By the time you are diagnosed with arthritis in the foot and ankle, you have most likely been dealing with foot and ankle pain for quite a while. Foot arthritis pain tends to come and go, but when it's present it can be very uncomfortable, to the point of being debilitating. Luckily, there are specific things you can do to manage and treat arthritic pain and maintain full function in your feet and ankles. Here are a few things to keep in mind after being diagnosed with arthritis of the feet and ankles:
Prepare for the Cold Months
Many people with arthritis experience more noticeable joint pain during the cold winter months. This may mean that you make it through the spring and summer without much discomfort, only to be unpleasantly surprised by pain as soon as the temperatures drop. The ideal way to handle this possibility is to prepare for it ahead of time. You can help mitigate the effects of cold weather by making sure you stay bundled up, which is a good reason to splurge on a new winter coat, gloves, and thermal under layers in the summer when they are more likely to be on sale.
Sealing any drafts in your home and getting a furnace tune-up may also help, since the more toasty warm your home is, the less likely you are to be affected by the cold weather. Keeping a healthy weight is always a good idea for arthritic patients, but especially in the cold when the symptoms tend to be worse.
Orthotic shoe inserts have been shown to relieve pain from foot and ankle arthritis, and even slow the progression of arthritis so it doesn't continue to get worse. Shoe inserts made specifically for those experiencing arthritis pain are now available online as well as in some drugstores and other retailers.
The most effective orthotics, however, are those custom-fitted and made by your podiatrist. These will be designed specifically for your measurements and to provide the ideal amount of support for your unique body, and they can also be changed over time if your arthritis does happen to become more severe.
Try Physical Therapy
Some people find that attending physical therapy helps ease the pain of arthritis, decreasing stiffness and swelling, and promoting better flexibility, strength, and range of motion. Your doctor or podiatrist can refer you to a physical therapist who accepts your insurance. At your first appointment, your physical therapist will have you perform specific exercises and motions while taking measurements and asking questions about your joint pain. They will then have you do stretching and strengthening exercises aimed at alleviating the symptoms of arthritis.
Typically, your physical therapist will provide you with a routine of stretches and exercises to do at home each day. You will continue to come in periodically so they can measure your progress and improvement, and also make adjustments to your exercise routine as needed.
Incorporate an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Since arthritis and inflammation are closely linked, eating a diet that emphasizes natural anti-inflammatories may help alleviate your joint pain and stiffness and prevent your arthritis from becoming progressively worse.
While the specific anti-inflammatory diet that will most help you depends on the type of arthritis affecting your feet and ankles, it is generally a good idea to eat a diet rich in nutrients and antioxidants and omega-3s, and limit your intake of sodium and processed foods. Cooking with turmeric, a spice often found in Indian food, is another way to get an anti-inflammatory boost to your diet.
By working closely with a podiatrist with arthritis expertise and keeping the tips on this list in mind, your arthritic pain will soon be under control. Contact your podiatrist for more info.