Tips for Managing Foot & Ankle Arthritis

Arthritis PainTwin Falls is one of the most active communities in the country. Hiking, hunting, fishing, camping, four-wheeling—just about any outdoor activity you can think of is right at our doorstep. That’s one reason why the effects of arthritis in the feet or ankles can hit members of our community especially hard. When pain and stiffness prevent you from walking, moving, or going where you want to, you might find yourself scaling back considerably on activities you used to love.

At Advanced Foot & Ankle, our mission is to keep you as active, mobile, and independent as possible. Not only is this good for your mental health, but it’s actually good for your joints to stay active too, as long as they aren’t hurting you. Fortunately, there are several strategies and treatments you can use to help manage your arthritis pain.

  • Modify your activities. No, we’re not saying you can’t ever go for a run or a hike. But there are other ways to be active and still reduce the pressure on your joints. Choosing to go for a bike ride or swim, for example, has a lower risk of aggravating your condition. If you develop serious pain during activity, don’t try to push through—take a break, and give yourself some “tactical” rest days as needed.
  • Support your feet. Everything starts with a good pair of shoes, appropriate for your chosen activity. If you’re still experiencing pain, we can fit you with a pair of custom orthotics. Unlike cushioned insoles you can buy at the drug store, custom orthotics are individually crafted to your specifications. They can ease pressure on your joints through added cushioning, additional arch support, ankle stability, and more. Other assistive devices that may help include ankle braces or even a walking stick or cane.
  • Do physical therapy. Often, a program of selected stretches, exercises, or even massage can help you reduce pain and strain on the joints of your feet and ankles. We can help you select good exercises to try, or refer you to a PT if necessary.
  • Lose weight (if you need to). Each pound of weight that you carry represents several pounds’ worth of force on your feet and ankles with every step you take. Obviously, we don’t want you to be underweight, but if you know you need to lose a little, you can add “less arthritis pain” to your list of reasons to start now.
  • Take medications (safely). In terms of over-the-counter solutions, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (like ibuprofen or naproxen), oral analgesics, or topical analgesics may provide temporary relief. Please talk to your doctor before starting to take any medications regularly, even those that are over-the-counter. If pain remains stubborn, we may provide a stronger prescription or a steroid injection.

If these strategies aren’t getting you the relief you need, we may consider more aggressive forms of treatment, including surgery. This might include smoothing out rough cartilage or bone spurs (debridement), cleaning joint surfaces, or even fusing a joint to prevent continued painful motion.

Stiff, painful joints don’t have to keep you from continuing to explore the outdoors and enjoy your daily activities! If you’re having any problems with your feet or ankles, give us a call at (208) 731-6321. We have offices in Twin Falls and in Burley to serve you.

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