Beauchamp Foot Care, London: Arthritis
Welcome to our first blog. Over a period of time it is hoped that conditions that can seriously affect the feet will be considered. There are several health conditions that can cause pain and difficulty in walking such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Diabetes can also cause extreme difficulties for the feet and it is always very important that your podiatrist is fully aware of any condition you may have and any treatment you may be undergoing.
The articles are for information purposes only. If clients have any concerns or recognise any of the symptoms raised in any of the blogs it is very important to see your own doctor and not self diagnose.
There are two main types of arthritis, Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the main form of arthritis and is known as the “wear and tear” disorder. It can affect any joint. The big toe is especially susceptible due to the tremendous amounts of pressure that is placed upon it while we are walking. Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage to erode and then causes the bone ends to fuse which results in stiffness and aching of the joints. Osteoarthritis can also follow a fracture or a bad sprain to the foot.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a systemic disease, which affects the whole body. Rheumatoid arthritis affects all the joints and muscles in the foot. It affects more women than men and can be inherited. The insides of the joints become swollen and stiff. It affects the feet by causing a gradual collapse of the arch of the foot; the toes contract and draw back. Bunions are also common amongst the elderly rheumatoid arthritis patient.
Rheumatoid arthritis can be classed as a chronic disease (all year round) which causes inflammation of the lining of the joints. It can lead to long-term joint damage, chronic pain, loss of function and disability.
Rheumatoid arthritis progresses to cause swelling of the joints which then leads to pain, warmth, stiffness and redness around the joint. As the disease becomes established it can also cause joints to lose their shape and alignment, more pain, and loss of movement.Rheumatoid arthritis will not go away. It cannot be ignored and will continue into old age. It is a systemic disease which means it can affect other organs. Early diagnosis is vital. If diagnosed and treated early then it is still possible to lead a normal life. Treatment can be aggressive but this can limit the damage done to the joint and possibly prevent surgery.
The causes of rheumatoid arthritis
Although unknown there are many theories as to the causes of rheumatoid arthritis such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi. It is also believed that rheumatoid arthritis may be genetically inherited. Certain infections or environmental factors might trigger the immune system to attack the body’s own tissues, resulting in inflammation in various organs of the body such as the lungs or eyes.
The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis:
- Lack of appetite
- Low grade fever
- Muscle and joint aches
- During a flare joints appear red, swollen, painful and tender
The symptoms can come and go it all depends on the degree of tissue inflammation. When the tissues are inflamed the disease is active. When the tissue inflammation subsides then the disease is considered inactive, or in remission which can come about by treatment or spontaneously on its own. A flare is when the disease becomes active again.
A flare can be very disabling, simple tasks such as dressing yourself or turning a door handle or opening a jar can become very difficult and painful. The small joints of the feet are also often involved. Severe inflammation can lead to the destruction of tissue bone and cartilage and ultimately to joint deformity and loss of function.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a serious disease. It is crucial that you get an early diagnosis.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease and is the most common form of arthritis. It affects middle-aged and older people. However, it can also occur in younger patients. It often occurs in joints where there has been a previous injury.
Osteoarthritis is caused due to the degeneration of the joint cartilage. There are many reasons for cartilage loss, some are hereditary, but mostly it is due to wear and tear. Some factors which make osteoarthritis most likely are:
- Obesity (excess strain on joints)
- Joint injury or over-use (sports people are particularly prone)
- Family history of osteoarthritis
- Some people who have rheumatoid arthritis also develop so-called secondary osteoarthritis in the joints where their rheumatoid arthritis was active
Diagnosis is made by physical examination and x-rays. The most common joints to suffer osteoarthritis are the wrists, the knees, elbow and hips. The podiatrist can play a very important role with regards to ensuring the feet are kept healthy. Arthritis can cause calluses. These may form on the metatarsal heads which can be removed and made more comfortable at the clinic.
As mentioned earlier, there are many conditions that can affect your feet and your general well being. The rare and complex disease known as Behcets disease is also an immune disorder. Recently the clinic raised money to help the Behcets Society keep going. Without donations from the public many of these rare medical conditions go unnoticed. I wanted to use this blog to firstly thank all those who kindly donated. Behcets Disease and the dreadful affect it has on those who suffer from it will be raised in a future blog.
All information on this website is for general guidance only and is not intended as a substitute for the personal medical advice of health care professionals or your own doctor.