Osteoarthritis of The Feet: An Overview

Arthritis is a general term used for more than hundred group diseases involving the joints; it typically refers to degeneration or inflammation of the cartilage, bones and other structures which make up the joint itself, and has many possible causes.

Osteoarthritis is the most common, and usually is described as ‘wear and tear’ arthritis of the cartilage lining or attached to the ends of the bones in the joint. It usually progresses over the years due to gradual thinning and cracking of cartilage tissue. Most commonly the three joints that are most affected by osteoarthritis of the feet are the joints involving the ankle and heel bone, the bones of the arch in the middle foot, and the joint of the big toe.

The symptoms are typically aching pain and tenderness in the affected areas, with localized stiffness and sometimes bony swelling around the joints. The pain is better at rest, but will tend to become stiff and feels most uncomfortable with the first few steps before easing up. Usually there is minimal redness, warmth or swelling of the tissues with osteoarthritis of the feet.

Treatment of osteoarthritis of the feet is similar to the treatment of osteoarthritis in other joints. This includes Tylenol, NSAID medications (such as ibuprofen, diclofenac and naproxen). Various creams or ointments may provide temporary comfort as well. For severe discomfort, sometimes the painful joint is injected with cortisone-like medication. Podiatrists may assist with arch support braces called orthotics.

Inflammation in the joints in the feet also may be caused by diseases such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis which cause severe inflammation of the ankle, middle foot or toe joints. It is very important to have these diseases diagnosed correctly and not confuse them with osteoarthritis, as untreated they may permanently damage the joints and cause disability.

The course of treatment of depends upon the type of arthritis, the severity of the pain other conditions of the individual. Specialists in arthritis called rheumatologists are trained to diagnose the type of arthritis which is present. Specialized foot doctors called podiatrists, also specialize in treatment, and if necessary, surgery of the feet.

Suffering from pain in the feet? Evaluate your symptoms by taking the foot pain quiz at PainSpot.com, and have yourself checked for osteoarthritis of the feet and start treatment immediately!

About Doug Roberts MD

Board certified practicing rheumatologist and founder of PainSpot.com
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