Foot and Ankle Arthritis

What is Osteoarthritis?

As you age, your chance for developing osteoarthritis increases. Osteoarthritis, also called degenerative joint disease, happens when the cartilage between your joints wears away and causes the bones to grind against one another.  When this happens, the cushioning pad for the bones is gone, and as a result, moving your body can be painful. This kind of arthritis is different from the type caused by inflammation of the joints, which can occur regardless of age.

Ankle and foot osteoarthritis is when the cartilage that lubricates the joints in the foot wears away. Foot osteoarthritis is a very common condition because the foot has many small bones (28 total!) that after many years of being on your feet it is very likely for some of these joints to lose cartilage mass over time.

Symptoms of Foot Arthritis 

Chicago Podiatrist

The majority of people with chronologically aching arthritic feet are over 60 years old. Though arthritis can occur as early as the teenage years, most people are affected as they age, and their feet go experience more wear and tear.

Everyone experiences different symptoms, and to varying degrees. The most common signs of foot and ankle osteoarthritis are:

  • Swelling in the foot joint
  • Stiffness in the joint
  • Tenderness
  • Limited mobility
  • Pain when putting weight on the foot


Diagnosis and Common Treatment Options

Being diagnosed is fairly easy. Your doctor may begin by asking you for your medical history to see if any similar conditions run in your family. After a careful physical exam, he or she may then choose to do x-rays, or in other instances where x-ray images are not conclusive, an MRI or CT scan may be performed.

One you are diagnosed, and depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor may sketch a treatment plan that can include one or more of the following options:

Non-medicinal Options:

  • Foot arch support
  • Orthotic shoe inserts
  • Walking cane
  • Customized shoes
  • Physical therapy
  • Foot brace

Medicinal Alternatives:

  • Pain relief medication
  • Steroid injections
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs


Tips for Feet with Osteoarthritis

Although foot and ankle osteoarthritis is not reversible (or any type of arthritis for that matter), it can be contained with proper care and attention. One of the most important tips is to ensure you are wearing shoes that properly fit the shape of your foot. A suitably fitted shoe will support your ankle, which can prevent from the foot condition from worsening with time. Stretching your feet and exercising regularly also can help keep your feet strong and less susceptible to effects of arthritis.

Here are some pointers to keep in mind when it comes to making sure your shoes are not making your foot arthritis worse:

  • Choose shoes with adequate support on the inside and outside
  • Avoid heels or slip-on shoes.
  • Wear shoes that are flexible and can move with your foot naturally.


When to Seek Medical Treatment

Once pain, stiffness, or tenderness get so overbearing that it interferes with your everyday activities, you should start to think about seeking medical treatment. The further you delay getting your foot checked out, the worse the condition may end up being. Sometimes, the hardest part is showing up at the doctor’s office!

A note from the doctors at Chicago DPM:

Chicago Podiatrist We are excited to announce our latest treatment option for big toe joint arthritis. A painful condition, big toe joint arthritis can become a distant memory with Cartiva. Read more.

As always, if your feet are hurting for any reason, make sure to call our Evanston office – Evanston Podiatric Surgeons at 847-475-9030, or Downtown Chicago office – Mag Mile Foot and Ankle Institute at 312-236-3507.  Our care options for foot injuries and pain include some of the most cutting-edge procedures and technologies available!

To learn more about Chicago DPM, visit our About Us page or Contact Us Today!