How Does Arthritis Affect Feet and Ankles?
If you experience persistent pain and swelling in your joints, you likely suffer from arthritis. When you have this ailment, your cartilage has a diminished capacity to perform its intended function, which is to prevent your bones from grinding directly on each other. This accounts for the pain and stiffness that you feel, especially in any of your body’s many joints.
The term “arthritis” is actually a bit of a catch-all for inflammation in a joint and can refer to any of a couple different arthritic conditions, which include:
Osteoarthritis – The most common form of arthritis, this is the “wear and tear” variety that stems from cartilage breakdown in the joints. The bones that comprise a joint are covered at the ends with a hard, slippery tissue (cartilage) that assists with movement. When the tissue breaks down, the resulting situation is similar to an unoiled hinge.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – Instead of your body breaking down over time, this is a matter of your body actually attacking itself. In this autoimmune disorder, your immune system mistakes the lining of your joints for an internal threat.
Gout – Unlike the other variations, this complex form of arthritis is affected by your diet. It happens when there is an accumulation of urate crystals in one of your joints, often where the big toe meets the foot. Certain foods contain substances known as purines and when your body breaks them down, the resulting byproduct is uric acid. This acid is typically dissolved and passed through your kidneys, but if your body produces too much, it can build up and form those urate crystals.
Post-traumatic arthritis – This arthritic condition develops following a dislocation or fracture, particularly when a joint becomes injured. It may take years for this arthritis to emerge and it doesn’t matter if the injury was properly treated – hormones secreted within the body are what ultimately cause it.