Playground politics can be brutal. Remember those days when it was the two schoolyard bullies against just you? Remember the relief you felt when someone came to stand beside you and evened the odds? That’s what our staff does when it comes to your osteoarthritis—we come alongside you to help find solutions for your painful joints.
What Causes Worn-Out Joints
Osteoarthritis is also called degenerative arthritis, because it involves deterioration of the cartilage at the ends of your bones. It is often associated with aging, as natural decline happens to your tissue, but can also be aggravated by wear and tear from repetitive motion in your job or sport, a previous injury, or even extra weight you are carrying around. Bone deformities, diseases like diabetes, and even genetic factors like flat feet can all make you more vulnerable, and for unknown reasons, it seems to strike women more often than men.
How to Know You Have a Joint Problem
Damaged cartilage can no longer supply the smooth, slick surface that helps the bones in a joint move freely. The deterioration can be so extreme that your bones grind against each other during movement, causing pain, stiffness, even a grating sound or feeling. The area can feel tender when you press on it, and there might be swelling, or the area may feel warm and red from inflammation. You may not be able to move the toe or ankle as well or walk as you normally do—or it possibly will hurt when you do so. You could even end up with spurs, little bone growths that can hurt you and limit your joint movement.
This disease only worsens as time goes by. You may have more pain or lose the ability to do daily tasks, and for some it may mean you can no longer work. If you have had a stiff joint for several weeks and the discomfort doesn’t get better, don’t ignore it. There are things we and you can do to lessen the severity and relieve the pain.
Treatments for Osteoarthritis
Some of the best treatments will be things you can do on your own. Exercising can help keep your joints limber, and losing weight will take some of the pressure off them. At our foot clinic, we can instruct you on the proper use of heat and cold therapy to manage your pain, and which over-the-counter creams may help as well. Don’t be afraid to use a cane to take the pressure off your joints and help you be more stable.
We will advise you about the correct type of pain reliever for your situation and prescribe steroid medication if needed. Beyond treating pain symptoms, we can set you up with a pair of custom orthotics that will help take pressure off the stressed joint or cushion it. Bracing can realign your bones so there is less pressure on the worn-down areas, too. Sometimes a boot or cast can keep joint movement in check until the inflammation has subsided. We may also use physical therapy to strengthen your leg and foot muscles to make the joints more stable.
Occupational therapy can help you by finding new ways to do your activities each day, such as sitting down to shower, or using assistive devices. We can direct you to pain management classes to give you tips and hints for reducing your pain or coping with it. We could also try steroid shots to the affected area, as well as injecting lubricants into the damaged joint. In extreme cases, we can refer you for surgery on the damaged joint.
Finding a Health Care Provider for Your Feet
Don’t let osteoarthritis pain bully you into giving up. Give Abbott Foot & Ankle Clinic in Collingwood, ON, a call at (705) 444-9929 and let our expert staff stand with you. We understand feet and ankles and how they work. We’ll help you find solutions that will allow you to enjoy the activities you love. For excellent foot care in the entire south Georgian Bay area from Owen Sound to Barrie, you can also set up an appointment online.
Photo Credit: Witthaya Phonsawat via FreeDigitalPhotos.net