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The are many bones and joints in the foot, and the ends of the bones in many of these joints are covered in articular cartilage. This cartilage provides a surface that helps the bones move smoothly over one another during movement. Over time, through injury or repetitive use, this cartilage can gradually be worn away which leads to a loss of joint space between the bones. This can in turn lead to structural changes within the bone, such as the formation of osteophytes or “bone spurs”. This chronic condition is known as osteoarthritis or OA for short.
The most common joints affected by OA in the foot is at the base of the big toe, and while less common, OA can also occur in the ankle complex, both in the talocrural and subtalar joint. As the condition develops, you might begin to experience pain and stiffness in the joint that is worse in the morning or after a period of inactivity. You might also begin to see localized swelling in the joint, and possibly joint deformation such as the big toe migrating laterally. Through disuse and structural changes to the joint, we can also see other structures such as tendons and muscles around the joint begin to suffer functionally. Often seeing a local family physician or a physiotherapist in conjunction with a registered dietitian and athletic therapist is a great option to take control of this condition. Smart Food Now and exercise is also optominal for overall health.
A physiotherapist can help in managing OA in several ways. They might recommend a brace or splint to provide external support to the joint and help prevent further deformation. These splints are often worn only during the night or during flareups. They will work with you on gaining mobility and range of motion through gentle stretching and movement exercises. Incorporating strengthening exercises for the muscles around the joint should help in maintaining proper function and reducing pain.
A common misconception with arthritis is that exercise can further damage the joint. Exercise and movement are often some of the best things you can do for joint health, and a physiotherapist can work with you to ensure you are moving and loading the joint in a manner that is safe and beneficial for the health of your joints.
If you’re feeling pain or noticing stiffness around this area, then it would be beneficial to book an appointment with your physiotherapist to confirm a diagnosis and begin a rehabilitation program to maintain or restore function and help reduce pain.
Presenter: Mr. Bradley Vance, Kinesiologist, ,
Local Practitioners: Kinesiologist
For those at risk for osteoporosis, nutrition is extremely important for bone health.There are three micronutrients that you’d want to pay attention to: calcium, magnesium and vitamin D. Calcium is a mineral that is found largely in dairy products such as fluid milk, yogurt and cheese, and you can also find it in a variety of vegetables such as broccoli. Magnesium is also found in dairy products, and in things like nuts and leafy green vegetables like kale or spinach.
Vitamin D is probably the most important micronutrient of the three when it comes to bone health. Recent recommendations suggest that you take at least 1,000 international units or IUs per day for adequate blood levels to maintain healthy bones.