Arthritis isn’t only for old people, and it doesn’t only affect the knees or hips as popular media might have you believe. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease which can affect any joint – including those in your feet.
The feet are highly articulated, especially in the toes. The many joints in your feet (and everywhere else) are cushioned by cartilage located at the ends of the bones, forming a protective barrier between the bones, allowing them to glide over, rather than rub against, each other. Osteoarthritis occurs when this cartilage wears down due to overuse or injury, causing inflammation and pain.
The symptoms for wear and tear of bone tissues are similar in the cases of foot, ankle, and knee osteoarthritis, but treatment may differ depending on the severity of the condition. Symptoms include pain and stiffness at the affected joint, limited motion, swelling and protrusions called bone spurs. Osteoarthritis in the foot occurs mostly in the joint between the big toe and its long bone, termed the first metatarsophalangeal joint. The ankle, the hindfoot, and the midfoot are also commonly affected.
Various factors can contribute to the development of osteoarthritis. These include:
Overall, the causes of foot osteoarthritis are similar to osteoarthritis elsewhere too – but because the feet bear so much of the body’s weight, it is doubly important to pay attention to your foot health.
Heat and cold therapy or oral medication may also be employed, or physiotherapy. The specifics will change depending on the severity of your condition, and we advise seeing a podiatrist to advise you on what you should do about your osteoarthritis.