Podiatry for arthritis

Podiatry is the study of lower leg, foot and ankle problems and the mechanics of walking. This includes the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of many foot conditions.

But podiatry is also particularly relevant to arthritis sufferers. The reason for this is that arthritis often affects the joints of the feet which make it difficult to stand or walk. Plus the joints become swollen and deformed which affects the types of shoes sufferers can wear.

Many people who have arthritis in their hands find it difficult to tie laces or pull a shoe on or off.

We know that a well fitting pair of shoes will not cure your arthritis but they will go some way to easing the symptoms as well as enabling you to walk freely.

Podiatry is discussed as follows:

  • The role of a podiatrist
  • Treatment options

The role of a podiatrist

The podiatrist will have knowledge about the effects of arthritis in regard to the feet. He/she understand that painful, swollen joints in the feet can lead to a deformity or disability which affects your ability to walk as normal.

To start with, he/she will perform a test called ‘gait analysis’. This is where you are asked to walk up and down the room (or on a treadmill) whilst the podiatrist looks at your walking action.

He or she will be looking at the way you walk, the amount of pressure you put on your feet and whether you overcompensate to protect the arthritic foot. He/she will also be interested in the amount of movement in the joints.

You may be referred for X-rays and/or ultrasound scans as well.

Treatment options

The results of these tests will be used to devise an individual treatment plan. This means insoles or ‘orthotics’ which will correct any faults in your walking gait or special shoes which will support your affected foot.

The podiatrist can advise you about what types of shoes to purchase; devices which make it easier to put on or remove shoes; keeping your feet warm especially if you have problems with your circulation.

Plus he/she will advise you about ways of walking which will ease the pressure on your affected foot.

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