Foot and ankle arthritis can keep you from leading an active lifestyle, and even threaten your mobility as it relates to independence. Fortunately, there are treatments to ease pain and improve joint function.
Joint pain and stiffness are characteristic of arthritis, and it can affect any of the over 30 joints in the foot and ankle. The joints that connect the bones of the foot and ankle give the body the balance and stability to stand and move.
If you’re living with arthritis, it’s important to recognize the signs of arthritis in your feet and seek care from a foot and ankle specialist. At Inspire Health Clinics, board-certified foot and ankle surgeon Dr. David Matthew Graff and his team help patients with foot and ankle arthritis effectively manage their symptoms and continue to lead as active a life as possible.
Arthritis damages joints
Arthritis is a progressive condition. Over time, it damages the cartilage lining the ends of bones in the joints. Cartilage enables the foot and ankle bones to move smoothly against one other. If the cartilage deteriorates, the bones begin to rub directly against each other, resulting in further joint damage and pain, especially during movement.
When bones rub together, bony growths (spurs) may form, interfering with joint motion and exacerbating pain. Joint injury can cause stiffness and deformity in the foot and ankle, making walking and other activities difficult.
Parts of the foot arthritis most commonly affects
The following forms of arthritis commonly affect the foot
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Ankylosing spondylitis
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common forms. How arthritis affects your foot depends on the type of arthritis and the part of your foot that is affected. In general, there are four areas of the foot that arthritis most commonly strikes.
Arthritis of the big toe
Big toe arthritis is very common. It typically affects the first metatarsophalangeal joint, which is located at the base of the big toe and connects the toe to the remainder of the foot. There’s often swelling around the big toe and pain when bending the toe. The toe joint bears your body weight every time you take a step. When you have arthritis in the big toe, you may experience pain when walking.
The tarsometatarsal joints, located about halfway between the ankle and the toes, are slightly closer to the ankle. These joints connect the long bones of the foot arch to the bony section of the foot in front of the ankle. Midfoot arthritis can affect one or more of these joints, producing pain in the middle of the foot when walking or climbing stairs.
Arthritis of the hindfoot
The three joints below the ankle and above the heel that are affected by hindfoot arthritis are the subtalar joint, the talonavicular joint, and the calcaneocuboid joint. These joints work together to allow the foot to move side to side and to bear body weight. Arthritis in these joints can cause swelling on the side of the foot and around the ankle area, loss of foot flexibility, and a loss of the natural foot arch.
The ankle joint attaches the foot to the leg and allows it to flex and point. Ankle arthritis can reduce range of motion, cause ankle weakness, ankle pain, and ankle instability, which increases the risk for falls. Ankle arthritis can make it difficult to walk, stand, and be active.
Medications, steroid injections, and lifestyle changes are used to treat foot and ankle arthritis. When non-surgical treatments fail to adequately manage arthritis, Dr. Graff may discuss various surgical approaches.
Many people suffer with ankle arthritis for some time before seeking help from a foot and ankle specialist. Because arthritis is progressive, it’s vital to seek treatment as early as possible. Dr. Graff can help minimize the impact of foot and ankle arthritis on your quality of life.
If you’re struggling with chronic foot and ankle problems, scheduling a visit with a qualified medical professional is the first step in the path to getting relief. Call our South Jordan, Utah office, or book online to schedule your visit with us at Inspire Health Clinics.