Picture two bones - any two bones that meet together in the human body at those places we call joints. At the end of each bone lies a thin layer of soft tissue called cartilage. And in between the two bones is a space - the joint cavity - that’s filled with synovial fluid. Think of this fluid as lubrication. When there’s plenty of synovial fluid and a nice layer of cartilage, bones glide together without pain; joints move smoothly and easily.
Your joints become stiff and painful when something goes awry with your cartilage, your synovial fluid, or the joint cavity itself. In honor of Bone & Joint Action Week, October 12-20, 2017, let’s take a look at four major reasons why the joints in your feet and ankles might ache:
- You’re too heavy.
Extra pounds put extra stress on your joints and can wear down cartilage before its time.
- You’re not moving enough.
Exercise is actually good for your joints. When you move around, so does your synovial fluid, keeping things moist and moving without difficulty. Exercise also keeps bones strong and strengthens the muscles that surround and support your joints.
- You’re moving too much!
When you overdo exercise or do too much too soon, you can inflame your joints in the form of bursitis (when cushions in the joint cavity called bursa become inflamed) or tendonitis (inflammation of a tendon).
- You’ve got arthritis.
Too much exercise - or simply too many years on the planet! - can cause osteoarthritis, typified by loss of cartilage as well as a decrease in the production of synovial fluid. Rheumatoid arthritis means your immune system is attacking the lining of your joints. Gout is a form of arthritis that causes sudden pain and swelling in your big toe. Finally, joint stiffness and swelling may actually be a form of psoriasis called psoriatic arthritis.
There’s hope for painful joints
Fortunately, Dr. Samantha Boyd, Dr. Hal Ornstein, Dr. Joseph Saka, and Dr. Katy Statler, the podiatrists at Affiliated Foot & Ankle Center in Howell, NJ, are always on call when joint pain and stiffness affects your lower limbs. If you’ve got joint tenderness and pain, sudden swelling, severe pain, or a toe joint that looks deformed, don’t wait. Make an appointment with the foot experts of Monmouth County for prompt care and treatment. Call us at (732) 905-1110.