When considering arthritis, it is common for people to talk of the more major joints in your body, such as your knees or hips, as well as the places you may notice it more, like in your hands. Most people aren’t aware that any joint in your body can become arthritic and painful. 

Like any other joint in your body, your foot and ankle are also susceptible to the swelling and pain created by arthritis. Read on to learn more about arthritis and how it can be prevented. 

What is arthritis?

The term arthritis is actually an encompassing name for more than 100 different diseases and essentially means joint inflammation, causing chronic or acute inflammation in the joint and surrounding soft tissues. Pain, swelling, stiffness and tenderness are all common symptoms that can be felt from arthritis. 

When suffering from arthritis, the smooth cushioning in the cartilage is lost through progressive deterioration, causing the bones to rub against each other and causing pain and inflammation. 

The Risk Factors of Arthritis

Anyone can develop arthritis, but one of the most common causes of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which is most commonly associated with ageing. As mentioned previously, arthritis causes the soft cartilage of the joints to break down. Cartilage is the soft tissue between the joints that prevents bones of your joints from rubbing together, and it helps to absorb impact from activities such as walking, running or jumping.  

Some people are, unfortunately, naturally more likely to develop arthritis in their feet; for example, those who suffer from flat feet or high arches place excess strain on some of the joints of their feet, which, if left untreated, can cause arthritic symptoms. The foot is a complex structure and has 28 bones and more than 30 joints; some of the most common areas in which you can face problems if you have arthritis in your feet are:

  • Where your shinbone and ankle meet
  • The three primary joints in your foot (the heel bone, inner mid-foot bone and outer mid-foot bone)
  • The joint of your big toe

Symptoms of Arthritis in Your Feet

Like having arthritis in any other part of your body, arthritis in your feet can be painful and cause you some difficulties when trying to go about your day-to-day activities. Some of the most common symptoms of arthritis in your feet include:

  • Difficulty and pain when moving your ankles and feet
  • Tenderness when touching the joints of your feet that have been affected
  • Difficulty and pain when putting weight on your feet through standing or other activities
  • Swelling or redness of your affected joints
  • Pain, swelling and discomfort even when resting your feet

While these are some of the more common symptoms of arthritis, they are not fully indicative of arthritis. The best way to confirm it is definitely arthritis you are suffering from is to have a full examination of your feet and lower legs. Your podiatrist may complete a series of tests or examinations to ensure they are giving you the best diagnosis and, in turn, the best form of treatment. 

Treating Arthritis In Your Feet

When treating arthritis in your feet, there are several more conventional and non-invasive methods you can use; these include:

  • Custom-made and fitted orthotics
  • Choosing the right footwear that provides enough support to your feet and ankle 
  • Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen 
  • Physical therapy, stretching and exercising
  • Aiding the movement of your foot with a brace 
  • Aiding your movement, such as walking with a cane or walking stick
  • Steroid injections 
  • Weight management to remove excess stress on your feet 

There are some other forms of treatment for arthritis in your feet which are more invasive and typically include surgery; these are:

Fusion surgery – This form of surgery, sometimes also known as arthrodesis, is completed by moulding the two bones together, most often using metal rods or pins. Once healed, the bones remain fused together. 

Joint replacement surgery – This involves replacing the struggling joint with an artificial like-for-like implant; however, this is only used in rare cases. 

Arthroscopic surgery – This form of surgery is typically used in the earlier stages of arthritis. It essentially surgically implants a tiny camera (an arthroscope) into the joint, allowing the surgeon to assess the area. The surgeon can then clean the joint area, removing bony spurs or debris that may be present in the tissue. 

If you feel you may be suffering from arthritis in your feet, contact us at our London podiatry office today, we will be happy to provide you with a full assessment and accurate diagnosis. We can then work together to formulate the best treatment option for you.