Degenerative arthritis is a condition that slowly wears away cartilage on joints (the link where bones meet and move). At first you may notice that the affected joint seems stiff, it may even ache, and as the joint lining (cartilage) breaks down, the bones rub against each other, causing pain and swelling. Over time, bone spurs (small pieces of rough or splintered bone) develop, and the joint’s movement becomes more limited. But this doesn’t have to cause pain. The effects of foot arthritis can be reduced, with appropriate orthotic use.
Which Joints Are Affected?
Your feet pound the pavement every day. They support and propel your body as you move through life. Such constant use takes a toll. Aging, the wear and tear of daily use, and injury – these are the common causes of arthritis. Many people eventually develop some arthritis in their feet.
The Big Toe Joint
When arthritis affects your big toe, your foot hurts when it pushes off the ground. Arthritis often appears in the big toe joint along with a bunion (a bony bump at the side of the joint).
When arthritis affects the rear or mid-foot joints, you feel pain when you put weight on your foot. Arthritis may affect the joint where the ankle and foot meet. It may also affect other joints nearby.
To learn the cause of your joint problem we ask about your medical history and we examine your feet for skin changes and swelling. The range of motion in any joint affected by arthritis will be tested as well.
If required we can arrange an imaging test to check the condition of a joint. X-rays show damage to bone and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can show damage to the joint lining.
Specialised orthotic devices, footwear modifications and/or specialised footwear can help reduce the compressive force through these painful, problematic joints and allow you to continue with daily activities and some degree of sport. Surgery is a very last resort. Everything works best when it is in the right place, this is particularly important if there is joint wear.