In this article, guest writer Alicia Gordon offers practical ways to ease pain and stiffness when arthritis strikes in your feet.
Arthritis is a common health issue among older adults, with around 30% of those aged 65 and older experiencing arthritis in some form, especially in the joints in their legs. A study from the American Geriatrics Society recently found that arthritis can increase seniors’ risk of social isolation as well. Additionally, this condition is linked to other health issues such as anxiety, depression, and physical inactivity.
If you suffer from arthritis, you may find it harder to walk, move around, and enjoy physical activities. According to the CDC, there are more than 100 different types of arthritis — many of which affect ankles and feet. When the joints wear down over time, the cushioning provided by the cartilage erodes, causing the bones to rub and wear against each other. While specific symptoms vary, they often include joint pain and stiffness.
Here are some tips on how you can manage arthritis in your feet for a better quality of life.
Take special care of your feet
Being on your feet all day can put extra pressure on your feet and ankles, triggering arthritis pain. This is why supportive footwear is important to protect the muscles in your feet. Wearing shoes with arch supports, thick soles, heel cups, cushioning, and shock absorption can help a lot. For relief of swelling and soreness, elevate your ankles by propping them on top of pillows for at least 15 minutes per day. You can also use a topical pain reliever like Arnicare FootCare to rub into sore arches and feet.* As a plant-powered homeopathic medicine made from Arnica montana, it’s ideal for those concerned about drug interactions. There’s also an Arnicare arthritis formula, offered in tablets that melt in your mouth.
Avoid foods that can make arthritis worse
Weight is an important factor in managing arthritis, as the feet contain weight-bearing joints. A few extra pounds can add force and pressure to your feet, so losing weight is key to minimizing stress on your feet and ankles. You should also avoid certain foods that contribute to weight gain, joint inflammation, or both. These include red meat, dairy products, and alcohol. Instead, eat more fatty fish, lean meats, green leafy vegetables, berries, and citrus fruit. Mushrooms are also a great source of nutrients, and they can even fight off inflammation.
Move your feet around
Foot and ankle movements are important in maintaining their health. The benefits of physical activity for arthritis patients are clear. Moderate exercise helps maintain joint function, reduce fatigue, relieve stress, and burn calories; it’s crucial to stay as active as possible. Try to incorporate simple stretches recommended by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons into your fitness routine, preferably paired with an exercise you enjoy. Some options include step up stretching, swimming, and resistance band workouts. For a low-impact physical practice that builds muscle strength, flexibility, and mental wellness, you can also try tai chi. Some of the health articles on SymptomFind note that although most of tai chi is performed while standing, it can be modified and performed when you're seated, too.
Talk to a healthcare practitioner
If the pain or discomfort you feel from the arthritis gets too much you should talk to a healthcare professional. It’s advisable to visit a rheumatologist as they specialize in joints and ligaments. They can help integrate arthritis management into your health plan and make recommendations that address your concerns. Talking to a health care professional can also teach you about the best practices for senior living.
Of course, even after following all of these tips you still have to protect your feet after exercising or increased movement. Simple things like wearing comfortable slippers and elevating your feet from time to time can help. With time and patience, you can minimize your pain, plus increase your flexibility and strength.
*Claims based on traditional homeopathic practice, not accepted medical evidence. Not FDA evaluated.