Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that affects many older Americans. It is caused by the breakdown of joint cartilage, which acts like a lubricant to allow joints to move fluidly. It commonly affects joints in the feet, hands, knee, and hip; in the foot, it most commonly affects the big toe joint.
What are the symptoms?
Most people experience pain, stiffness, crackling, and deformity of the joints. Pain is usually worst at the end of the day and after long periods of activity.
How is it diagnosed?
It is diagnosed by physical examination by your doctor and by the use of x-rays. Examination is important so your doctor can differentiate osteoarthritis from other types of arthritis, such as gouty arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
How is it treated?
Since there really is no cure, the primary treatment is to relieve pain and inflammation. Tylenol can be used for pain relief but does not treat the underlying inflammation, so it is best for mild cases. If the pain cannot be controlled by Tylenol alone, your doctor might recommend the use of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as Aleve or Motrin.
Your doctor may prescribe orthotics which can re-align the foot and relieve pressure on sensitive areas. Surgery is usually reserved for more severe cases.
If you have pain in any of the joints of your foot, feel free to make an appointment with myself, or any of our doctors at Advanced Foot and Ankle Care for an examination and your doctor will discuss all your treatment options.
Jeff Carlson, DPM