FootCareDirect Footcare Resource


Artho means joint and itis means inflammation.


What Causes Arthritis?

There are approximately 38 causes of arthritis and most of these conditions affect the human foot. The most common of these conditions is osteoarthritis. This is the simple wearing and tearing away of the cartilage of the joints. Age, excessive weight, ill-fitting shoes and trauma (injury) are the basic causes of osteoarthritis. Fortunately, this condition is very treatable.

What are the signs and symptoms of arthritis?

Like most medical conditions, the signs and symptoms vary from one person to the next and depends on a number of variables. Common symptoms include:

  • Pain associated with motion
  • Tenderness to the touch
  • Redness, warmth, and swelling
  • Pain that increases after resting, sitting, or sleeping
  • Decreased mobility of the joint

What kinds of arthritis are there?

There are over 100 kinds of arthritis. The most common arthritis is osteoarthritis, which is caused by wear and tear on their joints. Osteoarthritis generally begins at or after middle age, but can affect younger people when they play sports or do repetitive work. If you are overweight and/or have a family history of osteoarthritis, you are at higher risk of developing the condition yourself.

Gout, which is also classified under arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the two most crippling kinds of arthritis. Autoimmune rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that impact joints throughout your entire body. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body attacks the protective synovium surrounding the joint, causing damage to the synovium, cartilage, bone, and even tendons and ligaments.

Posttraumatic arthritis develops after the joint has been injured, sometimes even when the injury received prompt and appropriate medical attention. As a matter of fact, a joint that was fractured or dislocated in the past is as much as 7 times more likely to develop arthritis than a joint that wasn't.

How is arthritis diagnosed?

The first step in the diagnosis of arthritis is a good complete history. The second step is an x-ray evaluation to view the bone structure of the foot. In more advanced cases of arthritis an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or CT scan (computerized axial tomography) are extremely helpful. In more complicated cases of arthritis, blood tests are used to differentiate between one arthritis type and the next.

How is arthritis treated?

In most cases, simple aches and pains of the feet are usually biomechanical, in that the bone structure of the feet are not being supported as well as they should be. Therefore the first line of defense for painful feet is to get a well-supported shoe. The second line of defense is a custom made orthotic. It's important to understand underlying causes to effectively treat arthritis in the lower extremities. Some treatment options include:

  • Lifestyle modifications like losing weight, replacing high impact activities with low-impact activities, and avoiding activities that trigger flare-ups
  • Physical therapy, including stretches and exercises that help improve range of motion and strengthen joints
  • Massagers and foot baths to relieve pain
  • Custom orthotics to minimize pressure and pain and improve gait
  • Assistive devices such as a cane
  • Medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and pain relievers
  • Steroid injections to reduce inflammation and pain
  • Surgical treatment to clean up the joint, fuse bones together, or replace joints altogether