There are many popular misconceptions across countless areas in our world. For example:
- Marie Antoinette never said “let them eat cake.” (The term was coined by a political writer and philosopher when Antoinette was only nine years old.)
- Napoleon Bonaparte wasn’t short. (The French emperor was actually around 5’7”, which was slightly above average for a Frenchman at the time.)
- Twinkies do not last forever. (They have a shelf life of 45 days…but we recommend making better dietary choices anyhow.)
Another common misconception is the notion that arthritis is a single disease. In reality, there are over 100 different forms of arthritis and arthritis-related diseases (according to the Arthritis Foundation). The commonality between all of these types is the simple fact they cause pain and inflammation in joints. In fact, the word “arthritis” literally means “joint inflammation.”
Given that there are 33 different joints in the feet and ankles, it’s easy to see why arthritic conditions affect many of our patients. Now, there may be over a hundred different varieties, but they are not all as equally common. When considering cases of arthritis in the foot or ankle, we are more likely to treat:
- Osteoarthritis – When people think about arthritis, they usually think about a condition wherein joints become painful and swollen due to “wear and tear” over time. Well, that is actually osteoarthritis – the most common form of arthritis. Treatment for this condition can be centered on medication to relieve pain and swelling, and exercising to strengthen the muscles that support joints and improve flexibility and range of motion.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – Whereas osteoarthritis develops over time in response to usage, RA is a disease wherein the body’s immune system identifies the lining in joints as a threat. In response to this perceived threat, the immune system starts attacking and breaking down the protective lining. At this time, medical experts are uncertain as to why RA happens.
- Gout – This arthritic condition is unique in the fact it is caused by dietary choices. The core issue with gout—which causes sharp, stabbing pain in the joint where the big toe connects to the foot—is a buildup of uric acid in the bloodstream. Uric acid is a normal byproduct of food breakdown at the cellular level. It is normally filtered out through the kidneys and expelled in urine. When too much is in the bloodstream, or the kidneys do not filter it properly, the acid deposits into joints—especially the one at the base of the big toe—and crystalizes. These urate crystals have sharp points, which are the source of the sharp pain. Making different dietary choices can be beneficial for managing and preventing the condition from developing.