Arthritis in Feet


Hidden away in socks and shoes at the end of our bodies, our feet can often be neglected and our foot health overlooked. As part of the annual Feet for Life Month in June, The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists is raising awareness of all aspects of foot care and foot health, with a specific focus this year on arthritis. Arthritis is often associated with older age, and while you are more likely to develop arthritis as you get older, it can occur at any age and usually develops between the ages of 20 and 50.

There are also steps you can take to help prevent your chances of developing the condition later in life. Knees and feet are particularly prone to arthritis and The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists is urging people to be vigilant about pain in these areas to help aid detection and improve quality of life and treatment.

Podiatrist Lorraine Jones from The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists said: “Arthritis of any form can cause great pain for the sufferer but the good news is that there are things you can do to help prevent arthritis and there are also ways to ease the symptoms if you do develop it. Maintaining a healthy weight and keeping active through low impact sports such as swimming and cycling can help to prevent arthritis in later life, as can choosing supportive footwear which reduces pressure on the joints. The key to treatment is early detection so if you do experience pain, swelling and stiffness in your joints, see a podiatrist or health professional for advice.”

There are numerous forms of arthritis but Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) are common. OA is the most common and is caused by trauma and stress to the cartilage around the joints which can be as a result of general wear and tear, or an injury. OA is very common in foot joints. RA is one of the more severe types of arthritis although it is much less common. RA affects around 2 per cent of the UK population and is twice are prevalent in women than men. RA occurs when the body’s immune system turns on itself, causing inflammation in the joint lining.

If someone is experiencing problems with their feet, then often a podiatrist is their first point of call and can help identify if it’s arthritis that is causing the problem, and consequently refer the patient depending on the severity of the disease. If you have already been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, treatment may involve non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, footwear, insoles, or other help. But living with the pain is not inevitable – something can always be done to help control the disease and help your quality of life.

Talk to your podiatrist, GP or consultant about what can be done. If you are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, regular checks are important, at least annually for feet, according to the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). People with RA are likely to need stronger medication and should be seen by a specialist rheumatologist.

As medical treatment advances, more help than ever is available to aid ongoing foot problems.

There is now good evidence for the use of insoles and footwear helping people with rheumatoid arthritis, particularly in the early years, soon after diagnosis. Your podiatrist can help by aligning your joints to ease pain and prescribing insoles and footwear to limit joint damage. If the arthritis is severe, surgery may help.

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