What is arthritis?

Arthritis is musculoskeletal disorder, which affects the joints, resulting in pain, stiffness and inflammation of the joints.  Research indicates that 10 million people in the United Kingdom suffer from arthritis and that the condition does not only affect the elderly, it can affect people of all ages.

What causes arthritis?

To gain an understanding of how arthritis affects a joint we need to understand the mechanics and structure of a joint.

A joint is where two bones ends meet and are enabled to move in certain directions. The two bones are held together by ligaments, which act as elastic bands. Ligaments help maintain bone position, while the muscles make the joint move. Bone itself is covered with soft tissue (cartilage), which prevents the bones from rubbing on one another. The joint is enclosed via a capsule and the space within the joint (joint cavity) contains a fluid known as the synovial fluid. Synovial fluid is a key aspect to the joint as it provides the joint and cartilage with its essential nutrients.

Arthritis will affect the joint by damaging the bones and cartilages, this in turn can lead to muscle weakness, therefore leading to join instability. Patient suffering from arthritis may notice gradual change in the shape of the joint, hence leading to deformities.

Arthritis is not a single disease there are many different forms of the condition, however the two most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.


What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and usually develops gradually over time. It can affect all joints in the body but it is commonly seen in the hands, feet, hips, knees and spine. Causes for osteoarthritis are unknown; however research shows that the women are more prone to the condition.

The onset of the condition can occur at any age although it occurs more frequently in elderly people. Osteoarthritis develops when there are changes in the cartilage therefore affecting the mechanics of the joint. Sometimes part of the cartilage can break away from the bone therefore leaving the bone ends exposed.

This can lead to the bone ends rubbing against each other and the surrounding ligaments can become strained and weak. This can cause a lot of pain for the patient and cause changes in the shape of the joint.

How is osteoarthritis treated?

Treatment for the condition can involve either surgical or non-surgical intervention. Non-surgical treatment offered at The Footcare Centre involves:

  • Advice on anti-inflammatory medicaments to reduce swelling in the joints
  • Padding or arch supports
  • Orthoses
  • Exercises
  • Steroid injections into the affected joints
  • Ostenil injection
  • Referral for imaging
  • Surgical consultation with our Consultant Podiatric Surgeon


Rheumatoid arthritis

What is Rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a long term disease which affects the joints and tendons in the body causing inflammation, pain, swelling and stiffness. Rheumatoid arthritis is known as an ‘autoimmune disease’ as it is caused when the body’s immune system, which normally fights infection, starts to attack healthy joints. Research suggests that more than 90% of people with (RA) develop symptoms in the foot and ankle over the course of the disease.

How does Rheumatoid arthritis affect the body?

Usually, inflammation is the body’s way of healing. In rheumatoid arthritis, however, the immune system starts to attack the body instead of defending it.

The inflammation affects:

  • the synovial membrane that lines the joint capsule
  • the tendon sheaths (tubes in which the tendons move)
  • the bursae (sacs of fluid that allow the muscles and tendons to move smoothly over each other)

The joints and inflamed tissues then become stiff, painful and swollen.

How is Rheumatoid Arthritis treated?

We at The Footcare Centre focus our attention on two main areas

  • Joint and skin preservation/protection
  • Pain relief

We achieve this by carry out one or more of the following:

Pressure Plate

Annual checks can be arranged utilising our pressure plate system that identifies the amount of force that is going through your skin and joints. This is used as a precursor to initiating insole/orthoses therapy once pressures reach a certain point.


Correct footwear is key to keeping the rheumatoid foot intact by reducing pressures and keeping the foot stabilised so your podiatrist will advise upon this. Depending on the severity and deformity of your foot DB shoes may be suggested.

If foot deformity is significant we could liaise with your GP for possible referral onto NHS Orthotists for custom shoes.

Simple Insoles/Orthotics

Simple insoles can be used purely as a way of offloading a particular joint/s to divert pressure away from the painful area which in turn can reduce the inflammation and ease walking.

An orthoses is a custom made device that is both functional (correcting the foot mechanics) and accommodative (offloading).

For persons with RA, hard or rigid orthotics generally causes too much pressure on the bone prominences, creating more pain. Therefore we use a particular orthoses that is made of softer yet controlling material.

Steroid Injection

An injection of cortisone into the affected joint can help in the early stages of the disease. The steroid helps to reduce inflammation within the joint. The steroid injection is normally a temporary measure and will not stop the progression of the disease.

If you are suffering from either of these two kinds of arthritis or any other for that matter then do not hesitate in getting in touch to discuss your condition or possible treatment. The Footcare Centre can be reached on 01932 849373 or feel free to book online.

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