Arthritis Can Harm Your Feet Too

Foot joints are crucial for movement. Foot and ankle joints stabilize the foot and allow side-to-side movement. Despite the benefits, ankle joints, like several other joints in the body, are prone to arthritis. Arthritis can be painful, debilitating, and impact the quality of life. Should the pain come to this stage, some surgeons perform foot or ankle arthrodesis to stabilize the joint.

3 Things to Know Before Your FESS surgery

Understanding foot and ankle arthritis

Between most joints is smooth cartilage that helps with shock absorption and movement. Arthritis is the wear and tear of the cartilage between a joint. This can happen due to age, injury, or immune system disorders causing friction, pain, inflammation, and stiffness. Nearly 1 in 4 Americans have some form of arthritis. Most cases happen in larger joints like the knee, hip, and shoulder, but foot arthritis is also common.

Symptoms and treatment options

Food and ankle arthritis affects one or more of the over 30 joints in the foot. Common symptoms include swelling, tenderness, pain, and a loss of motion. The continued pain often requires a treatment plan once a doctor confirms the issue is arthritis. This plan includes strategies like physical therapy, painkillers, steroid injections, and custom-made braces or shoes. Over time, however, arthritis can become so severe that foot and ankle arthrodesis is the best solution.

Is it time for a fusion?

Arthrodesis is the process of fusing joints to form solid bone. This surgery is expected when the damaged joints are severely impacting movement. An orthopedic surgeon uses a series of small incisions to access the joint to perform the surgery. An arthroscope goes into one incision, which gives the surgeon a view of the damaged joint. Next, the surgeon will remove damaged tissue and bone. The joint is then held together with pins, screws, or rods. If there is missing bone, a bone graft is installed, taken from another part of the body. Once the procedure is done, the stitches are closed and the foot bandaged.

What happens next?

Once the surgery is successful, the patient can leave the same day in an outpatient setting. Most patients can resume everyday life over several weeks of physical therapy and pain management. The bone takes about 12 to 18 months to heal fully. Arthrodesis has a high success rate, but there are complications, like a loss of motion. Speak with the surgeon to understand all risks and to raise any concerns.

A sturdy joint for you

The stiff, painful joints caused by foot and ankle arthritis can impact movement. Some patients prefer to avoid social gatherings and lose time at work. Painkillers and physical therapy can help. However, if the pain persists, surgery is the best option. Joint fusion surgery creates a solid piece of bone that can reduce pain and improve the quality of life.

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