What is arthritis?
Arthritis is an inflammation of a joint, generating pain and stiffness. The most common form is osteoarthritis which is essentially wear and tear that reduces cartilage levels and causes bone to rub on bone. This can also produce painful bone spurs. As the foot has 28 bones with more than 30 joints, it is a prime area for the condition to develop. Regular symptoms include pain, swelling, tenderness and restricted movement.
Doctors can detect problems from gait analysis – observing walking and running patterns – and X-rays which examine the structure of the foot joints. CT or MRI scans can also be deployed to generate further information.
There are no cures for arthritis but lifestyle changes can alleviate pain and slow its progression. A series of exercises and walking aids can also help recovery. Image guided steroid injections, delivered with a local anaesthetic, are effective at reducing pain, swelling and restoring some movement for a period of months. Repeat injections every six months may be needed. An injection can also deliver top-ups of synovial fluid, the joint lubrication that acts a shock absorber, which may be deficient in people with arthritis.
In certain cases, surgery is a good option with an arthroscopy used to clean out loose cartilage, inflamed tissue, unstable joint surfaces and bone spurs via keyhole surgery known as debridement. An arthrodesis, which uses screws to join two bones together to stabilise the arthritic joint that is causing pain, can be particularly effective and can also be used on the ankle. It is carried out under general anaesthetic with the patient normally staying 24 hours in hospital being allowed home to rest and, in time, start rehabilitation.
To ask a question, make an enquiry or book an appointment, contact our specialist team on 0207 806 4044 or [email protected], the team are available between Monday – Friday 8am – 6pm and on Saturday from 9.00am to 3.00pm. Our foot and ankle team have a dedicated and caring approach and will seek to find you the earliest appointment possible with the correct specialist for your needs.
If you do not have a GP, then we have an in-house private GP practice that you can use. Alternatively we can suggest the most appropriate course of action for you to take, given your location and individual circumstance.