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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Self-care for foot & ankle arthritis

foot arthritisThere are many things you can do yourself to decrease the pain, the effect arthritis has on your life, and the speed at which it gets worse.

Keep physically active

Keeping active is one of the best things you can do to manage your osteoarthritis. It can help to reduce your pain, keep you moving, restore your flexibility and protect your joints against further damage.

Some people worry that they will wear out their joint if they use it too much. But we know that regular physical activity can help to strengthen your joints, muscles and bones.

Some people also worry that pain during physical activity means they're causing harm but it doesn't. Some pain is OK and will not cause harm. But if you have a lot of pain during physical activity or feel a sharp pain, you should stop and ask your GP or physiotherapist for advice. You should also get advice if you have pain that is worse than usual the morning after your physical activity.

It’s important to find an activity you enjoy as you’re more likely to stick with it. Excellent activities for osteoarthritis include:

If you aren't sure which activities are right for you, talk to your GP, practice nurse or other health professional about Support for getting active. There are several initiatives to help adults get physically active. Some of them are free or subsidised but you may have to pay for others.

For more information see Arthritis and exercise on the Arthritis New Zealand website.

Your shoes are important

The shoes you wear can play a major part in the amount of pain you feel and how much movement you have. To decrease the pain and make sure you have as much movement as possible:

Eat well and aim for a healthy weight

There is no special diet to help with foot and ankle arthritis but eating well can help your overall health.

Being at a healthy weight will reduce the strain on your feet and ankles.

Learn how to manage pain

Arthritis is a changeable condition. Some days you may have no pain and other days you will. Having pain can be the hardest part of having arthritis. Healthy lifestyle changes such as, eating well, staying active, having a good sleep routine and managing stress can be very helpful. Self-care for chronic pain has more information about how you can help manage your pain.

Retrain Pain is a free course that teaches you techniques for overcoming chronic (persistent) pain. Through a series of one-minute videos, it uses a science-based approach to reducing symptoms.

Speak to an arthritis educator

Arthritis New Zealand has trained arthritis educators who can answer your questions and provide information about ways to live well with osteoarthritis. To contact an educator phone 0800-663-463 or fill in this online self-referral form. Arthritis New Zealand also provides a range of other services and resources.

On the next page: Treating foot & ankle arthritis

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed July 2021.

Page reference: 343063

Review key: HIOST-35589