The term arthritis covers more than 100 diseases. Arthritis is a general term that means inflammation of the joints. Osteoarthritis, also called DJD or Degenerative Joint Disease, is the most common form of arthritis. It is associated with a breakdown of cartilage in the joints and can occur in almost any joint in the body. It is very common in the big toe joint in the foot and is called Hallux Limitis. Other joints of the foot can be affected due to trauma and abnormal biomechanics.
Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage to become stiff and lose its elasticity making it more susceptible to damage. Over time, the cartilage wears away and bone on bone contact can occur. Osteoarthritis affects nearly 21 million Americans. The chance of developing it increases with age and trauma.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis include: joint aching and soreness especially with activity; pain after overuse or after long periods of inactivity; bony enlargements or spurring; and joint swelling.
- What causes osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis has many varied etiologies, but hereditary, obesity, injury, and joint overuse due to improper biomechanics or chronic stress from a certain job or activity are the most common.
- How is osteoarthritis diagnosed?
Osteoarthritis is typically diagnosed with a complete medical history, including a description of your symptoms, and physical examination. Imaging techniques—such as X-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)—are sometimes used to show the condition of the joints. If other types of arthritis are suspected, laboratory tests on blood, urine and/or joint fluid may be helpful in determining the type of arthritis. These tests also can help rule out other diseases as the cause of your symptoms.
- How is osteoarthritis treated?
The goal of treatment is to provide pain relief and increase joint mobility and strength. Treatment options include medication, exercise, physical therapy, orthotics, shoe modifications, use of joint protection or bracing and surgery. Your treatment plan may involve more than one of these options and should be discussed with your podiatrist.
Living with osteoarthritis has been increasing less difficult with the advent of new technology in orthotics, physical therapy and surgery. Call or contact the office today if you are living with arthritis pain.