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Surgical Options For Severe Cases Of Foot Arthritis

Arthritis involves inflammation in one or more of your joints as a result of the loss of protective cartilage that helps to keep bones from rubbing against one another. Each foot has 28 bones and more than 30 joints, so your feet can be a prime location for arthritis to develop. Oftentimes symptoms can be effectively managed with conservative treatments, but because treatment will not restore cartilage, some patients eventually get to the point where surgery is their best option. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at some of the surgical options for patients dealing with more significant cases of foot arthritis.

Types Of Foot Arthritis

A number of different factors, including which type of arthritis you are dealing with, will be used to determine which surgical procedure is right for you. There are more than 100 different forms of arthritis, but three of the most common that may end up needing surgical intervention include:

  • Osteoarthritis – Osteoarthritis is the wear-and-tear form of arthritis, and it should come as no surprise that it is most common in older adults. Repetitive stress over the years will take its toll on the body, and if it results in enough cartilage loss, you may begin to experience symptoms of osteoarthritis in your feet.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis – Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system mistakenly starts to attack the synovial covering of your joint, leading to swelling and inflammation. Over time this can lead to problems with joint cartilage and bones in the area. One of the most common areas for rheumatoid arthritis to develop is in your ankles and feet.
  • Posttraumatic Arthritis – The final type of arthritis that can lead to the need for surgery is posttraumatic arthritis. As the name implies, this type of arthritis occurs after significant trauma to the foot and ankle area. If acute trauma damages the cartilage or changes how stress is dispersed on the foot, it can speed up the degenerative process, eventually leading to earlier arthritis onset. Research shows that an injured joint is about seven times as likely to become arthritic compared to an uninjured joint.

Surgery For Foot Arthritis

Your foot specialist may opt to tackle your arthritis issue in a few different ways if nonoperative techniques fail to provide relief. Some of the most common surgical procedures to rectify foot arthritis include:

  • Arthroscopic Debridement – An arthroscopy may be more helpful to patients dealing with the early stages of foot arthritis. During the procedure, the surgeon works to remove loose cartilage, inflamed synovial tissue or problematic bone spurs around the joint area, which makes it easier for the joint to function properly, and it will also help to slow down any future arthritis progression. The procedure can be completed using minimally invasive techniques, which limits trauma on the foot and reduces your likelihood of complications.
  • Fusion – The fusion procedure, known as arthrodesis, helps to prevent painful movement by fusing one or more bones together. This helps to eliminate movement at the joint, which is the source of discomfort. You end up with less pain while sacrificing some mobility in the area. Since the joint is less mobile after surgery, adjacent structures may end up handling more stress after the procedure, so it’s not a great option for patients who are likely to develop arthritis in nearby joints as a result of this change in the displacement of pressure in the foot.
  • Arthroplasty – An arthroplasty is another name for the total ankle replacement procedure. In this operation, your surgeon will remove the damaged bone and cartilage before inserting artificial hardware to mimic the movement of a healthy joint. This is most common for patients with very severe arthritis that is impacting their daily life.

Dr. McDonald regularly helps patients find ways to manage their arthritis and stop future progression, and he’d be happy to help find a treatment plan that’s right for you. For more information, or to talk with him about a different foot or ankle issue, reach out to his clinic today at (860) 244-8889.

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