As a person becomes older, they may begin to have problems with painful joints due to inflammation. Osteoarthritis causes pain in these joints due to wear and tear. An older individual with osteoarthritis in his or her ankles and toes may have such symptoms as:

  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Joint deformities
  • Stiffness
  • Damage to soft tissues
  • Loss of cartilage and flexibility in affected areas

How is osteoarthritis in the foot and ankle diagnosed?

A physical examination with a complete medical history begins the diagnosis of osteoarthritis. Testing to confirm the diagnosis of foot and ankle osteoarthritis may also include X-rays or MRI scans.

How is ankle and foot osteoarthritis treated?

The non-surgical ways of relieving pain and improving motion in the foot and ankle joints include:

  • Steroid injections into the affected joints
  • Using anti-inflammatory medications to reduce joint swelling
  • Pads and braces in the shoes
  • Pain relievers
  • Braces to support the joints
  • Physical therapy
  • Orthotics worn in a person’s shoes
  • Losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight

Exercises for the foot and ankle

If a person’s feet are strong and flexible, they’ll experience less arthritis pain. Keeping your toes moving remains a crucial part of improving the way your toes feel Some excellent exercises to keep a person’s feet strong include:

  • Achilles tendon stretch. Lean against a wall keeping your palms flat. Place one foot in the front of the person, and one behind. Next, lean forward while leaving your feet flat on the floor. This exercise feels like a gentle pull on your calf and Achilles tendon. Hold this position for 10 seconds on each side. Repeat the stretch three times.
  • Big toe stretches. Put a thick rubber band around your big toes. Pull the rubber bands so that the big toes move away from each other. Hold this stretch for about five seconds. Repeat the stretch ten times.
  • Toe curls. To perform this exercise, pick up marbles with your toes for good toe stretch.

Will surgery help osteoarthritis in the feet and ankles?

In severe cases of osteoarthritis in the feet and ankles, two types of surgery become needed to provide you with the pain you need and deserve to keep walking and moving. Two regularly recommended operations remain:

  • Fusion surgery. Arthrodesis, or fusion surgery, is when bones are fused together using pins, rods, plates or screws. Once you’ve healed from the operation, the body parts in question remain fused together.
  • Joint replacement surgery. Just like knee replacement surgery, ankle replacement surgery requires an artificial ankle joint to be surgically implanted to replace a worn out ankle joint. Ankle replacement surgery remains rarely used to assist individuals with ankle osteoarthritis.

If your loved one is in a nursing home or skilled nursing facility, they need a knowledgeable staff around them who understand the treatment of people with osteoarthritis. These staff members need to follow through with any doctor’s recommendations as well as monitor and record a person’s physical therapy and progress.

Maplewood of Sauk Prairie’s staff remains such a skilled, experienced group of people who work with osteoarthritis patients in the nursing home and on an outpatient basis. So, for osteoarthritis rehab you can trust for your loved one, please consider working with Maplewood of Sauk Prairie’s inpatient and outpatient rehab facility.