People usually associate arthritis with knees and hips. But it’s also very common in the feet. And that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise since each one has 33 joints to make them function.
The term “arthritis” describes numerous conditions that cause joint pain and inflammation. For example, you may have heard of osteoarthritis from wear-and-tear damage on a joint or rheumatoid arthritis due to the immune system.
The causes of the joint pain and inflammation may differ, but the outcome is still the same — joint pain and inflammation.
As you might suspect, arthritis symptoms can be debilitating and disrupt everyday life, especially when they strike an area like the feet. After all, these complex structures help you move, stand, and balance.
Our team at Premier Foot and Ankle Center specializes in diagnosing and treating joint conditions all over the body, especially delicate structures in the feet.
You can’t avoid everything that causes foot arthritis, but these five tips can help reduce your chances of a problem.
Watch your weight
You put a lot of demands on your feet and ankles, even when you simply stand or walk. That’s because your feet have to bear all of your body weight. And it probably doesn’t come as too much of a surprise, but these demands only increase when extra weight adds up — and it doesn’t take much.
Even 10 pounds increases pressure on your knees and lower extremities by 15-50 pounds. That’s a lot to ask of your joints. On top of that, having excess fat on your body accelerates cartilage deterioration, which increases your chances of arthritis symptoms.
Stay active — but smart
Have you ever heard the old phrase “use it or lose it”? Well, it comes into play with arthritis too. Not only can physical activity reduce your risk of arthritis, but it can also ease your symptoms if you already have the condition. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to stay active.
First, focus on low-impact activities that don’t put too much strain on your joints, like swimming, cycling, or walking. Next, use proper equipment that offers support and protection if you engage in activities with a high risk for injury.
Finally, always wear the right shoes for the activity, including everyday use. We can offer personalized recommendations based on your specific needs, but they should be comfortable and supportive.
Your diet is probably the last thing you think of when considering your feet. But a nutritious diet is a crucial component for maintaining joint health and reducing inflammation.
Generally speaking, focus on a wholesome diet with plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. Additional items that can help with arthritis include:
- Omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in sardines, salmon, and other fatty fish
- Berries and grapes
- Broccoli and spinach
- Olive oil
Adopting a healthy diet can also help your weight management efforts.
It’s not easy to quit smoking, but it’s necessary if you want to protect your body, including your feet.
Unfortunately, smoking does more than damage your lungs and increase your chances of cancer. It also takes a toll on your bones and joints. Smoking reduces the blood supply to these tissues and the amount of calcium your system absorbs.
As a result, smokers are 1.5 times more likely to experience overuse injuries, as well as fractures, low back pain, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Take care of your health
Last, but not least, take care of your overall health if you want to avoid foot arthritis, especially if you have other conditions, like diabetes.
Whether you have Type 1 or 2 diabetes, you have a higher chance of foot complications, including arthritis.
In fact, more than half of those with Type 2 also have osteoarthritis. Similarly, if you have an autoimmune disorder like Type 1 diabetes, you automatically have a higher risk of another, like rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis.
Since several conditions can increase your chances of foot-related problems like arthritis, you must work closely with a primary care provider you trust to protect your overall health and wellness.
Do you have foot pain or worry you’re at risk of arthritis? Schedule a consultation at Premier Foot and Ankle Center in Worcester or Webster, Massachusetts, today.