A joint can experience significant wear and tear over the years, and may eventually wear out.  Where two bones meet, a soft, slick, cushioning, pliable tissue called cartilage helps the bones glide against one another in a painless, efficient manner.  Several different factors can result in the damage or loss of the cartilage, causing the bones to rub together.  These factors include history of trauma, other disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, genetics, or poor mechanics.  Depending upon the severity of the damage to the cartilage, pain, swelling, and possible limitation of motion of the joint results.

Depending upon where the joint is located, treatment options can vary.  For early stage arthritis of the foot or ankle, anti-inflammatory medication, rest, ice, use of more supportive shoes, arch supports, steroid injection, physical therapy, and mobility exercises may offer relief.  In more advanced cases of arthritis, surgery is an option.  Surgery options vary widely by the particular joint involved, the severity of arthritis, age and overall health of the patient, as well as other factors.  Options can include surgery to improve the mechanics of the joint, preserving the joint, allowing more fluid motion, reducing pain, and improved function.  Other cases may require fusion of the joint, where the remaining joint tissue is removed and hardware (screws and/or plates) are used to cause the two bones to grow together, removing the pain of the arthritic joint.  Finally, joint replacement is an option in particular joints, including the ball of the great toe and ankle joint.

If you suffer from arthritic foot or ankle pain, or what you believe may be arthritis, give us a call.  Treatment options are available!

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