Arthritis, foot pain, and podiatrists

Woman Holding Inflamed Ankle on Couch

Arthritis, foot pain, and podiatrists—oh my! Diagnosing your foot pain issue can be difficult, but Arizona Foot Doctors is here to help you navigate arthritis and receive treatment at our podiatry center. Unfortunately, many seniors, adults, and young adults suffer from arthritis. People who suffer from foot pain, and are diagnosed with arthritis, may have one of over 100 types of chronic joint disease (ouch). Arthritis is a joint disease; the two most common kinds of arthritis being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Arthritis found in the foot have symptoms that can cause sufferers to have difficulty walking and standing. Although doctors specializing in orthopedics or rheumatology typically oversee arthritic symptoms and disease progression, a podiatrist can help diagnose the condition in the feet and determine the best foot arthritis treatment.

Diagnosis of foot arthritis

Foot painmay be one of the first symptoms that encourages someone to visit a podiatrist, but it is not necessarily a sign of arthritis. A podiatrist who suspects arthritis in the foot will note symptoms including swelling, redness, calluses, and stiffness of the feet and ankles.

Observing how a patient walks can also reveal signs of arthritis. Limping or excessive wear to some parts of shoes compared with others can indicate the degree of pain while walking or movements that compensate for stiffness. >Heel pain is commonly due to conditions including plantar fasciitis, bone spurs, and tendonitis; however, it is also a common symptom of arthritis in the foot.

If a podiatrist suspects arthritis, the next step is to order tests to confirm or deny a diagnosis. X-rays can reveal narrowing of the space between joints, bone fractures, and loss of cartilage. The podiatrist will often take x-rays with the patient in a standing position to encourage weight-bearing, making it easier to determine the effects of the joint disease. Although x-rays are the most common and revealing way to diagnose arthritis, a podiatrist might order an MRI or CAT scan to ascertain specific forms of arthritis.

Top Podiatrist Inserting Custom Orthotics into Young Woman's Shoe

Care and treatment

Foot arthritis treatments can vary. At Arizona Foot Doctors, we strive for conservative, non-surgical treatments to start to best accommodate your needs and lifestyle. When pain and inflammation are debilitating, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSID) can provide immediate relief. Options can be over-the-counter or prescription-strength varieties. Corticosteroid injections can directly deliver pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory drugs into the joint; however, this treatment can take up to 72 hours to be effective.

Our podiatrists might also order custom orthotic insoles for foot arthritis treatment. These fit into shoes and cushion arthritic foot joints from pressure and movement that lead to pain while walking. Physical therapy is also beneficial for relieving arthritis foot pain and stiffness. With insoles and physical therapy, many patients can restore range of motion while strengthening muscles surrounding the joint. Physical therapy also improves walking stability by alleviating pain and stiffness. At times, assistive devices like canes can be beneficial, and a physical therapist can advise proper usage to avoid creating misalignment.

Surgery is a last resort for foot arthritis treatment and can vary depending on the type of arthritis. For osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, debridement surgery, such as arthroplasty, can effectively alleviate arthritis symptoms in the foot. A podiatric surgeon removes bone and cartilage pieces that have broken off into the joint or eliminates swollen tissue that causes painful pressure. In this procedure, you and your podiatrists may determine if resurfacing or total joint replacement is necessary.

Fusion surgery is another foot arthritis treatment that podiatrists use to relieve arthritis pain, particularly the rheumatoid variety. A podiatrist removes damaged cartilage before fusing the bones that comprise the joint. The fusion stiffens the joint and provides increased stability and weight-bearing function.

Young Girl Using Resistance Band to Prevent Foot Pain

Managing your arthritis foot pain

Arthritic foot pain can be debilitating regardless of the type. A podiatrist is an excellent resource for explaining the lifestyle changes you may choose to implement to alleviate pain and achieve maximum flexibility, strength, and balance. Our podiatrists may recommend changing your exercise routine. If you typically jog or play volleyball, it may be recommended that you choose to swim or go cycling instead. This is because jogging or playing volleyball encourages more impact and weight-bearing movements on the feet while swimming and cycling do not. It may also be recommended to change the shoes you wear or get fitted for custom orthotics to support your feet.

Partner with Arizona Foot Doctors in Scottsdale

Arthritis, foot pain, and podiatrists—we’ll help you through all the steps of diagnostic, treatment, and management.  To determine the treatment and management plan that best fits you, visit our podiatrists at Arizona Foot Doctors. We’re located in Scottsdale, Arizona, near Shea and the 101.