What Is Osteoarthritis, and How Is It Treated?

There are more than 100 varieties of arthritis, with some occurring often and others rarely. The most commonly diagnosed include rheumatoid arthritis, the autoimmune condition known as lupus, and osteoarthritis, which is the most prevalent, with  27 million sufferers

Arthritis symptoms are varied but painful, and they can dramatically compromise your quality of life.

The experienced and caring team of providers at South Florida Foot & Ankle Centers is highly skilled at diagnosing and treating osteoarthritis in your feet and ankles. 

We've freed patients from arthritis pain with advanced, highly personalized treatments that address their unique symptoms, so there’s definitely hope if you’re suffering. 

Osteoarthritis: Why it happens, symptoms, and risk factors

Osteoarthritis is degenerative, meaning that the joints in your feet and ankles — which perform the critical job of supporting your entire body endlessly as you walk, jump, and run — deteriorate after years of wear and tear. 

Essentially, your joint cartilage breaks down, reducing the space between your bones. Because bone then can rub against bone, you develop a hard-to-tolerate array of symptoms, which intensify over time:

If you have osteoarthritis of the foot or ankle, worsening symptoms can limit your ability to walk and perform everyday activities like climb stairs. 

You’re more likely to be affected by osteoarthritis as you age. Other risk factors include having a family history of the condition, struggling with obesity, or having a history of joint injuries. Additionally, there’s a greater chance of struggling with osteoarthritis if your job or sports activities require repetitive movements.

Another difficulty is osteoarthritis’ snowball effect. It can lead to heel pain and even plantar fasciitis, another painful condition that causes discomfort and inflammation in the ligaments that connect your heel to the front of your foot (the plantar fascia).

Even though you might often associate arthritis with your hands or knees, don’t discount how the condition impacts your feet and ankles. Considering that just one of your feet contains 28 bones and 30-plus joints, it’s not surprising that osteoarthritis can wreak havoc on these parts of your body too.

Do treatments offer real relief to foot and ankle arthritis sufferers?

Fortunately, the team at South Florida Foot & Ankle Centers offers an array of osteoarthritis treatments, ranging from noninvasive to surgical. 

A host of conservative therapeutic treatments and progressive treatments that employ new methods and technology can ease your pain, prevent your arthritis from worsening, and increase your mobility:

  1. Medications relieve arthritis pain.
  2. A course of physical therapy reduces pain and increases ease of movement. 
  3. Corticosteroid injections diminish both pain and swelling.
  4. Hyaluronic acid injections help to lubricate your joints.
  5. Custom-made shoe inserts provide cushioning and stability, and relieve pain by redistributing weight. Also, specially made shoes can enhance your comfort.
  6. Occupational therapy offers methods that lessen joint stress and enable you to more easily move and function, despite your arthritis symptoms. Treatments include adapting household tools so they’re easier to use, introducing ergonomically designed tools and appliances, and simply resting when needed.
  7. MLS laser therapy uses wavelengths of light to reduce inflammation and relieve pain caused by arthritis. A treatment typically lasts under 10 minutes, and the light energy that repairs the damaged cell quickly reduces inflammation and improves circulation.
  8. Platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP) is a regenerative treatment that enlists your body’s own healing capabilities to strengthen and repair tissue. We take a blood sample from you, reconstitute it, and reinject this solution back into your targeted treatment area for accelerated, focused healing.
  9. Stem cell therapy is another regenerative treatment that utilizes highly adaptive cells in your body that are capable of transforming into many different types of cells. In this way, the cells jump-start your tissue repair process.  
  10. Shockwave therapy induces rapid healing by using electromagnetic, high-intenstiy sound waves. The treatment is often used to address plantar fasciitis, but it offers permanent relief for many chronic orthopedic problems, such as arthritis. 

You feel relief right after the 45-minute treatment, but improvement peaks at about three months after treatment. 

We often prescribe a combination of treatments for your arthritis pain, depending on your specific symptoms and their severity. 

Sometimes when these options have been exhausted and the damage done by arthritis is so extensive, you may need orthopedic surgery, like an ankle joint replacement procedure. 

Rest assured that we’re well-prepared to provide you with the best surgical solutions for damage done by osteoarthritis, and we’re with you every step of the way afterward too.

If you’re in misery due to osteoarthritis, we’re here to help! Call the South Florida Foot & Ankle Centers office that’s most convenient to you — in West Palm Beach, Belle Glade, Palm Beach Gardens, and Lake Worth, Florida — to schedule an appointment, or reach out to us online

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