Arthritis & Alternative Options for Pain Management


If you’ve been diagnosed with arthritis, or joint inflammation, you know all too well the pain associated with the disease.

There are several types of arthritis, but the most common form is osteoarthritis or “wear-and- tear” arthritis.

Also referred to as degenerative joint disease, it’s the breakdown of cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones where they meet to form joints. This breakdown causes the bones to rub against each other, causing pain, stiffness, and loss of movement in the joint.

In the foot, osteoarthritis can affect any joint. Symptoms associated with osteoarthritis are tenderness or pain, stiffness in the joint, swelling in the joint and the reduced ability to move, walk, or bear weight. Proper diagnosis, early treatment, and pain management are key factors in preventing joint deformity and disability.

There are several treatment methods for foot and ankle osteoarthritis. 

The simplest medication for arthritis management includes analgesics and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to provide pain relief and reduce inflammation. Analgesic medications are commonly sold over the counter as Tylenol or acetaminophen. Acetaminophen is most effective for mild to moderate pain. NSAIDs have anti-inflammatory, painkilling, and fever-reducing properties.

Some common NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen (e.g. Motrin and Advil), naproxen, and prescription medications such as Celebrex. Experts are divided over the role of acetaminophen versus NSAIDs. Both are commonly prescribed for osteoarthritis and both are equally effective for pain relief. Factors to consider when choosing either analgesics or NSAIDs include cost, risks, and personal preference.

An injection series of hyaluronate can build up cushion in the arthritic joint. Viscosupplementation has commonly been used for knee osteoarthritis, but can just as easily be used in foot and ankle joints. It can provide up to one year of significant pain reduction without the side effects of long term use of oral NSAIDs.

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)
PRP injections have also been effective in providing healing to the damaged cartilage in the affected joints. PRP is a concentration of platelets and growth factors derived from your own blood and injected back into the injured area.

Other conservative treatment options include steroid medications, physical therapy, custom orthotics, and surgery. Consult your podiatrist to determine
the best course of treatment for your foot and ankle osteoarthritis.


By Dr. J Mari Adad, Podiatrist

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