Arthritis is a disease of the joints, which causes them to become inflamed and stiffen. There are three main types of arthritis – Rheumatoid arthritis, Osteoarthritis and Gout. Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation in many joints of the body including the feet and tends to occur symmetrically. For example, if your right big toe is swollen and painful, chances are your left big toe will be too. RA is a chronic inflammatory disease where a faulty immune system attacks the tissue that lines and cushions the joints, leaving them swollen, painful and stiff. It tends to affect the smaller joints such as the toes first, so feet are often one of the first places to be affected.
Osteoarthritis is often called the ‘wear and tear’ arthritis. It occurs when the cartilage of a joint becomes damaged. When the cartilage deteriorates, the bone underneath can thicken, causing pain, stiffness and swelling. Osteoarthritis can affect any of the 33 joints in the feet but mostly affects the joint at the base of the big toe which is more prone to wear and tear from the pressures of walking.
Gout is the result of an imbalance of uric acid in the body and manifests via a build-up of uric acid in the blood. Small crystals may form, which collect in the joint causing irritation and inflammation, and which can be very painful and severe. The main symptom of gout is waking up in the middle of the night with an acute throbbing pain in the big toe, which is swollen. Usually only one of the big toes is affected. The pain lasts for a few hours and usually subsides then doesn’t return for a few months.
We can help to alleviate issues by adapting your existing footwear with orthoses (insoles), which redistribute the pressure as you walk, or other devices such as toe props and shields, which fit easily into your shoes and help redistribute pressure away from the affected parts.
Hove Foot Clinic 24 Carlisle Road Hove BN3 4FR
Arthritis Research UK
The College of Podiatrists
Multiple Sclerosis Society UK
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