Arthritis is inevitable. Kind of like car rust or wearing away of your car brakes.
Arthritis is when a joint becomes inflamed and typically feels stiff and painful. The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis also known as degenerative joint disease. This is the process of the joint going through normal wear and tear resulting in torn cartilage and bone breakdown causing pain, movement limitation and swelling.
Arthritis can happen in any joint of the body, with the severity and the age of onset varying from person-to-person. The most common joint issues patients come to see me for are in the neck, back, hips and knees.
My Story of Arthritis In My Toes
About three years ago I noticed that, after a run, both of my big toes were sore. The pain was short lived and didn’t interfere with any other activities, so I limited my running and acknowledged I must be developing some arthritis. Over the past three years, I noticed random episodes of left toe impingement. In other words, my toe would feel locked up and unable to flex up. These symptoms didn’t inhibit my life too much, so I just lived with them up until a few months ago.
Last November, I painted two bedrooms in my house. Afterward, I developed almost constant toe pain and was unable to stand or walk greater than a half hour without having pain and impingement for the rest of the day. I used KT tape and ice to deal with the pain.
I finally went to the podiatrist.
The news wasn’t surprising. I had arthritis. What was surprising is that it was bad enough to warrant surgery right away. The podiatrist also told me that my first metatarsal (foot bone) is longer than it should be, which caused the early onset of arthritis.
After two months, the pain settled back down to random bouts. However, because I understood how important the big toe is for walking and to prevent my toe from ultimately fusing, I opted to have surgery immediately instead of waiting for my toe to inevitably get worse. Once healed from the surgery, I’ll be able to return to most activities without toe pain.
So, in mid February I had my surgery. A MTO (metatarsal osteopathy) with a pin placed in the metatarsal (foot bone). They cleaned out my left big toe joint from torn cartilage and degenerated bone in order to create space in my big toe joint.
Like most patients, I was surprised at the level of pain that persisted. For three days when standing or walking in my walking boot, the pain was bad enough to take a strong pain reducer, Norco. By day four, however, the pain had shifted dramatically and I was able to shift to using just Tylenol.
I’ll be in a boot for 3 weeks and then can begin rehab. I will keep you posted on my progress.
What can physical therapy do for arthritis?
At The Manual Touch, we use various hands-on techniques to help reduce inflammation, improve joint movement and decrease pain. We teach exercises to improve our patient’s overall mobility, balance and strength in order to reduce irritation of the arthritic joint and slow down the wear-and-tear process. Other pain management techniques might include kinesiotaping and ice. Most importantly, we provide education about the process of arthritis, how to prevent it from getting worse, and how to move mindfully through the day.
Here are some things you can do to ease Arthritis discomfort:
- Keep moving such as walking, treadmill, stationary bike or pool aerobics as long as it doesn’t increase your pain.
- Ice the swollen joint or painful area
- Strengthening exercises. Although an overall body strengthening program is ideal, you will need specific exercises to strengthen the muscles around the inflamed joint and for the joints above and below the inflamed joint. For example for knee arthritis you will need hip, leg, core and feet exercises.
- Mobility exercises to improve the movement of your joints
- Balance exercises to prevent falls (Download our Balance Guide)
- Decrease sitting time – sitting the majority of your days will lead to more arthritis than running
- Healthy diet/low inflammatory diet – seek out a nutritionist to find the right anti-inflammatory diet for you
- Supplements such as turmeric, tart cherry juice or capsules, CBD with or without THC, and glucosamine are natural anti-inflammatories that some people have found relief with **be sure to discuss with your doctor and/or nutritionist***
- Get enough quality sleep to allow your body time to heal and rest
- Medical interventions such as steroid shots, stem cell or prp (platelet rich plasma) injections, pain or anti-inflammatory meds
Sometimes, like in my case, surgery is needed when all pain management tools have been exhausted. My friend, Holly, also opted for total hip replacement when all other options ran out so she can enjoy her life again.
At some point I will have to have my right big toe done as well, probably sooner than later. Until then, I am looking forward to the day when I can walk freely as long as I want without any pain.
Are you or someone you know suffering from Arthritis? Reach out to us – we can help!