Osteoarthritis is a common form of arthritis, but research into osteoarthritis primarily focuses on the hands and knees. With foot osteoarthritis, the cartilage that cushions the bones rub against each other can cause stiffness, pain, and even loss of movement throughout the joint. The research into this lesser-known condition is limited due to more common foot disorders, such as plantar fasciitis and gout, affecting people more frequently. As foot osteoarthritis treatment techniques are being currently explored, some clinical trials have recommendations for a better prognosis for foot conditions like this and offer podiatrists’ interventions to handle these conditions.
What Studies State About Foot Osteoarthritis
The correlation between foot pain and disability increases with age – one in 10 people over the age of 70 will develop new disabling foot pain over three years, according to a study conducted by the Therapeutic Advances in Musculoskeletal Disease. Painful foot disorders often present varying degrees of pain to the patient, and foot osteoarthritis appears to occur more frequently in older people, contributing to restricted activity, low balance, high risks of falling, and other disabilities. Foot pain affects one in four people at the age of 75, with two-thirds of that statistic having a locomotor disability.
When observing the behavior of foot osteoarthritis, most podiatrists and researchers began by looking at the first MTP joint, or the joint connecting the big toe, as the source for diagnosis and thus neglected the other MTP joints connecting the rest of the toes. Their studies have shown that the symmetry and clustering of osteoarthritis are highly interconnected, but with these interconnections comes misdiagnosis for the condition due to arthritis location. Even after diagnosing these conditions, podiatrists often use conservative methods to treat first MTP joint osteoarthritis but lack evident support for midfoot osteoarthritis. Still, for both first joint and midfoot osteoarthritis, conventional methods provide substantial improvement for patients.
How We Address Foot Osteoarthritis
Appalachian Foot & Ankle Associates take studies like these and apply the knowledge and research to our patients. As previously stated, both conservative and surgical methods can provide relief from foot osteoarthritis, and we can recommend these treatments to help relieve your pain:
- Medication – Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are widely used for foot osteoarthritis treatment, and topical medicines for foot management can also reduce pain.
- Intra-Articular Injections – These injections, also known as corticosteroid injections, can produce improvements in pain short term and help prevent the reoccurrence of pain.
- Physical Therapy – Improving the joints’ mobilization and flexibility can help strengthen the feet and add therapeutic benefits to reduce pain.
- Footwear Modifications – Our podiatrists may also suggest wearing different footwear to reduce the pressure and gait of the patient’s foot osteoarthritis and suggest orthoses to minimize pressure and force along the joints.
By observing these changes in controlled trials, we can better observe the different risk factors affecting our patients and treat their foot and ankle pain more profoundly.