Arthritis is a destructive condition which affects the body’s joints. When arthritis strikes joints in the foot, walking can become difficult and painful. When arthritis attacks a joint such as a knee, hip or spine, people try to compensate by standing, walking or sitting differently. This changes the distribution of their body weight which in turn affects their feet. As pain in a joint worsens, people avoid movement in an effort to protect the joint and lessen the pain. This contributes to an ongoing cycle: pain, limited motion, and loss of flexibility, further joint deterioration, and increasing pain.
The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid. The inflammatory types (Rheumatoid Arthritis) are often marked by episodes of stiffness, heat, redness and/or swelling and pain. Later as the disease “burns out” joint deformity is a large problem. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition which gradually worsens over time. It usually affects the knees, hips, spine or finger. With osteoarthritis the body attacks it own cartilage between the joints and the end result is bone on bone. Gout is another type of arthritis that can cause complications in the foot. Gout is caused by excessive amounts of uric acid in the blood stream which can form microscopic crystals that settle in the joints. The most common joint is the big toe but has also can affect the ankle. This is called gouty arthritis or acute gout. Gout affects mostly men and is rarely seen in women until after menopause.
Custom orthotics and the proper footwear can alleviate problems caused by arthritis. Orthotics and footwear can change a person’s balance, improve alignment, or alter the way they stand. Custom orthotics can also relieve arthritis in the knees. Many accommodative materials are available for orthotics. Plastozote foam is a soft accommodative foam that is often used with arthritic conditions of the foot. Plastozote bottoms out quickly and needs to be replaced often so PTI Orthotics uses more advanced materials. Soft cushiony urethane foams, silicone gels, and visco elastic polymers are state of the art soft tissue supplements. Heat moldable shoes and shoes that are made out of spandex stretch easily to accommodate fore foot deformities such as bunions, and hammer or claw toes that are common with arthritis. This often reduces the need for custom made shoes which can cost $1000.00 per pair!