Degenerative joint disease, also called DJD, includes rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and other less-common disorders such as avascular necrosis, where the head of the femur no longer has a healthy supply of blood, which causes bone destruction. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, whereas osteoarthritis is typically caused by "wear and tear" on the joints. Here are some ways degenerative joint diseases can affect your feet and some treatment options your foot doctor may recommend.
Symptoms Of DJD
Degenerative joint diseases can cause pain and inflammation of your foot and ankle bones, and in some cases, soft tissue swelling. You may experience pain when walking or standing for long periods of time, and experience stiffness in your ankles and toes when you wake up.
You may also have decreased range of motion and develop a limp and loss of balance. In addition, the affected joints of the foot and ankle may appear red and warm to the touch. While redness and warmth may be more likely to occur in those with rheumatoid arthritis, these symptoms can also develop in people with osteoarthritis. If you play sports, your sports medicine doctor will recommend a treatment plan so that you can continue your activities comfortably.
Treatment Options For DJD
Your foot and ankle doctor may recommend that you wear shoe orthotics or inserts to relieve pressure on your joints. Shoe orthotics help cushion the shock of playing sports and running, and while they can be purchased at your local pharmacy or grocery store, your foot doctor may recommend custom-made orthotics that are precisely measured to the dimensions of your feet. In addition to orthotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are often prescribed to relieve the joint pain and inflammation of degenerative joint diseases.
For mild to moderate pain, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen work well, however, if you suffer from severe DJD-related pain and inflammation, your foot doctor may prescribe something stronger. Even though anti-inflammatory medications are usually well-tolerated, some people are unable to take them because of gastrointestinal side effects. For them, acetaminophen is an effective pain relief option, however, even though it can decrease discomfort, it is not effective against joint inflammation.
If you experience signs and symptoms of degenerative joint disease, make an appointment with an orthopedic physician. Once they have completed their comprehensive examination, an appropriate treatment option will be recommended so that you can resume your activities of daily living more comfortably.