Can Waiting to See a Foot Doctor Today about a Bad Ankle Bring Arthritis Tomorrow? YES!

what to do about ankle arthritis, University Foot and Ankle Insitute

Growing up in my house, listening to Dad complain about his latest aches and pains was the family pastime I’d least like to repeat. The pain kept him from doing a lot around the house, but we were a family, so we did what we could to help out. “Go get your father the remote,” he’d say. “I’ve got a case of the Old Man.”

Old Man Syndrome – that’s what he called it. But Old Man Syndrome kept him inside most of the time, and prevented him from spending quality time with us kids. While my aunts and uncles took us out to play tennis or flag football at family gatherings, he’d sit off to the sidelines, griping about his knees and his bad ankle.

But as severe as it was, this self-diagnosed case of Old Man, never, ever did my dad do a thing about it. He believed that his symptoms were just the natural “wear-and-tear” of growing old, and that no medical procedure could make him young again, so what was the use in trying?

Well, I’m here from the future to say that there is hope, but the key to that hope lies in the past: its early detection.

Foot and Ankle Arthritis

Foot and ankle osteoarthritis is a disease that weakens the cartilage of the foot and ankle joints. Healthy cartilage provides lubrication to the joints to facilitate motion. When the cartilage starts wearing thin, you lose the protective cushioning, dialing up the pain, and causing stiffness and swelling.

Ankle Arthritis Treatment, University Foot and Ankle InstituteWith 28 bones and 30 joints in each foot, you can see how debilitating this disease can be. Some of the most common joints affected include the one joining your shin and ankle, the three joints connecting your heel to the inner and outer edges of the foot, and the big toe joint, which is crucial for balance.

The disease is progressive, meaning it only gets worse with time and inattention. Luckily, if you spot those red flags early enough, you could start on a course of treatment that helps you stay pain-free for years, decades, or even longer.

Ignore the little “creaks” and “crooks,” however, and over time, you could unknowingly change your gait to compensate for the pain. When you alter your gait, you throw your body off its natural balance, opening the door for acute pain, severe deformity, and devastation to your quality of life.

Ankle Arthritis Early Detection

You don’t have to wait until you can barely walk anymore to pay a visit to your doctor. If you’re experiencing joint stiffness, swelling, and minor aches and pains, call your foot and ankle care specialist now.

Your doctor will take your complete medical history, examine the way that you walk, and make note of any peculiarities. Advanced imaging, like x-ray, bone scan, or a CT scan in really tricky cases, can help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis.

Fortunately, when foot and ankle arthritis is detected early, you have more options for treatment. Many of those options are minimally-invasive and can help you to avoid surgery in the future.

  • Pain medication. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like aspirin or ibuprofen, can reduce the pain and swelling. They may keep you moving, but they won’t do much to slow the progress of the disease.
  • Steroid injections. These can provide relief from pain and swelling in the long-term, but, like other pain medication, they can’t cure your condition.
  • Stem cell therapy. Regenerative medicine has opened a world of possibility for arthritis patients. An injection of stem cells into the affected areas can promote healing by stimulating the production of natural anti-inflammatory agents. The stem cells can even help to regenerate damaged cartilage and re-grow healthy cellular tissue. The healed tissue secretes hyaluronic acid, which lubricates the joints.

Too many patients go under the knife to treat their foot or ankle arthritis because they’ve waited until they’re at their wits end to visit the doctor. But, the fact is that surgery should only be used as a last resort. The bottom line? If you’re experiencing symptoms of arthritis, don’t put it off any longer. We are just a phone call away.

The physicians at University Foot and Ankle Institute have decades of combined experience effectively treating ankle and foot arthritis. We are leaders in the field of research and treatment of all foot and ankle conditions.

If you would like more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (877) 736-6001 or visit us at www.footankleinstitute.com.

Dr. Bob Baravarian, DPM, FACFAS
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Dr. Bob Baravarian, DPM, FACFAS

Dr. Bob Baravarian is a Board Certified Podiatric Foot and Ankle Specialist. He is currently a member of UCLA Medical Group, Chief of Podiatric Surgery at Santa Monica/UCLA medical center and Orthopedic Hospital and an assistant clinical professor at the UCLA School of Medicine. He also serves as co-director of University Foot and Ankle Institute. He is Editor Emeritus of the international medical journal, Foot and Ankle Specialist.

Dr. Baravarian has been involved in athletics his entire life and played competitive tennis in high school and college. He has an interest in sports medicine, arthritis therapy and trauma/reconstructive surgery of the foot and ankle. He servers as a consultant to the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) tour, multiple running organizations and several shoe manufacturers. He is also fluent in five languages (English, French, Spanish, Farsi and Hebrew),

Podiatrist Dr. Bob Baravarian is available for consultation at the Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks and UCLA Westwood offices.
Dr. Bob Baravarian, DPM, FACFAS
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4 comments

  1. We must not ignore the foot and ankle pain, you don’t have to wait until you can barely walk anymore to pay a visit to your doctor. If you’re experiencing joint stiffness, swelling, and minor aches and pains, call your foot and ankle care specialist now!

  2. Early detection of a health condition, such as arthritis, can greatly improve the prognosis of the condition. Having more treatment options due to early detection gives a person a much greater chance to opt for non-invasive procedures and a chance for a better quality of life. =)

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