Could That Pain in Your Foot Be Arthritis?

Arthritis is inflammation of a joint that can cause stiffness and pain. And it is very common in the small joints of the foot and ankle.

By Patrick J. Meyer, DPM

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You may be familiar with arthritis pain that can plague your fingers, knees, wrists, neck – anywhere there is a joint. That aching pain in your feet that makes it hard for you to walk or exercise may be due to arthritis too.

Arthritis is inflammation of a joint that can cause stiffness and pain. And it is very common in the small joints of the foot and ankle.

Arthritis in the feet

The joints in your feet most often affected by arthritis include the big toe, midfoot, and the ankle. The major types of arthritis that afflict the foot and ankle are:


This “wear and tear” arthritis, which often affects people during or after middle age but can also occur when you are younger. The bones of the joint can rub against each other when the cartilage protecting the bones of the joint wears away. Other risk factors, besides aging, include obesity and family history.

Rheumatoid arthritis

This chronic autoimmune disease that often strikes first in the foot and ankle. The immune system attacks the tissue that covers the joint and causes it to damage the bone and cartilage, resulting in joint deformity and even disability.


A type of arthritis, gout results when uric acid crystals build up in the joints, often in the big toe. Some of the risk factors for gout include high blood pressure, obesity and heavy alcohol intake.

Arthritis due to trauma

An injury to the foot or ankle can cause arthritis, particularly dislocations and fractures that damage the joint surface.

Arthritis Symptoms and Treatments

The arthritic joint will usually be inflamed and painful, although symptoms can vary based on which joint is affected. Here’ what to look for:

  • Pain with motion
  • Tenderness
  • Difficulty walking
  • Joint swelling and warmth

If you suspect that you have arthritis in your feet or ankles, please come visit us. We will do x-rays to examine your bones and order other imaging tests if necessary. Blood tests can help pinpoint the type of arthritis you may have.

There is no cure for arthritis, but there are many things that we can do to relieve your discomfort.

  • Custom-fitted orthotics will help to minimize pressure on the foot and ease pain. Reduce stress on the joint by losing excess weight and switching to lower-impact activities like swimming.
  • Physical therapy exercises can increase flexibility, range of motion and muscle strength.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen and naproxen can reduce inflammation.

Schedule an appointment with us and we will discuss your options. With the right treatment, your arthritis pain can be managed to let you lead an active and healthy life.