Foot Health Month

01 June 2011

It is Foot Health Month for the entire month of June.

There are numerous forms of arthritis but Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) are common.
OA is the most common and is caused by trauma and stress to the cartilage around the joints which can be as a result of general wear and tear, or an injury. OA is very common in foot joints.
RA is one of the more severe types of arthritis although it is much less common. RA affects around 2 per cent of the UK population and is twice are prevalent in women than men. RA occurs when the body’s immune system turns on itself, causing inflammation in the joint lining.  
If someone is experiencing problems with their feet, then often a podiatrist is their first point of call and can help indentify if it’s arthritis that is causing the problem, and consequently refer the patient depending on the severity of the disease.
If you have already been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, treatment may involve non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, footwear, insoles, or other help. But living with the pain is not inevitable – something can always be done to help control the disease and help your quality of life. Talk to your podiatrist, GP or consultant about what can be done.
Early detection: Arthritis is more easily treated if detected early. It is therefore important for people to self-monitor and be aware of any developing symptoms.
Regular exercise: Taking part in regular exercise and activity throughout your life is great for reducing the effects of arthritis however it’s important that you choose low impact sports that don’t bear heavily on limbs and joints. Activities such as cycling and swimming are great and over time can actually increase the thickness of the cartilage in the joints.
Footwear: Arthritis is caused by inflammation and wear and tear to the joints which may be caused or exacerbated by wearing high heels and unsupportive footwear. For general daywear, try to wear a low heeled, round toed shoe of around 2-3cm in height with shock absorbent sole and lace/strap to help minimise damage to the joints. When doing exercise, ensure you wear trainers that are fitted and designed specifically for that form of exercise.
Weight loss: Try to remain a healthy weight. Arthritis is caused by mechanical stress on the joints and extra weight can exacerbate the problem.
Diet: There is currently no conclusive evidence about diet and arthritis but experts advise eating a healthy, balanced diet to limit any problems. A Mediterranean diet that includes lots of olive oil and Omega is said to be good for the joints. Dietary supplements such as glucosamine or chondroitin may help make the cartilage more resilient, but evidence is not yet conclusive.

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