In addition to natural deterioration caused by daily wear and tear, the inflammation and cramping caused by arthritic feet can make walking and even just standing uncomfortable and painful. Having your feet regularly examined, seeking specialist care, taking preventative measures, and choosing roomy and supportive footwear can help you to alleviate current issues as well as prevent long-term aggravation of your condition.
Specialist Care and Preventative Measures
Anyone with persistent foot trouble knows that even a small issue can cause debilitating discomfort. As you get older it is essential that you check your feet on a regular basis. If need be, have a family member examine your feet for signs of abnormal swelling, skin irritations, or open sores. Even if an issue is not bothering you yet, let your primary care doctor know if you are experiencing any new symptoms. Primary physicians are generally qualified to treat a variety of foot problems and provide basic orthopedic advice, but in certain cases you may be referred to a specialist orthopedic surgeon or dermatologist.
Maintaining good blood circulation can alleviate many issues with arthritis in the feet. For daily aches and pains, try a combination of the following:
- Gentle foot massage
- Warm foot baths
- Easy daily walking
- Keeping feet elevated while sitting or lying down
- Light stretching after prolonged periods of sitting
Activities to Avoid
In addition to daily attentive care, there are certain activities that can easily aggravate arthritic and other joint and ligament issues in the feet:
- Avoid smoking
- Do not expose feet or hands to excessive cold
- Try not to sit for extended periods, particularly with crossed legs
- Keep footwear comfortable and properly-fit
Choosing the Right Shoes
Equipping yourself with good footwear is one of the most helpful things you can do to relieve inflamed joints, cramped toes, and difficulty walking. The following are some helpful tips for selecting comfortable shoes:
- For many people one foot is larger than the other. Make sure to fit shoes to your larger foot.
- Avoid selecting shoes according to the marked size. Instead, choose a size based on fit alone. The ball of your foot should slide easily into the widest section of the shoe.
- Look for shoes that are shaped like your foot, with deep, wide toe boxes that will accommodate easy movement.
- During fitting make sure that there is about 1/4″ of space between your longest toe and the interior tip of the shoe. Keep in mind that for many people the second toe, rather than the big toe, will be the longest.
- Make sure that shoes keep your heel firmly in place. Shoes that ride up and down the heel as you walk can put extra pressure on your toes and the arch of your foot.
Beyond the Basics
While choosing well-fitting shoes can often dramatically improve issues with basic or early-stage symptoms, some cases will require a custom solution. Many retailers offer custom fittings with podiatry-based advice for solving acute issues. In addition to specialized footwear, simple orthotic inserts can provide pinpoint support that can greatly alleviate daily aches, pains, and swelling.
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