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Dos and Don'ts for Managing Foot and Ankle Arthritis

Dos and Don'ts for Managing Foot and Ankle Arthritis

Your feet and ankles are engineering marvels — about one-quarter of the bones in your body are located in your feet. And that’s to say nothing of the effort your ankles make. In fact, by the age of 50, most people have logged about 75,000 miles on their feet and ankles.

These miles can take their toll in the form of foot or ankle arthritis. Since May is Arthritis Awareness Month, our team at Neuhaus Foot and Ankle wants to review best practices for managing foot and ankle arthritis. Let’s dive in.

Don’t ignore your symptoms

If your feet or ankles become painful, stiff, or swollen, these are clear signs that something is going on that you shouldn’t ignore. As you’re probably all too aware if you’re reading this, pain in your feet and ankles can greatly impact your daily life, so you want to act quickly to get to the bottom of your problem.

Do get the right help for foot and ankle arthritis

More than 53 million people in the United States have doctor-diagnosed arthritis, and areas like the feet and ankles certainly rank high.

Several types of arthritis can affect your feet and ankles, including:

So, if you’re struggling with foot and ankle pain, we need to identify which type of arthritis is affecting these joints so we can create a treatment plan. We might also find that your symptoms aren’t due to arthritis but instead to a non-arthritis issue, which will lead us in a different treatment direction.

The bottom line is that any time you have pain in your feet and ankles, it’s important to seek the help of foot health experts like the Neuhaus Foot and Ankle team.

Do strengthen your feet and ankles

If we diagnose you with foot or ankle arthritis, we’ll do our part to treat the issue, but you can do yours at home. To start, we highly recommend exercises that strengthen the muscles that surround the joints in your feet and ankles. 

Whether you scrunch a towel with your toes or do flexion exercises with your ankles, these strengthening exercises can help take the pressure off your arthritic joints.

Do use hot and cold therapy

A great practice for arthritis is to use hot and cold therapies. You can start by icing the inflamed and painful joints for about 10-20 minutes. Then, switch off and try heating the area for the same amount of time. Hot and cold therapies relieve pain and inflammation and encourage more blood flow and resources to your damaged joints.

Do use bracing or orthotics

When our patients see us for foot and ankle arthritis, we often recommend bracing or orthotics for more support. For example, if you enjoy walking but ankle arthritis flares up when you do, we can outfit you with a supportive brace that should help you go the distance.

Similarly, custom orthotics can provide the joints in your feet with more support.

Don’t push it when your feet or ankles hurt

While the above tips are designed to help you move more freely when you have foot or ankle arthritis, you need to also listen to your body. If you feel pain, take a load off and rest the joints in your lower limbs.

Managing arthritis is a balance between moving your joints and resting them. This balance is essential for your feet.

For more great practices for dealing with foot and ankle arthritis, we invite you to contact one of our 13 locations in Tennessee to schedule an appointment with one of our podiatry specialists.

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