Arthritis is a serious health concern in Canada, affecting over 4.6 million adults and children each day. Arthritis Awareness Month is for everyone affected by Arthritis – a time to consider what living with chronic pain means and how we can help them.
While Arthritis can affect numerous joints in the body, here at Solescience we often are called upon to help patients with arthritis in the feet, knees and lower limb. Footwear, orthotics and gait mechanics can play a role in the comfort, or discomfort, that a person with arthritis feels. Two of the more common types of arthritis that we see in our patients are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most dominant form of arthritis, affecting 13% of Canadian adults.
The Arthritis Society of Canada defines OA as “the result of the body’s failed attempt to repair damaged joint tissue.” This damage can be caused by traumatic injuries or a host of other factors. Anatomically, the ends of our bones are covered with a protective cartilage. That cartilage wears down over time due to mechanical stress, age and other factors. This results in bone-on-bone movement in the joint that can lead to stiffness, discomfort and pain.
In the foot, the most commonly affected sites for OA are the midfoot joints and the first metatarsophalangeal joint (the ball of your big toe). A review of relevant studies has indicated that custom foot orthoses and orthopaedic shoes can be an effective part of a midfoot OA treatment plan. Currently, there is no known reason for OA occurrence in some midfoot joints, while other joints in the foot have not degenerated.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is another common type of arthritis. The Arthritis Society defines rheumatoid arthritis (RA) as “a systematic inflammatory disease that can affect multiple joints in the body.” While the true origin of RA remains unknown, it is believed to result from a malfunctioning immune system. It has been suggested that the joints of the foot are affected in approximately 16% of patients with early RA and may rise as high as 90% with progression of the disease.
Regardless of the type, arthritis can be debilitating, which is why it’s important to seek care and actively manage it. The number of adults limited by arthritis has increased by an estimated 20% since 2002. Daily activities of 24 million adults are limited by it, such as holding a glass, lifting a bag of groceries, or walking to a car. More than 25% of adults with arthritis report severe joint pain. As a result of pain and discomfort working-age adults report lower employment than those without arthritis. Additionally, adults with arthritis are more than twice as likely as adults without arthritis to report a fall-related injury.
For more detailed information on OA and RA, check out out Injury locator.
Take some time this month to raise awareness and support those in our communities who are living with arthritis. Connect with The Arthritis Society on Facebook, Twitter (@ArthritisSoc) and Instagram (arthritissociety) for updates throughout the month on events and campaigns to raise awareness.