Osteoarthritis: What Is It?
Osteoarthritis is a medical complication that is characterized by a breakdown and gradual loss of cartilage in one or a number of joints. Cartilage is the special connective tissue that is found on the end of your bones at their joints, which cushions and protects your bones when moving. When the cartilage is lost or deteriorates, symptoms will develop that restrict your ability to comfortably perform regular activities.
Osteoarthritis is commonly called “degenerative arthritis”, which reflects the fact that it develops as an element of the aging process. It is the most common type of arthritis, and affects many millions of American people. Most people simply refer to osteoarthritis as arthritis, though there exist more than 100 different kinds of arthritis. Osteoarthritis will appear in a number of joints in the body, including the feet, hands, spine, knees and hips. When it occurs in the foot, it most often manifests in the first toe, though it can also be found in the ankle and midfoot.
Signs and Symptoms
People who suffer from osteoarthritis in San Jose will experience one or all these symptoms in varying degrees:
- Stiffness and joint pain.
- Swelling near or on the joint.
- Difficulty bending the joint or walking.
Some sufferers of osteoarthritis in San Jose may also develop a bone spur, a protrusion of bone, on the affected joint. Pressure from shoes can cause pain around the area of a bone spur, and in many cases calluses or blisters can form over the surface. Bone spurs will also create a limit on the movement in the joint.
Osteoarthritis is the result of wear and tear, as the cartilage inside the joint is worn down by repeated use and stress over time. While the cartilage gets thinner and deteriorates, the bone loses its protective coating, and will eventually start rubbing together, which causes inflammation and pain in the joint.
Osteoarthritis can also happen as the result of an injury, though it usually takes months or years for the condition to become developed. As an example, osteoarthritis in San Jose is usually caused by jamming or kicking the first toe, or through dropping something on top of it. On the other hand, osteoarthritis in San Jose that occurs in the midfoot is usually caused by a fracture, sprain or dropping something on it. Sometimes the type of injury can be a 5th metatarsal / Jone’s fracture.
Sometimes osteoarthritis in San Jose results from abnormal mechanics of the foot. People who suffer from high arches or flat feet face an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis in their feet. Flat feet results in less stable ligaments (the tissue bands that connect different bones), which results in an excessive strain in the joints and causes arthritis. High arches are rigid and lack mobility, which causes the jamming of joints and creates the increased risk of developing arthritis.
When performing a diagnosis, osteoarthritis foot/ankle doctors will thoroughly examine the foot, and look for any swelling of the joint, pain from movement or limit to mobility. In a few cases, some deformity or enlargement of the joint will be noticed.
On top of a foot examination, X-rays might be conducted to aid the osteoarthritis foot/ankle doctors in the diagnose and to evaluate the severity of the existing disease in the ankle and foot.
Non-surgical Treatment Options
In an effort to alleviate symptoms, the osteoarthritis foot/ankle doctors can treat the disease with one or all of these non-surgical methods:
- Oral Medications
Ibuprofen and other non-steroid anti-inflammatory medications can be helpful to reduce the pain and inflammation. On occasion, a prescription for steroid medication will be necessary to properly reduce any symptoms. There are also a number of nutritional supplements that can provide a benefit over the longer term.
- Orthotic Devices
Customized orthotic devices, such as shoe inserts, will usually be prescribed in an effort to provide support and improve the mechanics of your foot or to cushion it and help minimize any pain.
Bracing will restricts any motion and help to support the joint, which might help to reduce any pain from walking and prevent any added deformity.
The foot can be protected from movement through the application of a cast or cast-boot, which will help any inflammation to be reduced.
- Steroid Injections
In occasional cases, injections of steroids will be applied in the affected area for a direct delivery of anti-inflammatory medication.
- Physical Therapy
There are a number of exercises that will strengthen muscles, in particular when osteoarthritis develops in an ankle, which can provide the patient with greater stability and help to avoid any injury that can make the condition worse.
When Is Surgery Necessary?
When non-surgical treatments fail to properly address the pain that is associated with osteoarthritis, the doctors may recommend surgery. The purpose of the surgery will be to improve function and decrease pain. The ankle and foot surgeon will consider numerous factors when they select the procedure that is best suited to the lifestyle and condition of the patient.
We can help – Call Dr. Nguyen Ky today if you need help with or have questions about osteoarthritis treatment / surgery for the feet, toes, or ankles, call us today or send an email to the right!!
Dr. Nguyen Ky DPM (408) 292-2485
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