Osteoarthritis & Rheumatoid Arthritis What’s the Difference?
7 Treatments your podiatrist can provide for pain management
Your podiatrist can help you manage both Osteoarthritic Pain in the feet as well as Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain. We can assist with pain by
- Restoring mobility – using mobilisation techniques
- Prescribing specific exercises to aid muscle strength surrounding effected joints
- Improve alignment of the foot with soft shock absorbing orthotics to stop impingement on misaligned joints.
- Advise on specific footwear
- Treat joint and soft tissue pain with shockwave therapy
- For Acute swelling – use low level laser
- Acupuncture – to reduce contractures in tendons and muscle tightness
Osteoarthritis (wear & tear)
Osteoarthritis typically presents in patients in later years of life and can be asymptomatic through to severe joint pain. It is an ongoing process of degradation of tissue which involves bone, synovium, ligaments and muscle. Symptoms commonly affect joints which take load during daily activities such as hips, knees, ankles, and many of the joints of the foot. Symptoms are those of stiffness which lasts for approximately 30 minutes in the morning and joint pain which worsens towards the end of the day or with increased activity. Risk factors for osteoarthritis includes age, genetic contribution, nutritional deficits, previous joint damage, muscle weakness which bridges the affected joint, increasing bone density, malalignment of joints and increased use or loading of joints.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (autoimmune)
Rheumatoid Arthritis is different to osteoarthritis and is known as a degenerative autoimmune disorder where the bodies immune system attacks the tissues of the joint including bone, ligaments, tendons and supporting muscle causing inflammation and bone degeneration resulting in pain of the affected areas. This type of arthritis typically affects small joints of the body such as those of the fingers and toes and especially the balls of the feet. Symptoms are similar to OA but more swelling and “attacks” of pain can occur. Weakness in the joint can also be a symptom. Duration of morning stiffness can be longer than 60 minutes.
Custom made foot inserts called Orthotics have been found to reduce the risk of foot deformities in Rheumatoid Arthritis. Although treatment for this disease typically includes medications prescribed by a rheumatologist, your podiatrist can provide conservative symptomatic relief to the joints affected through correct footwear fitting, biomechanical joint and soft tissue support through orthotic therapy and skin and nail care, to aid mobility and decrease pain with daily function.