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.