Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States. The term arthritis is used broadly to refer to over 100 different types of diseases that specifically affect our joints. Although there is no cure for arthritis, there are many options currently available for treatment.
There are 28 bones in the foot and 30 joints. Each is a possible site for arthritis. Arthritis in the foot can not only cause pain, stiffness, and make walking difficult but it can lead to more severe balance difficulties. There are 3 major types of arthritis in the foot:
Osteoarthritis is a disease of the cartilage degeneration. It is the most common form of arthritis in the foot and is influenced by age, heredity and weight gain.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where, for some reason, the body attacks itself and its joints are inflamed and deformed.
Posttraumatic arthritis is very common in the foot area. Fractures and dislocations are the most common injuries that precipitate this type of arthritis. An injured joints us about 6-8 times more likely to develop arthritis. It is also known that certain hormones may be secreted post injury that can stimulate the destruction of your cartilage.
The most common sites of arthritis in the foot are:
- The ankle, where the shinbone rests on the foot.
- The joints of the hind foot.
- The great toe area.
Symptoms of arthritis of the foot are similar to other areas of the body. Pain, stiffness, and swelling while walking are the most common.
Diagnosis is made by a history and physical exam and x-ray studies.
Treatment of foot arthritis usually includes anti-inflaming agents, shoe inserts, braces or a cane, weight loss, and physical therapy.