Understanding Osteoarthritis

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.

Foot osteoarthritis can be even more problematic than in other parts of the body | Family Podiatry Centre | Best Foot Doctor Podiatrist DPM Clinic Singapore Malaysia
Diagram by Innovative Foot and Ankle

What causes Osteoarthritis?

Various factors can contribute to the development of osteoarthritis. These include:

  • Injury
  • Overuse
  • Anatomical anomalies e.g flat feet, or high arches.
  • Biomechanical problems e.g excessive pronation or supination

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.

Best Osteoarthritis Treatment

 Treatment of foot osteoarthritis often involves:
  • Changing your lifestyle to include more exercise
  • An adequate amount of sleep (to promote healing and rest)
  • Weight loss (to reduce the strain on your legs)

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.

Written by Kardem Kiter
Written by Kardem Kiter

Based in Singapore, Degree in Podiatric Medicine from the University of Johannesburg. Published in The Foot and member of The Golden Key Honour Society.

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