Arthritis is a chronic, progressive, degenerative condition that causes joint inflammation and eventual destruction of the joint surfaces. Joints are comprised of two or more bones that meet to form the joint structure. The ends of these bones are covered with a protective layer of cartilage that promotes smooth joint movement and decreases friction between the bones. In arthritis, the joint surface becomes worn down, increasing friction inside the joint and causing inflammation, pain, and stiffness.
The primary symptoms of arthritis include:
Without proper treatment, arthritic joints can eventually become deformed and very painful. Arthritis can occur in any joint, including the joints in the toes, the midfoot, and the ankle.
Arthritis responds best when treated early, ideally at the first signs of pain or stiffness. The most common treatments include oral anti-inflammatory medications and pain medications, physical therapy and joint massage to relieve stiffness and promote greater mobility, and injections of corticosteroid medications into the joint to relieve pain and swelling. Wearing custom orthotics can also help by providing more support to the affected area and by relieving pressure on the joint. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to fuse the joint, keeping it in one position to prevent joint movement and eliminate painful friction.
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