262011Jun

Arthritis and your feet!

PUT THE RIGHT FOOT FORWARD TO

PREVENT AND TREAT ARTHRITIS

Howlett & Dickinson offers preventative advice and treatment for arthritis

Hidden away in socks and shoes at the end of our bodies, our feet can often be neglected and our foot health overlooked. As part of the annual Feet for Life Month in June, The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists is raising awareness ofall aspects of foot care and foot health, with a specific focus this year on arthritis.

Arthritis is often associated with older age, and while you are more likely to develop arthritis as you get older,it can occur at any age and usually develops between the ages of 20 and 50. There are also steps you can take to help prevent your chances of developing the condition later in life.

Knees and feet are particularly prone to arthritis and The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists is urging people to be vigilant about pain in these areas to help aid detection and improve quality of life and treatment.

Howlett & Dickinson explained:

“Arthritis of any form can cause great pain for the sufferer but the good news is that there are things you can do to help prevent arthritis and there are also ways to ease the
symptoms if you do develop it. Maintaining a healthy weight and keeping active through low impact sports such as swimming and cycling can help to preventarthritis in later life, as can choosing supportive footwear which reduces pressure on the joints. The key to treatment is early detection so if you do experience pain, swelling and stiffness in your joints, see a podiatrist or health professional for advice.”

WHAT IS ARTHRITIS?

There are numerous forms of arthritis but Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) are common.

OA is the most common and is caused by trauma and stress to the cartilage around the joints which can be as a result of general wear and tear, or an injury. OA is very common in foot joints.

RA is one of the more severe types of arthritis although it is much less common. RA affects around 2 per cent of the UK population and is twice are prevalent in women than men. RA occurs when the body’s immune system turns on itself, causing inflammation in the joint lining.

TREATMENT:

If someone is experiencing problems with their feet, then often a podiatrist is their first point of call and can help indentify ifit’s arthritis that is causing the problem, and consequently refer the patient depending on the severity of the disease.

If you have already been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, treatment may involve non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, footwear, insoles, or other help. But living with the pain is not inevitable – something can always be done to help control the disease and help your quality of life. Talk to your podiatrist, GP or consultant about what can be done.

If you are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, regular checks are important, at least annually for feet, according to the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). People with RA are likely to need stronger medication and should be seen by a specialist rheumatologist. As medical treatment advances, more help than ever is available to aid ongoing foot problems. There is now good evidence for the use of insoles and footwear helping people with rheumatoid arthritis, particularly in the early years, soon after diagnosis. Your podiatrist can help by aligning your joints to ease pain and prescribing insoles and footwear to limit joint damage. If the arthritis is severe, surgery may help.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Early detection: Arthritis is more easily treated if detected early. It is therefore important for people to self-monitor and be aware of any developing symptoms.

Regular exercise: Taking part in regular exercise and activity throughout your life is great for reducing the effects of arthritis however it’s important that you choose low impact sports that don’t bear heavily on limbs and joints. Activities such as cycling and swimming are great and over time can actually increase the thickness of the cartilage in the joints.

Footwear:
Arthritis is caused by inflammation and wear and tear to the joints which may be caused or exacerbated by wearing high heels and unsupportive footwear. For general daywear, try to wear a low heeled, round toed shoe of around 2-3cm in height with shock absorbent sole and lace/strap to help minimise damage to the joints. When doing exercise, ensure you wear trainers that are fitted and designed specifically for that form of exercise.

Weight loss:
Try to remain a healthy weight. Arthritis is caused by mechanical stress on the joints and extra weight can exacerbate the problem.

Diet:

There is currently no conclusive evidence about diet and arthritis but experts advise eating a healthy, balanced diet to limit any problems. A Mediterranean diet that includes
lots of olive oil and Omega is said to be good for the joints. Dietary supplements such as glucosamine or chondroitin may help make the cartilage more resilient, but evidence is not yet conclusive.

This June, why not head down to Howlett & Dickinson and have a foot health checkwith a qualified podiatrist? Appointments can be made by calling 0191 2843698.

More information on foot health, with free leaflets and tips can be
found on the Society’s website
www.feetforlife.org.