The literal meaning of arthritis is “pain in a joint.” It is caused by inflammation and is the leading cause of disability in the United States. There are more than 40 million Americans who have some sort of arthritis, and the condition is not limited to just the feet.
Every joint in the body is susceptible to arthritis, including your hands, elbows, shoulders and knees. When arthritis develops in the feet, it could make simple movements like walking incredibly uncomfortable.
Arthritis causes inflammation in the cartilage and tissue that line the joints, often leading to the accumulation of fluid in the joints, as well. There are more than 33 joints in each foot. This means that your feet are at an especially high risk of developing arthritis in comparison to other areas of your body.
Arthritis can develop at any joint in the foot, but there are three spots where it is most common:
- The junction of the ankle and shinbone
- The joints connecting the heel, mid-foot and outer mid-foot bones
- The connecting joint of the big toe and foot bone
What Causes Arthritis?
The leading risk factors for foot arthritis are age, injury and heredity. If one of your parents had arthritis, and one of their parents had arthritis, there is a pretty large chance that you’ll develop the condition too.
Other causes of foot arthritis include:
- Bacterial and viral infections
- Chronic inflammatory conditions include colitis
- Prolonged drug use
- Excessive wear and tear from poor footwear
Arthritis is a progressive condition. That means it isn’t going to appear overnight. Arthritis pain will set in gradually as the tissue and cartilage around your joints gradually deteriorate.
Finding Relief from Foot Arthritis
Chronic and worsening pain, tenderness and swelling in your feet may indicate that you have arthritis. As the condition deteriorates you’ll find it more difficult to move and as time moves on you’ll continue to experience pain.
The earlier you seek treatment for foot arthritis the more options you’ll have in reducing the pain. Some conservative treatment methods include:
- Wearing custom made orthotic footwear
- Using shoe inserts or arch supports
- Losing weight
- Physical therapy
- Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications
The more severe arthritis becomes, the more limited treatment options are. In severe situations, surgery may be necessary.