Canadian Certified Pedorthists across the country see people every day that struggle with foot and lower limb pain as a result of their arthritis. Arthritis is a collection of conditions affecting the body’s joints and other tissues. It can cause pain and inflammation in joints, restrict mobility and diminish one’s quality of life. There are more than 100 different forms of arthritis, many of which affect the foot and ankle.
Did you know that 1 in 5 Canadians have arthritis and experience pain every day as a result of their arthritis? Arthritis is more common in women than in men (1 in 4 women, compared to 1 in 6 men). Arthritis remains one of Canada’s most prevalent chronic health condition for which there is no cure. According to the Arthritis Society, by 2040 the number of Canadians living with arthritis is expected to grow by 50%. The Arthritis Society also says that in 40% of Canadians living with arthritis, their pain is severe enough to limit their daily activities. This means that significant foot and lower limb pain and discomfort disrupt the lives of millions of people living with arthritis in Canada.
Common Types of Arthritis
The two most common types of arthritis include Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Foot and lower limb pain is often more prevalent among people with certain types of arthritis, including RA and OA of the knee, hip, ankle and foot. Arthritis can affect people of all ages and becomes more common at older ages. While it is more common at older ages, more than half of Canadians with arthritis are younger than 65.
Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease that is caused by inflammation, breakdown, and loss of the cartilage in joints that occurs as one ages. Osteoarthritis affects over 60% of people in our population and is commonly referred to as degenerative arthritis. The prevalence of OA increases with age. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis affecting millions of Canadians. The joints most commonly affected by OA are the knees, hips, big toes, hands and spine. Osteoarthritis can affect people of all ages. Age is not a cause of OA but the prevalence of OA increases with age.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an inflammatory disease that causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in the joints. It can occur at any age, but tends to develop between the ages of 25 and 60. The joints commonly affected by RA are the small joints of the hands and feet.
Can Orthotics Help with Arthritis?
Pedorthic Treatment for Osteoarthritis:
- Custom made foot orthotics or over the counter arch supports
- Recommendation of appropriate and proper fitting orthopedic footwear
- Off-the-shelf orthopedic footwear with built in rocker sole feature
- Modifications to other footwear such as rocker sole to help reduce pressure to forefoot
Pedorthic Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis:
- Custom made foot orthotics can help reduce plantar pressures under the feet of patients with RA
- Off-the-shelf orthopedic shoes with rocker soles
- Rocker soles modification is beneficial in reducing plantar pressures on the forefoot
- In shoe accommodations can be used to relieve pressure on specific painful metatarsal heads by removing material from the inside of the shoe directly under the affected area
- Footwear may need to be modified with Velcro closures, or alternative closures to help accommodate hands/fingers of patients with RA
Pedorthists can offer alternative or complimentary treatments to medication for people with arthritis to help improve mobility and flexibility in their feet and lower limb joints through the use of custom-made foot orthotics and footwear. Custom-made foot orthotics can improve the alignment of the lower body, reducing abnormal stresses on the body. They can also provide optimal cushioning to improve shock absorption and reduce pressure on any painful areas on the feet. Footwear is an important treatment option for reducing pain and improving mobility and function in people with arthritis. Footwear with a firm forefoot rocker sole is particularly beneficial for people with painful arthritis in the forefoot and toes as it promotes forward motion during gait while limiting toe flexion and pressure on the foot.
If you suffer from symptoms related to any form of arthritis, it is important to educate yourself on the condition so that you can help manage it and live your life to the fullest. Talk to your health care provider and visit your local Pedorthist to discuss treatment options. To find a Canadian Certified Pedorthist in your area visit https://pedorthic.ca/find-a-pedorthist/
By Amanda Bushby, HBKin, Dip. Ped, C. Ped (C)
Delzell, E. (n.d.). Feet Hurt? Slip in Some Relief With Shoe Inserts [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/pain-management/joint-protection/foot-pain-shoe-inserts.php
Irish, Lisa. (2018). Rheumatoid Arthritis. Pedorthic Association of Canada Clinical Practice Guidelines (Second Edition).
Loranger, L. (2014, September 1). 7 Common Arthritis Myths Busted [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.physiotherapyalberta.ca/public_and_patients/the_you_movement_blog/7_common_arthritis_myths_busted
McColman, M.; Archer, G; Tso, D; Bajic, T; Pagtakhan, E. (2018). Osteoarthritis – Foot and Ankle. Pedorthic Association of Canada Clinical Practice Guidelines (Second Edition).
Arthritis Society. Arthritis Facts and Figures. Retrieved from http://arthritis.ca/about-arthritis/what-is-arthritis/arthritis-facts and figures