The arthritic patient, or injured athlete (especially the young), must be kept mobile and as pain free as possible. The fastest growing group is the baby boom generation, already age 65 and over. Arthritis affects about 43 million people today and the numbers will be higher as time goes on.
People who suspect or develop an arthritic condition should seek medical care because early diagnosis and new treatment can often be very helpful in the control of the disease. The best treatment is however, preventive measures.
With the onset of arthritis, the normal functions of the joints are impaired. The main objective in the podiatric care of the patient is to try to preserve joint motion to keep the individual mobile. This is done doing rehabilitation therapy that will increase the joint range of motion, decrease swelling and break down muscle spasm.
When adequate inflammation has decreased, it is then advisable to approach the use of biomechanics, which has particular value in treating problems that are directly or indirectly caused by abnormal motion and mechanics of the feet. After that, move into an exercise program to increase blood supply to the area.
A program of walking, biking or jogging would develop strong leg muscles which are the key to peripheral circulation regulation. One might think that the major effect of exercise is on the heart and lungs. Actually, however, exercise conditions the muscles. Our leg muscles (with minimal change in the heart capability) can do as much as 300% more work. This is why people with greatly damaged hearts can walk for miles or run long distances.
Keep your arthritic feet moving for alleviation and control of this degenerative disease.
Dr. Robert F. Weiss is a podiatrist specializing in foot and ankle surgery, Weiss is a veteran of 35 Marathons and has a practice in Darien, affiliated with Stamford Hospital and member of Stamford Health Medical Group-Foot & Ankle Institute, and resides in Westport.