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Arthritis is inflammation and degeneration of the cartilage and lining of the joints, generally accompanied by an increase in the fluid inside joints.  It can cause pain anywhere there is a joint.  Commonly, arthritis is felt most in the feet, hands, knees, hip and back.   Arthritic feet can result in loss of mobility and independence, but early diagnosis and proper medical care can help significantly.

What causes arthritis?

  • The most common cause of arthritis is “wear and tear” on the joints.  After years of physical activity, the cartilage inside the joints can wear down, leading to severe pain. 

  • Acute injuries which are ignored can lead to joint cartilage destruction

  • Bacterial and viral infections

  • Certain bowel disorders 

  • Gout

  • Using drugs, both prescription drugs and illegal street drugs, can induce arthritis.

  • Autoimmune diseases 

What are the different types of arthritis?

  • Osteoarthritis: This is the most common form of arthritis.  It is caused by  “wear and tear” arthritis and is usually characterized by pain during activity and relieved with rest.  Dull, throbbing nighttime pain is characteristic, and it may be accompanied by muscle weakness.  This can also be caused by acute trauma to a joint.  

  • Rheumatoid arthritis: Rheumatoid Arthritis is a complex, chronic inflammatory type of arthritis, often affecting the small joints in the feet and hands.  Pain and inflammation will frequently occur in a symmetrical pattern (both feet, both hands, etc).  This type of arthritis is often characterized by morning joint stiffness, joint redness and swelling, and if left untreated, can lead to debilitating deformities.   

  • Psoriatic arthritis: This is another type of inflammatory arthritis.  Psoriasis is often thought of as a skin disorder, but it can affect joints as well. On the skin, psoriasis appears as dry, scaly plaques, with or without pitting changes to the nails. Not all people with psoriasis of the skin will develop joint symptoms, only around 5% will end up with joint pain.  This type of arthritis is often associated with “sausage toes” and toe and finger deformities are also possible if left untreated. 

  • Gout : Gout is a condition caused by a buildup of uric acid in the joints. The big toe joint is most commonly affected, and it is defined by a red, hot, swollen joint.  The joint is often very painful, and can hurt with just the touch of bedsheets.  Men are much more likely to be afflicted than women.  Gout is often caused by eating a diet rich in red meat, organ meat, shellfish, red wine, lentils and beans.

  • Septic Arthritis: This is an infection of the joint, more commonly seen in children than adults.  The infection can reach the joint through penetrating trauma or through the bloodstream.  It will appear as a red, hot, swollen joint, and may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, fever, or chills.  IF septic arthritis is not treated right away, there is a risk of permanent joint damage or sepsis (a severe blood infection).

When to make an appointment at Fulshear Foot and Ankle?

  • Redness, swelling, or heat in one or more joints

  • Pain or tenderness in any joint

  • Early morning stiffness

  • Limitation of motion in a joint

How is arthritis diagnosed?

  • Dr. Amin and Dr. Hurwitz always start by listening to your concerns and performing a thorough physical examination 

  • X-rays and ultrasound are often utilized to evaluate for joint destruction and joint effusion (abnormal accumulation of fluid) 

  • Blood tests may be required if concerned about inflammatory arthritis

  • Joint aspiration (taking a fluid sample from joint) may be required if gout or septic arthritis is suspected

How is arthritis treated?

Treatment will vary based on the type of arthritis you have and the severity of your condition.  Treatment options may include:

  • Prescription anti inflammatory medications or steroid injections into the joint

  • Physical Therapy

  • Padding and strapping

  • Custom orthotics

  • Change in diet and activity level

  • Coordination of care with Rheumatologist

  • While there is no cure for arthritis, if conservative therapy fails to allow you to walk without pain, surgical intervention may be an option.