Arthritis in the foot

Arthritis is a joint disease where the quality of the cartilage deteriorates. This causes pain in the joints, especially under pressure. In your feet, there are 33 joints - any of these can be affected by arthritis. You can alleviate the discomfort of arthritis by wearing shoes with good stability and cushioning combined with an orthopedic insoles.

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What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a joint disease where the quality of the protective cartilage in the joints deteriorates, resulting in pain and reduced mobility in the affected joints. Foot arthritis is most commonly experienced in the big toe (often referred to as hallux rigidus), but you can also get arthritis in the ankle and other joints in the foot – though it’s less common.

Symptoms and Underlying Causes of Arthritis in the Foot

Arthritis is when the cartilage in your joints breaks down and deteriorates in quality in one or more joints. At least two bones in your joints meet, protected by cartilage to prevent their hard ends from rubbing against each other. Cartilage cushions the bones softens them and allows smooth movements. When cartilage deteriorates, becomes uneven, thins out, or even disappears entirely, the bones start rubbing against each other, and sometimes, they can get stuck. The joints can become inflamed, swollen, and filled with fluid. This can result in limited ability to perform your daily activities.

In foot arthritis, it’s most common for it to occur in connection with trauma. For example, arthritis in the big toe often occurs from kicking, bumping, or dropping something on the toe, and arthritis in the midfoot and ankle is often caused by a sprain or fracture. The risk of foot arthritis also increases with flat feet and high arches. Symptoms of arthritis often develop gradually and worsen over time. Arthritis often occurs in flare-ups where you have periods of significant discomfort followed by periods completely symptom-free.

Common symptoms of foot arthritis include:

  • Stiffness and decreased mobility in the joints
  • Joint pain occurs when you move but can also arise at rest
  • Pain with weight-bearing
  • Difficulty walking and running

Treatment of Arthritis in the Foot

Arthritis in the feet cannot be fully cured. However, there are many things you can do to reduce pain:

  • Footwear: If arthritis affects the front part of the foot, shoes with a rolling sole can relieve pressure on the foot and thereby reduce pain
  • Orthopedic insoles: If you have flat feet or high arches, orthopedic inserts can help reduce pressure on the feet.
  • Physical activity: Exercising and staying active often have a pain-relieving effect.
  • Surgery: To adjust the bone spurs’ position or replace the damaged joint with a new artificial joint.
  • Lifestyle changes: such as weight loss, can help reduce the burden on your feet.