What Is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis, or “wear-and-tear” arthritis, is the most common type of arthritis. Also known as degenerative joint disease or age-related arthritis, osteoarthritis is more likely to develop as people age. Inflammation and injury to the joint cause a breaking down of cartilage tissues, resulting in pain, swelling, and deformity. The changes in osteoarthritis usually occur slowly over many years, though there are occasional exceptions.
How Does Osteoarthritis Affect the Foot and Ankle?
Each foot has 28 bones and more than 30 joints. The following are the most common foot joints affected by osteoarthritis:
- The joint where the ankle and shinbone meet
- The three joints of the foot that involve the heel bone, the inner mid-foot bone, and the outer mid-foot bone
- The joint of the big toe and foot bone
What Are the Symptoms of Foot and Ankle Osteoarthritis?
- Tenderness or pain
- Reduced ability to move, walk, or bear weight
- Stiffness in the joint
- Swelling in the joint
How Is Foot and Ankle Osteoarthritis Diagnosed?
- A medical history in which the podiatrist asks questions about when and where the pain began
- Bone scans
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
How Is Foot and Ankle Osteoarthritis Treated?
Foot and ankle osteoarthritis can be treated in many ways. Nonsurgical methods to treat foot and ankle arthritis include:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling in the joints
- Pain relievers
- Orthotics that support the ankle and foot
- Physical therapy
- Custom shoes
Tips on Foot Care With Osteoarthritis
The most essential element of foot care for people with foot and ankle osteoarthritis is to wear shoes that fit properly and feel comfortable. The following are things to look for in finding a comfortable shoe:
Shoes shaped like your foot
- Shoes that have support — for example, no slip-on shoes
- Rubber soles to provide more cushioning
- Proper fit
If you have had painful joints due to osteoarthritis, there is usually something that can be done to reduce the pain so you can maintain an active lifestyle.