Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of autoimmune disease that tends to effect multiple joints in the body simultaneously but often starts in the foot and ankle and usually affects both sides of the body (symmetrical presentation)
There are 28 bones in the foot and ankle and more than 30 joints that provide a wide range of movement, support and shock absorption. Arthritis of any one or many of these joints can cause pain, stiffness and difficulty performing physical and daily activities if these symptoms become severe. The most common type of arthritis seen is osteoarthritis, or a degeneration (wear and tear) of joint. This condition occurs gradually and certain risk factors can increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis – advanced age, obesity, laborious occupations, a high level of physical activity, or previous trauma to the joint (also known as posttraumatic arthritis). Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of autoimmune disease that tends to effect multiple joints in the body simultaneously but often starts in the foot and ankle and is often effects both sides of the body (symmetrical presentation). Symptoms of foot and ankle arthritis are pain with motion, flare ups with activity, swelling and/or redness over the affected joint, difficulty walking due to pain, and tenderness with applied pressure to the area. X-rays are often used by your doctor to help visualize the joint(s) involved. Joint space narrowing and bone spurs are common findings on x-rays. Sometimes blood tests, specifically in rheumatoid arthritis cases, are required to help confirm a diagnosis. While there isn’t any cure for arthritis, there are some treatment options that our doctors may recommend – lifestyle modifications, physical therapy, and NSAIDs are often first line therapy options. Sometimes supportive braces are utilized as well. If a patient’s arthritis is severe and symptoms effect daily activity, surgery may be recommended. Arthroscopic debridements can be performed to remove loose cartilage, inflamed synovial tissue and bone spurs from the affected joint space. More invasive surgical options include an arthrodesis (complete fusion of the joint with hardware or screws) or a joint arthroplasty (replacement of the affected joint with prosthetics). While surgery can be very effective in relieving arthritis pain, it is usually reserved only for more severe cases.
Every patient receives an in-depth consultation to devise a treatment plan that is right for their problem. Our specialists prefer non-operative and non-invasive treatments whenever possible, including physical therapy, medications, and/or injections. When we require surgery, we will then use minimally invasive surgical techniques to fix your problem, whether it is fixing a broken bone or repairing a tendon. Our goal is always to get you back to living your life normally as soon as possible.