Arthritis Diagnosis on the Rise

Podiatric Care Can Reduce Pain and Inflammation

(Feb. 2014) According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, arthritis, which means “joint inflammation,” affects the daily activities of 21 million Americans, and the number of adults is projected to rise by one million annually.

People of all ages can be affected by arthritis, the nation’s number-one cause of disability, including children, and nearly two-thirds of those affected are under age 65.

The CDC report also confirms the disease is common, impacting about 23 percent of the adult population. The 2013 report shows that the number of adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis climbed from roughly 50 million to 53 million over the last three years. Symptoms are often manifested in feet, and podiatrists are on the first line of defense when it comes to treating this debilitating disease, which is often associated with obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

Each foot has 28 bones and more than 30 joints that can be afflicted by arthritis. The three joints of the foot that involve the heel bone, the inner mid-foot bone and the outer mid-foot bone and joint of the big toe and foot bone are the most-often affected.

In many kinds of arthritis, progressive joint deterioration occurs, and the smooth cushioning cartilage in joints is gradually lost. As a result, the bones rub and wear against each other. Soft tissues in the joints also may begin to wear down.

Arthritis can be painful and eventually result in limited motion, loss of joint function and deformities in the affected joints. Early diagnosis and proper medical care can help significantly.

Osteoarthritis, or “wear-and-tear” arthritis, is the most common type of arthritis, and its onset is usually gradual. Also known as degenerative joint disease or age-related arthritis, osteoarthritis is more likely to develop as people age.

Inflammation and injury to the joint cause a breaking down of cartilage tissues, resulting in pain, swelling and deformity. The changes in osteoarthritis usually occur slowly over many years, though there are occasional exceptions.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis related to the foot can include tenderness or pain; reduced ability to move, walk or bear weight; stiffness in the joint; swelling in the joint; nighttime pain and muscle weakness or deterioration.

Podiatrists treat osteoarthritis in several ways. Nonsurgical methods include steroid medications injected into the joints, anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling in the joints, pain relievers such as aspirin, custom orthotics or specially prescribed shoes, canes or braces to support the joints, physical therapy and weight control, since there are so many joints in each foot, which bear your weight.

For more information, visit the Arthritis Foundation at www.arthritis.org.

 

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