During the month of May, we at Patrick Fettinger, DPM LLC recognize National Arthritis Awareness Month and want to take this opportunity to explore this important health issue and the effect it has on your podiatric health.
Arthritis is actually not just one disease but rather an umbrella term for over 100 different disorders that cause joint pain and discomfort. It affects over 50 million adults and 300,000 children. There are several different categories of arthritis, including:
- Degenerative—this is the type of arthritis that people are most familiar with. It occurs as a result of cartilage wearing away over time. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of degenerative arthritis and most often affects adults over the age of 50.
- Inflammatory—in this kind of arthritis an immune system malfunction causes the body to attack its own joints with severe inflammation. Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis are two examples.
- Infectious—in some cases a virus, fungus or bacterium can invade a joint and trigger inflammation.
- Metabolic—gout is the best example of metabolic arthritis. It is caused by the body being unable to properly process and control levels of uric acid in the body. When uric acid builds up in joints—particularly in the big toe, foot and ankle—it can crystallize and cause extreme pain.
Good Choices for Joint Health
There are a number of ways that you can lower your risk for developing arthritis.
Weight—extra pounds put excessive stress on lower extremity joints. Maintaining an appropriate weight (or losing weight if necessary) can help protect your joints.
Exercise—regular, weight-bearing exercise helps keep joints flexible and strong. Specific exercises can be prescribed by our podiatrist, Patrick Fettinger, DPM to help relieve the symptoms of some types of arthritis.
Injuries—arthritis often develops in joints that have experienced a trauma or injury in the past. Wearing properly fitting footwear designed specifically for the activities you do is one way to help prevent foot injuries. Exercising caution when using ladders, driving and doing other common activities can also lower your risk for damaging feet and ankles.
Of course, there are also risk factors such as genetics or gender that you can’t change. If you do experience any joint pain, stiffness or changes in the normal range of motion of any joints in your feet or ankles, contact our New Fairfield (203-746-9660) or Middlebury (203-598-0357) office for an appointment.
At Patrick Fettinger, DPM LLC we know that spring sports are heating up in Fairfield County and lots of young athletes are getting out on the fields and courts. Too often, however, we see injuries and chronic foot disorders as a result of sports. The good news is that many of these can be prevented and parents can play a key role in ensuring that their child enjoys a safe season.
Check Up on Young Feet
Before your child suits up for a new sport, an examination at our New Fairfield (203-746-9660) or Middlebury (203-598-0357) office is a smart idea, especially if there has been a previous foot or ankle injury or an ongoing podiatric condition. Our foot doctor, Patrick Fettinger, DPM will analyze your child’s foot and determine if there are any special needs or accommodations necessary for safe sport participation. Protection against disorders like chronic ankle instability and heel pain will prevent injury and help your child play pain-free. A service we offer that is particularly helpful in sports medicine is computerized gait scan. This tool can help diagnose biomechanical dysfunction and improve athletic performance.
Choose the Right Footwear
No matter what sport your child plays, the equipment that is most important is the same: their shoes. Appropriate footwear prevents injuries. Shoes should:
- Fit properly—get feet professionally measured at a sports shoe store
- Be designed for the specific sport your child plays
- Have good ankle and arch support
- Not be hand me downs
The final component for a safe and successful season is a sound program. Your child should be coached by a qualified person who understands the sport and the conditioning necessary to play it. Practices should emphasize proper technique and drills should include appropriate time for stretching and warming up as well as a cool down period at the end. Training should start slowly and gradually increase in intensity and duration to prevent lower extremity injuries like Achilles tendonitis and shin splints. There should also be days off and periods of rest to avoid overuse injuries such as stress fractures and Sever’s disease.
If after starting a sport your child experiences foot or ankle pain, never encourage them to “play through it.” Contact us for an appointment so that we evaluate your child’s condition and prescribe any necessary treatment.
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