Podiatry is a specialised area that deals with foot care and the mechanics of walking. For people with arthritis, it plays a big role in keeping mobile – making a real difference to your quality of life.
Arthritis frequently affects the feet, making standing and movement very uncomfortable. By understanding the effects of inflammation and degeneration of the joints, the podiatrist can reduce the amount of discomfort associated with arthritis. Pain, whether it’s from arthritis or other foot problems changes the way we walk. And once we change the way we use our feet, we also change the way we turn our ankles, knees, hips and spine.
People who have arthritis in the feet may have:
- Swelling in one or more joints
- Recurring pain or tenderness in any joint
- Redness or heat in a joint
- Limitation in motion of joint
- Early morning stiffness
- Pain when walking
A podiatrist will closely examine the way you walk (called a gait analysis), to help them build a picture of how your foot functions. They will assess the:
- Range of motion
- Pressure on the foot
- Forces on the individual joints
- Compensation (the way you move to protect a painful foot)
There are many things a podiatrist can do to help people with arthritis including:
- Assessment of the feet and advice about strategies for managing the condition.
- Advice about the types of shoes most suitable to the activity and the foot shape.
- Removal or reduction of the hard skin that may develop on toes or under the foot as a result of joint changes. They can also use different methods to protect the areas and prevent recurrence.
- Treating nails which have become thickened and difficult to cut.
- Prescription of orthoses or shoe inserts. As part of a consultation the podiatrist will assess the person’s feet and way of walking and prescribe the orthoses most appropriate for the type of problem the person has.
Podiatrists can help people with arthritis remain both mobile and comfortable. As staying mobile is an essential component of managing the disease process, early intervention by your Podiatrist is vital.