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Posts for tag: bone spurs

Arthritis affects 40 million people in the US. There are many types of arthritis and it can manifest in almost any part of the body so it’s difficult at times to keep track of what’s what. The most common arthritic condition of the foot is called Hallux Rigidus. No, it’s not a spell from Harry Potter; Hallux is a name for the big toe and Rigidus means it has become rigid, unable to bend.

Hallux Rigidus is a degenerative arthritis (osteoarthritis), meaning it can occur from the everyday wear and tear you put on your feet. You are at greater risk for hallux rigidus if you have a family history of arthritis or have a preexisting structural abnormality (fallen arches, excessive pronation, etc.). One in every 40 adults over 50 years old are affected by this condition.

READ MORE: Osteoarthritis

The toe becomes stiff because the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint at the base of the large toe becomes inflamed and hinders proper movement. This leads to a big problem because our big toe needs to bend every time we take a step.

Symptoms of Hallux Rigidus include pain and of course inability to bend the big toe. At first, this may be minor and aggravated by cold or damp weather. You may have trouble with certain activities and movements such as running or squatting. Inflammation of the joint can lead to swelling, redness, and difficulty wearing shoes. Eventually, bone spurs may occur, and the toe can become completely immobile.

Diagnosis requires a physical examination where your podiatrist will test the flexibility and range of motion in your joint. They may also take x-rays to check the progression of arthritis or look for bone spurs. Like most podiatric ailments, if caught early enough, Hallux Rigidus has some simple non-surgical solutions. 

You guessed it, wearing the right shoes that don’t put undue pressure on or squeeze the toes can help keep your big toe moving. Orthotic devices to correct structural abnormalities, corticosteroid injections, and foot exercises or physical therapy are all conservative treatment methods that help stop the progression of this painful condition.

READ MORE: Footwear for Spring

The stiffer your big toe becomes, the less chance there is of keeping a full range of motion. If you feel that your big toe just isn’t the same as it used to be and is keeping you from living a healthy and active lifestyle call the FAAWC for an appointment today.

This month we are looking at the exciting world of arthritis. Last week we discussed gout, a type of arthritis brought on by the buildup of uric acid in the body. This week, let’s take a look at Osteoarthritis. Sometimes referred to as “wear and tear” arthritis, osteoarthritis is a condition in which the cushioning between our joints wears down bringing all sorts of problems with it.

All of us use the joints in our bodies every single day. Just look how many there are in your hand and arm alone. Now, think about how much your feet (in particular) twist, bend, flex, and move in a single day or even a single hour. That’s a lot of movement! Unfortunately, osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people across the globe. And sometimes there is very little we can do to prevent it. Risk factors for osteoarthritis include:

  • Old age – The longer you’ve been using your joints, the more likely they are to be worn down and cause symptoms.
  • Sex – Women are more likely than men to develop osteoarthritis (and we’re not exactly sure why).
  • Weight – Carrying a lot of extra weight puts extra stress on our joints and can lead to a faster breakdown of the protective tissue in our joints.
  • Your job – If your job puts constant strain on a single joint or set of joints (such as a job that involves lots of standing and walking) this could contribute to the breakdown of joint tissue.
  • Genetics and bone deformities – Unfortunately, some people are born with a malformed joint or even just a genetic predisposition to develop osteoarthritis.
  • Injuries – Any injury to a joint, even if it seems fully healed, can contribute to osteoarthritis later in life.

The signs of osteoarthritis start simply, but the disease is progressive and will worsen over time. Symptoms include pain (imagine that), stiffness or tenderness, loss of flexibility, possible bone spurs, and some people experience the feeling of their bones grinding together when they move.

X-rays and MRIs are the best way to diagnose osteoarthritis. A family history and physical examination are also generally conducted. Blood or joint fluid tests may be required to differentiate between osteoarthritis and other types of arthritis. If your pain is being caused by osteoarthritis, there is a myriad of treatment options to choose from.

Many patients can be treated with over the counter pain relieving medications. They may also benefit from gentle exercises, such as yoga, or physical therapy. If the pain cannot be managed with OTC meds, your doctor may suggest cortisone injections. This is a limited treatment option, since the maximum recommended treatment is less than four injections a year. In worst-case scenarios, joint replacement surgery may be necessary.

If you experience pain, stiffness, or a grinding sensation in your joints, and especially if you have a family history of arthritis, please make an appointment with your doctor to be checked for osteoarthritis. Catching this progressive disease early is important in order to slow the degeneration of your joint tissues. As I have said many times before, pain is not normal, if you are experiencing it on a regular basis, go see your doctor. Your joints will thank you!