Australian tennis player Lleyton Hewitt recently had surgery on one of his big toes suffering from chronic arthritis.  The toe had misshapen due to reconstruction and had been reported to cause him pain.  Arthritis, particularly osteoarthritis, is a very common condition today, although not always as severe as Lleyton Hewitt’s case.

Osteoarthritis is a condition caused by mechanical stress or wear and tear on the joints of the body.  In osteoarthritis, which is also known as degenerative joint disease, there is a degeneration of the cartilage involved in the joint and subchondral bone.   There is no associated systemic illness with osteoarthritis, and it does not affect the joints symmetrically meaning only one of the big toes may be affected.  Symptoms of osteoarthritis include decreased range of motion of the affected joint, pain, and swelling around the joint.   There may also be crepitus due to the destruction of cartilage and potentially the resulting misshapen joint space.  The condition often also presents with stiffness that is worse in the morning and relieved with rest.   Often these symptoms will be weather related.   With more severe osteoarthritis nodes may present in the joints of the fingers.  Some of the risk factors for osteoarthritis include age since more wear and tear is placed on the body with time, female gender, and obesity due to the increased pressure.

Treatment for osteoarthritis may begin conservatively consisting of weight loss and exercise.  Medications such as anti-inflammatories like NSAIDs or acetaminophen may also be used to control the pain.  Steroid injections in the affected joint may also help alleviate symptoms.  Orthotics may be custom made to ensure comfort and ease the pressure on the affected joint.  With severe osteoarthritis as in the case of Hewitt, surgery may even be an option where the joint may be replaced or fused or even parts of the bone removed. 

If you are suffering from osteoarthritis, the physicians at Atlantic Foot and Ankle Associates take a conservative approach for treatment.   Make an appointment at one of our four offices conveniently located in Palm Coast, Orange City, Daytona Beach, and Port Orange, Florida.  

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