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Posts for tag: early recognition

A long, long time ago, in a land far, far away… just kidding, it was a grade school in Ohio… I remember a friend who would suffer an ankle sprain at least once a week during recess. Many of us thought she was possibly being over-dramatic, but some people do actually suffer from chronic ankle instability, which leaves them more prone to sprain and strains than the rest of us. This affects somewhere between 10 to 20 people out of every 100 who experience ankle sprains.

Based on the most current research, this isn’t necessarily a genetic condition. Most cases occur from a previous ankle sprain injury that does not heal correctly or fully. Those who ha e a high instep/arch are more susceptible since their feet do not adapt as well to unstable terrain as those with more flexible ligaments and arches. Patients report that after an initial sprain, their ankles feel less stable and have gotten more swollen and painful. Secondary complications may occur from this, including synovitis (joint swelling), tendonitis, and tendon tears. Instability can develop from overstretched or torn ligaments that grow back together too loosely. This affects the way bones and ligaments interact, which, of course, can cause more problems.

Our bodies react through a process called proprioception, which basically means our muscles react in a predictable way based on the chemical inputs they are receiving. This is what the subconscious parts of our brain do to control all motor functions in our body. If these receptors are not firing properly for our ankles, we may feel a constant sensation of instability of coordination.

If you experience chronic ankle instability, you have several treatment options based on the severity and longevity of the problem. Many patients are able to recover stability with simple exercises and the strategic use of an ankle brace. If only an ankle brace is used, coordination and strengthening exercises may be recommended as an important part of rehabilitation. In some cases, surgery may be the best option. Even after surgery, exercises and strict adhering to a doctor’s recommendations is the best option for a full and successful recovery.

Time is of the essence here. Early recognition and early treatment will mean a shorter recovery time and better future foot health for you. If you experience chronic pain from ankle sprains or any sort of injury, please visit your podiatrist to have an evaluation. Early recognition could mean the difference between several weeks of wearing a brace and strengthening exercises and a few months of surgical recovery. I say it in almost every blog post, but pain is NOT NORMAL. If you are still experiencing complications after an ankle sprain, please go see your podiatrist and get it check out before it become a chronic problem.

Continuing on with our theme of arthritis, let’s take a look at Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Unlike other types of arthritis that can develop from overuse or injury, Rheumatoid Arthritis comes from within. Classified as an autoimmune disorder, RA occurs when the body attacks its own tissues, specifically the lining of the joints. One of the reasons rheumatoid arthritis and foot care go together is that the early signs of RA occur in the smaller joints, like where your toes attach to your feet.

The spaces in between your joints have a membrane called the Synovium. This is a specialized tissue that lines our joints and maintains the synovial fluid, which reduces friction between joints and absorbs shock from our movement. For reasons unknown to science (although they have a few clues), some people’s bodies decide to treat this tissue like a foreign invader and will attack.

When attacked, the body reacts with swelling, redness, and stiffness. During these attacks, or flares, the synovium thickens, causing damage to the surrounding cartilage and bone. Flares can last for days or months and the longer and more often your RA symptoms remain, the more likely you are to have permanent damage. Constant thickening of the synovium can stretch and weaken the connections between tendons and ligaments and lead to permanent physical deformity. While the disease generally starts in the fingers and toes, it can easily spread to the wrists, ankles, knees, elbows, and further.

Science only has a few clues as to why some people develop RA while others don’t. Age (first occurs in people between 40 and 60 years old), sex (women account for 70% of RA patients), obesity (especially when diagnosed at a younger age), and family history (certain genetic markers are thought to contribute to RA) are all contributing factors to your risk for rheumatoid arthritis.

Unfortunately, the effects of RA can be felt way beyond your joints. RA can also lead to complications with your skin, eyes, lungs, heart, kidneys, salivary glands, nerve tissues, bone marrow, or even blood vessels. We will explore a few of these things next week when we look deeper into autoimmune disorders.

Diagnosis is not an exact science either. The early stages of RA can be hard to catch since they mimic other arthritis conditions. A family history may be taken, blood tests may be performed to look for indicating markers, and x-rays may be taken to track the progression. There are many choices for treatment options, but the disease is not curable and medications simply reduce or stop symptoms.

For the early stages, over the counter pain medications may be all that are needed to reduce swelling and pain. Steroid shots can be prescribed to relieve acute symptoms, but are not a long term solution. The two most popular options are Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and Biologic agents. DMARDs can slow the actual progression of RA, but come with some nasty side effects to the liver and lungs. Biologics is a newer class of drugs that target the body’s trigger system for RA flares. However, you do put yourself at a higher risk for infection.

Needless to say, rheumatoid arthritis can be a very painful and lifelong disease, but it doesn’t have to stop you from living a full life. Early diagnosis and early treatment can help you battle RA and maintain and active and healthy lifestyle. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing joint pain. You hold your own future in your hands (or feet, in this case).