When we hear the word “arthritis,” we might think of an octogenarian stooped over with a cane. We know her joints hurt because she tells us (“I’m so stiff!”) and we can see how she moves so slowly, with such difficulty.
But what exactly is arthritis? Is it our fate to get arthritis when we’re old and gray?
Definition of Arthritis
Arthritis can be defined as a disease of the joints (which are the places in the body where two bones come together). The pain and stiffness of arthritis can affect any joint in the body – your fingers, toes, knees, and wrists, for example, all contain joints and so they are all susceptible to the effects of arthritis.
While it’s true that almost half of all people who reach their senior years will get arthritis, it’s not just a disease of the elderly. Some types of arthritis can affect infants and children, but the risk of getting it certainly does increase with age.
The 2 Main Types of Arthritis
There are many types of arthritis, but the doctors at Montgomery Foot Care Specialists place them into two main categories:
- Rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive autoimmune disease whose causes are unknown. With rheumatoid arthritis, the membranes that surround and protect a joint become inflamed as the immune system mistakenly attacks them. The muscles around the joint begin to waste away. The bones begin to deteriorate. It’s possible to hear actual creaks of the joints when you move them. Rheumatoid arthritis can be crippling.
- Osteoarthritis is more commonly known as “wear and tear” arthritis. What’s wearing down is the cartilage (soft tissue) that separates one bone from the next. When the cartilage wears down enough, you eventually have bone touching other bone. Your joints hurt because the natural cushioning of the cartilage is missing.
Symptoms of arthritis in your feet
If the joints of your feet or toes are affected by arthritis, you’ll experience one or more of these symptoms:
- pain – sometimes described as a dull ache
- sudden, acute pain in your big toe could indicate a very specific form of arthritis called gout
- difficulty walking.
Michael L. Rosenberg, DPM and Heidi M. Christie, DPM, the experienced podiatrists at our office in Montgomery, AL, can recommend the best treatments for your aching foot joints. With arthritis, early intervention is key, so call us at (334) 396-3668 or make an appointment online at the first sign of pain.