that is found between bones that lets them move fluidly against each other and protects them during movement. In osteoarthritis there is a breakdown of this cartilage, leading to the pain of bone moving unprotected against the adjacent bone. This can also lead to degeneration of the joint, bone spurring, and restriction of motion. Osteoarthritis is a “wear and tear” arthritis, and is the most common form of arthritis.
Repetitive use and potential malalignment of joints can contribute to osteoarthritis. Injuries of the foot may also have a part to play.
People with osteoarthritis in the foot or ankle experience pain, stiffness, swelling, and difficulty with joint mobility.
Your podiatrist will examine the foot thoroughly, looking for swelling in the joint, limited mobility, and pain with movement. In some cases, deformity and/or enlargement (spur) of the joint may be noted. X-rays may be ordered to evaluate the extent of the disease.
To help relieve symptoms, your podiatrist may choose from a variety of methods including oral anti-inflammatories, orthotic therapy, bracing, immobilization, steroid injection or physical therapy.
When Is Surgery Needed?
When osteoarthritis has progressed substantially or failed to improve with non-surgical treatment, surgery may be recommended. In advanced cases, surgery may be the only option. The goal of surgery is to decrease pain and improve function. The foot and ankle surgeon will consider a number of factors when selecting the procedure best suited to the patient’s condition and lifestyle.