Arthritis is a joint condition that affects roughly 54 million American adults according to the Arthritis Foundation. It can show up in joints all around the body, including the feet and toes. When the joints of the feet are affected by inflammation, it affects a patient’s ability to move their toes, bend their feet up or down, and turn on a dime when participating in athletic activities. Learn the steps that you can take to care for arthritic feet and improve your overall foot health.
Arthritis in the Feet
Arthritic joint pain, which is usually caused by an inflammatory reaction, is most commonly felt in the big toe, ankle, and the middle part of the foot. There are many different types of arthritis conditions that could affect the feet, including psoriatic, reactive, and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form—it is caused by the bones rubbing together, making the joints feel stiff and painful. Patients who are overweight are more likely to struggle with arthritic feet, as are seniors. Some people have had arthritis since childhood (juvenile arthritis or JA), making them more likely to develop foot deformities like bunions and struggle with swollen joints.
Though arthritis isn’t a curable condition, the symptoms can be eased with treatment so that you can continue to walk, jog, exercise, and work without debilitating pain. These are some of the ways your podiatrist may treat arthritis in the feet:
- An X-ray or other imaging test to examine the condition of the joints.
- Physical therapy exercises to make the joints more flexible.
- Orthotic device or shoe for better foot support.
- Joint injections (corticosteroids).
- NSAID drugs (anti-inflammatories).
- Surgery to remove inflamed tissue around the joints (Arthroscopic debridement) or fuse the bones (arthrodesis).
Caring for Your Feet
Seeing a foot doctor is an important part of caring for arthritic feet. But there are also some actions you can take at home to keep your feet and joints in good condition:
- Get rid of shoes that put too much pressure on your joints, like high heels or sneakers that don’t support the ankles.
- Soak your feet in warm water with Epsom salt and massage your feet when relaxing.
- Commit to doing the toe and foot exercises suggested by your podiatrist.
Treating Arthritic Feet
Arthritic feet shouldn't prevent you from carrying on with normal life and physical activities. Get help from a podiatrist as soon as you start to experience symptoms and take extra steps to care for your feet.
A foot blister is a small pocket of fluid that forms on the foot. Blisters can be painful while they heal. Foot blisters are caused by several things, including friction, burns, contact with irritants, and autoimmune diseases. Treatment can alleviate your pain, prevent infection, and help heal your blister. Here's what to do when you keep getting blisters on your feet.
1. See a podiatrist- When foot blisters interfere with your normal activities, you should see a podiatrist. Podiatrists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of foot and ankle problems, including blisters. Depending on the cause of the foot blister, your podiatrist will form a treatment plan for you.
2. Cover your blisters- If a blister does occur, do not pop it. A blister should be covered to reduce irritation and cut back on the risk of infection. Wash your blisters with soap and water and cover them with dressings, like bandages or gauze pads. Your dressings should be changed every day.
3. Use antibiotic ointment- Antibiotic ointment helps prevent infections in blisters. You can purchase antibiotic ointment at a local pharmacy. Apply antibiotic ointment to the foot blisters as directed, especially before you put on your socks or shoes.
4. Keep your feet dry- Keep your feet dry at all times. After you shower, dry your feet thoroughly. Wear socks every day to keep moisture away from the skin of your feet. For sweaty feet, use products that help control moisture.
5. Use custom orthotics- Orthotic devices are molded pieces of rubber, leather, or other material that are inserted into shoes. You can get custom-made orthotic devices from your podiatrist. Orthotic devices can be helpful in preventing and treating foot blisters. Orthotic devices can reduce friction on foot blisters and alleviate your pain.
6. Wear the right shoes- Rubbing and pressure from shoes that are too tight often cause blisters on the feet. Avoid wearing shoes that cause foot blisters. Wear good-fitting footwear that fit comfortably and leave your feet with some wiggle room, especially on long walks or runs. Wearing the right footwear can prevent future blisters.
7. Use foot powders- Friction can make foot blisters worse and increase your pain. In order to reduce friction on blisters, buy a powder designed for your feet at a pharmacy. Pour it into your socks before putting on your shoes to reduce pain. If a powder causes your foot blisters to become irritated, stop using it.
Don't let foot blisters knock you off your feet. Find a podiatrist in your area and schedule an appointment. A podiatrist can help you get rid of those foot blisters once and for all. The journey to healthy feet starts with you!
When most people think about foot deformities they most often think about bunions; however, hammertoes are just as common. This unassuming deformity comes about gradually, so you may not even notice it until it’s too late. “What is a hammertoe?” You might be wondering. A hammertoe affects the middle joint of a toe (often the smaller toes), causing the toe to bend downward. In severe cases, a hammertoe will look almost claw-like.
There are two kinds of hammertoes: flexible and rigid. As you might imagine, a flexible hammertoe is one in which you can still straighten the toe out. If you aren’t able to straighten the affected toe then this is a rigid hammertoe. A flexible hammertoe isn’t as serious as a rigid one; however, it’s important that you take care of your hammertoe to make sure that it doesn’t get worse.
While there is no way to cure a hammertoe there are simple measures you can take to prevent it from progressing. First and foremost, you need to take a look at the shoes you are wearing and make sure that they aren’t too tight. When you slip your feet into your shoes, does it cause your toes to bunch up against one another? If so then this could make your hammertoe worse.
Instead, opt for shoes with an ample toe box, which will allow your toes to wiggle and move around freely. If you have a structural imbalance within the foot this can leave you prone to foot problems such as hammertoes and bunions. To correct this imbalance, talk to your foot doctor about getting custom orthotics (shoe inserts), which can be placed into your shoes to help provide cushioning, support, and shock absorption for your feet.
If pain or stiffness does rear its ugly head you can choose to take an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen, which can tackle both pain and inflammation in one fell swoop, or you can place a towel-wrapped ice pack (never put ice directly on the skin, as it can cause severe burns) over the area for several minutes.
Just as you can buy pads to cover a bunion or callus, you can also buy a non-medicated protective pad to cover over a hammertoe. Since the deformed toe joint juts out this can leave the toe prone to calluses, which can cause pain when wearing shoes. To prevent a callus from forming, you can apply a protective pad over the deformed toe joint before putting on shoes.
Of course, if you are dealing with significant or frequent pain, or if the hammertoe is rigid, then you will want to turn to a podiatric specialist. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended to correct the disfigured joint.
While it might not be something you think about often (or at all), the health of your child’s feet is important. Your child is growing by leaps and bounds and certain habits and other factors can affect how your child’s feet develop or if they experience injuries or other problems down the road. Unfortunately, a lot of children end up wearing shoes that are far too small for their feet, which can lead to pain, structural imbalances and certain foot deformities.
We know that going shoe shopping is certainly not a walk in the park for most parents; however, it’s an important component to making sure your child maintains healthy feet. There are many things to think about when it comes to picking the right shoes, and your podiatrist can also provide suggestions and tips to make the world of shoe shopping easier for you and your little one.
Some factors that you should consider when shopping for the right shoes include:
- Your child’s age
- The shoe’s material
- Your child’s shoe size
- The shoe’s structure
A good rule of thumb is to shop for shoes every 2 months when your child is between the ages of 1 and 2 years old. Once they reach three and four, you’ll want to purchase new shoes approximately every four months. At the point that your child is five or six years old, every six months is a good time to swap out old shoes for new ones.
As you might already know, the bones of a baby or infant’s feet are soft and haven’t fully developed. To protect your child’s feet it’s important that they wear socks and soft shoes. Make sure that as your child’s feet grow that the toes have room to wiggle and move around within the shoes. Bunched-up toes are a major no-no!
Since your little one is growing by leaps and bounds it is important that you are constantly checking their shoe size for changes. Remember that feet swell throughout the day, so shoe shopping should be done at the end of the day when feet are at their largest. If you aren’t sure what size shoe your little one wears, you can ask one of the store’s footwear specialists for help.
Of course, you can’t forget the importance of choosing the right socks, as well. Socks can prevent your little one from blisters, calluses and other foot problems. They can also wick away sweat and prevent fungal infections. When it comes to choosing the right socks for your little one consider the type of fabric, your child’s activity level, the size of your child’s feet and sensitivities they might have to certain fabrics.
When in doubt, you should talk to a foot doctor who can provide you with advice, answer any questions you might have about your child’s developing feet and also provide comprehensive care, when needed.
What is a Bunion?
What Causes Bunions?
How a Podiatrist Can Help
Prevention is Key
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