Blog

Posts for tag: joint pain

Your toes are permanent roommates and if you’ve ever had a roommate, you know that people who live in close proximity need their space. Your toes are no different! When you crowd your toes by wearing pointed-toe shoes, high heels that put pressure on the front of the toes, or any shoe with a narrow toe box, it can lead to a hammertoe. What is a hammertoe? I’m glad you asked…

 

A hammertoe is an abnormal bend in the middle joint of a toe. It most often occurs in the second, third, and fourth toes. When your toes are curled under for extended periods of time, they begin to hold that shape. It may become painful to stretch or manipulate the toe and secondary issues such as blisters, corns, and calluses can arise. Improperly fitting shoes are a huge factor in the development of hammertoes. They are also more likely to develop in toes that have experienced a trauma, such as a bad break, jam, or stub. There are some genetic risk factors too, so let your podiatrist know if you have a family history of hammertoes (even if you haven’t developed one yourself). Arthritis and muscle imbalances are also causes of hammertoes.

 

READ MORE: Hammertoes

 

Women are more susceptible than men and the chances of developing this condition increase as you age. If your second toe is longer than your big toe, you will need to pay particular attention to the way your shoes fit and give extra space. Your shoes may also become uncomfortable due to corns or calluses that form on the bump of the toe. Use a pumice stone to reduce calluses and put a silicone or moleskin pad on the toe to avoid further rubbing.

 

Time is of the essence with a hammertoe. If treatment begins as soon as the toe begins to bend (when it’s still moveable), the condition can often be halted with simple methods such as toe exercises, roomier shoes, toe splints, or orthotics. If you allow your hammertoe to go untreated until it is fixed into position, which is what about 50% of our patients do, a surgical solution may be your only option. Your podiatrist might release or reposition the tendons and ligaments holding the toe curled or use pins and bone fusions to correct the bend.

 

The best thing you can do for your feet is to wear the proper shoes and make an appointment with the FAAWC immediately when you notice a hammertoe developing. We’re here to help.

 

READ MORE: Quick Tips for the Shoe Store

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).

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!

Last year we talked a little about heel pain and that brought up the topic of bursitis. Here’s a quick recap of that article:

  • Bursae are fluid filled sacs around the body that help muscles and tendons move smoothly over one another
  • When these bursae become inflamed it is called Bursitis and results in heel or foot pain
  • Bursitis is caused mainly through repeated misuse of the same area of the body but other factors such as inflammatory diseases might also be a factor
  • If the pain persists for more than a week or goes away and then comes back, you need to see your podiatrist

READ MORE: Heel Pain

While bursitis is a common cause of heel pain, it can cause pain in other places as well. The metatarsal bursa is located on the pad of your foot just under your toes and takes a lot of the weight of your everyday movements. If more strain is put on one toe than another, this can inflame the metatarsal bursa and cause pain. Pain from the metatarsal bursa will be noticeably worse if you are standing with bare feet on a hard floor.

The intermetatarsal bursa is located between the toes and can cause shooting pain through the top of the foot starting at the toes. Bursitis here can be caused by wearing improperly fitting shoes that squeeze your toes together or it can occur naturally as we age. As we grow older, the arches of our feet begin to weaken and fall putting more pressure on our toes. As this happens, bursitis can develop. Wearing shoes with wide toe boxes and good arch support can help avoid and relieve this pain.

The metatarsophalangeal bursa is located on the inner side of your foot next to your big toe. This is a common place for bursitis since friction from shoes is common on this part of the foot. Preexisting bunions in the same area can exacerbate inflammation of the metatarsophalangeal bursa. If the pain persists, you could end up having a very hard time finding comfortable shoes.

Bursitis of any kind can be recognized by pain, swelling, and redness. If you have these symptoms in any part of your foot (not just your heel) come and see us at the FAAWC. When left untreated, bursitis can become chronic and lead to other foot health issues down the road. Luckily, there are lots of treatment options and they are fairly simple. Your podiatrist will make a customized treatment plan for you and get you back on your feet in no time with no inflammation and no pain. What could be better than that?!

Having a joint replacement is a very big deal and deciding to pull the trigger is not a decision to take lightly. Each year over 600,000 knee replacements and 350,000 hip replacements are performed in the United States. The majority of these procedures are wildly successful and give new life back to people who were struggling with chronic pain and limited mobility. However, many people don’t know that a joint replacement may leave you with uneven limbs. In fact, uneven limb length accounted for almost 5% of all complications from these surgeries.

A difference in limb length, whether caused by complications from surgery or from simple genetics, of merely 5mm (1/4”) can cause serious complications for everyday life including back pain and lower extremity pain. In fact, there are so many possible complications from unequal limb length that they are hard to classify and usually overlooked as a potential cause. If you have Leg Length Discrepancy (LLD) then easy relief is possible to get from your local podiatrist.

The Foot and Ankle Wellness Center offers full or partial shoe lifts to help alleviate symptoms from LLD. First, you should come in for a consultation with your podiatrist. They will take the time to measure your legs accurately. After that, you can make the decision together as to what type of lift is best for your situation. In most cases, just bring in the shoes you wear the most and our experienced technicians will add the lift directly to them. Don’t live with LLD! Make your life better and alleviate your symptoms with a simple foot lift. Call and make your appointment today!