Feet and Arthritis
While our feet are relatively small parts of our body when compared to the rest of it, foot health is an important part of our overall health. Notably, feet are our basic form of transportation, getting us to where we need to go. Even with cars, we have to first walk to the car, use our feet to operate the pedals, and then walk to our destination once the car is parked.
When our feet suffer dysfunction, it can lead directly and indirectly to numerous physical, psychological, and social concerns. Being active and getting regular exercise is a preventative measure against many chronic diseases such as diabetes, and heart disease. It can snowball from something small, because when your feet hurt, it makes exercising more difficult, makes you less inclined to get out of the house and do things. This can trigger other concerns, which can develop into bigger problems.
While the human body is typically broken down into different parts and systems, digestive system, circulatory system, etc, as a form of medical shorthand, the fact is that all the pieces of our body are interconnected and work with each other to keep our bodies functioning. A problem with one part of our body can cause issues in another part. This is especially true of our skeletal systems. Our feet, when walking on the ground, transmit force through the ankles, which is transferred up the knees, hips, all the way up the spine, and through the top of the head. Any misalignment or aberration of any part of that system, especially where it starts at the feet, will radiate throughout the entire body.
Just like any of the other joints of the body, the feet are commonly affected by arthritis as we age. Arthritis is the swelling and tenderness of one or more joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which tend to worsen as we age. Arthritis is, despite common belief, not a disease of wear and tear. The factors that contribute to arthritis are genetics, family history, occupational or repetitive stress, and overall injury.
For arthritis, the best thing to do is preventative measures. Walking and staying active are the primary preventative tool, but equally important is protecting your feet. This means protecting against injury with things such as wearing foot supports like braces or insoles, and making sure to wear the proper footwear when playing in sports, outdoor activities like hiking or gardening, or doing repetitive work. Anti-fatigue mats in areas where you’ll be standing or walking for significant amounts of time will help reduce the strain on your feet. Replacing or repairing footwear when it’s worn down is important too. You want your muscles and tendons in shape to allow you to maintain a full range of movement. The way in which your footwear wears down can be illustrative as well. The soles should wear evenly, as your weight should be distributed evenly over soles. Having wear on mostly the inside or outside edge of your soles could be a sign of misalignment.