Stiff and Achy: Forms of Arthritis
Stiff, aching joints are typically considered a problem you develop as you get older, or as a consequence of being rough on your feet when you’re young. The truth is that arthritis, the painful stiffening in joints, is a general term that refers to many different forms of the disease. These different forms of arthritis can develop for a variety of reasons and at different points in your life.
What Arthritis Really Is
“Arthritis” simply refers to inflammation damage in your joints. For a variety of reasons, depending on the form of arthritis you have, the protective layers and sometimes even the bones themselves become inflamed, irritated, and swollen. This makes your joints feel stiff and painful, as well as limits how much they can bend. Over time, the problem breaks down and damages those tissues.
This is a progressive disease without a real cure; however, there are ways to manage it and minimize its damage, so you can continue using those joints.
Common Forms of Arthritis in the Feet
When people talk about having arthritis, they’re usually referring to one of the most common forms of the disease:
- Osteoarthritis – This is joint damage and inflammation from wear and tear over time, and usually what people mean when they talk about developing arthritis as they get older. Over years of work, particularly heavy use or repetitive hard impacts from sports, the protective cushioning in the joints wears away.
- Rheumatoid arthritis – This is actually an autoimmune disease that can develop at any time. For unknown reasons, your body attacks and damages the protective lining around your joints, inflaming and damaging all the tissues there. This problem usually starts in a few small joints and spreads as the disease gets worse.
- Post-traumatic arthritis – This is damage that develops after an injury. Perhaps you break a bone or dislocate something, so the joint, or the protective lining in it, is damaged. Even after the initial injury heals, it’s very possible for that injury to lead to inflammation and painful wear and tear.
- Gout – This type of arthritis is a bit unusual. Inflammation comes from a build-up of uric acid in the blood that crystalizes and settles into joint spaces, where the sharp crystals scrape and inflame the tissues around them. Gout tends to flare up suddenly, with pain-free periods in between episodes.
Less common forms of the condition may be connected to autoimmune diseases like lupus or psoriasis.
Taking Care of Your Joints
Because arthritis, even in its many forms, is a progressive problem, you do need invested care to help slow down deterioration and retain use of your joints. Our specialists at Family Foot & Ankle Care of Jasper will carefully examine your lower limbs to determine the best way to reduce stress and inflammation. This may involve changing your activities, wearing more supportive shoes or orthotics, and participating in physical therapy. In severe cases that impair your ability to walk, more invasive treatments like surgery may become options. It will all depend on your unique needs and situation.
Your joints handle a lot of stress over the years and many different diseases, injuries, and problems can damage them. Ignoring the inflammation and pain only makes the problems worse. The sooner you invest in joint care, the better for your joints—and your comfort! Let our specialists with Family Foot & Ankle Care of Jasper help your arthritis today. Contact our Jasper, IN, office for more information about forms of arthritis and how to manage them, or to schedule a consultation. You can reach us online or by calling (812) 481-7200.