Without feet and ankles, we wouldn’t be able to walk, run, jump, balance, and perform all sorts of other basic activities. Unfortunately, the joints in the feet and ankles must bear significant impact with all of these activities, making them susceptible to wear and tear.
Arthritis is a group of conditions characterized by joint pain and inflammation. Though there are many types of arthritis, the following are the most likely to develop in the feet and ankles:
Osteoarthritis is also known as wear and tear arthritis. It typically occurs in older age as cartilage in the joints gradually breaks down.
The most common symptoms of foot and ankle osteoarthritis are pain, swelling, achiness, and stiffness in the affected joints. Patients may also experience crunching or grating sounds while moving. These symptoms typically affect one specific joint.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition. With this condition, the immune system mistakenly attacks soft tissue in the joints known as synovium.
Like osteoarthritis, the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in the feet and ankles include pain, stiffness, and inflammation. However, with rheumatoid arthritis, patients are likely to experience symptoms in both feet and/or ankles, rather than a single joint. Additionally, rheumatoid arthritis in the feet and ankles commonly causes foot problems like claw toes and bunions.
Post-traumatic arthritis develops after an injury to the affected joint. Joint fractures and dislocations are the injuries that most often lead to this condition. Similar to osteoarthritis, this type of foot and ankle arthritis occurs because the cartilage that protects the joints starts to break down.
Injured joints are far more likely to become arthritis than uninjured joints. Additionally, joints can become arthritic many years after an injury.
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