What can help arthritis?

Arthritis is a general term for inflammation in a joint. Many people with arthritis experience pain and difficulty moving around. There are more than 200 different types of arthritis and in the UK, arthritis affects 10 million people. Arthritis can affect people at any age, not just older people. However, you are more likely to develop arthritis as you get older.

Common forms of arthritis include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout, and these frequently affect the joints of the feet.  

All three forms of arthritis can benefit from chiropody care. Registered chiropodists (also known as podiatrists) work in the NHS and in private practice. They will be able to adapt your existing footwear with orthoses or other appliances, which fit easily into your shoes and help redistribute pressure away from the affected parts.

Made-to-measure shoes can also be prescribed, and registered chiropodists/podiatrists will also be able to advise you on the correct type of shoes to wear, and where to obtain them. Registered chiropodists and podiatrists can also provide protective shields for your toes, or padding to relieve pressure and reduce friction. Any secondary problems, like ulcers or corns, can also be treated. They will also refer you to a specialist for further treatment, if they consider it necessary.

Specialist teams of rheumatologists, chiropodists and podiatrists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists, along with specialist nurses, will provide the most effective care and treatment for arthritic patients, especially those with rheumatoid arthritis.

What can I do?

There is a lot you can do to help yourself too. Regular exercise, the right footwear, weight loss if you are overweight and the right diet may help. Speak to your GP, consultant or your podiatrist about how you can help in the care of your feet safely. For information on how to take care of your feet, visit www.feetforlife.org.

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Common forms of arthritic feet

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and is caused by trauma and stress to the cartilage in the joints. Stiff and painful joints are the main symptoms. It is more common in older age. It can be as a result of general wear and tear or an injury. Osteoarthritis is very common in foot joints.

Something can always be done If you have already been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, and treatment may involve nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, footwear, insoles, or other help. But living with the pain is not inevitable. Talk to your podiatrist, GP or consultant about what can be done.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the more severe types of arthritis, although is much less common. It affects around two per cent of the UK population and is twice as prevalent in women than men. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system turns on itself, causing inflammation in the joint lining.

More help than ever If you are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, regular checks are important, at least annually for feet, according to the National Institute for Clinincal Excellence (NICE). 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.

Gout

Gout is the result of an imbalance of uric acid in the body, and affects more men than women. The main symptom is waking up in the middle of the night with an acute throbbing pain in the big toe, which is swollen. Usually only one of the big toes is affected. The pain lasts for around three or four hours and will then subside and usually not return for a few months. It can be controlled by drugs that your GP will be able to prescribe. The application of ice or cooling lotions will help during an acute phase.

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