Early Signs Of Arthritis In Feet - SeniorsHealthClub.com (2023)

Arthritis In The Heel And Ankle

Psoriatic Arthritis Signs and Symptoms | Johns Hopkins Medicine

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Several types of arthritis, including OA, RA, AS, and PsA, can affect the heels and the ankles.

Symptoms of arthritis in the heel might include:

  • Stiffness upon awakening in the morning
  • Recurring pain in the heel
  • Swelling of the heel
  • Limited movement
  • Skin changes, including rashes and growths

Inflammation at the heel from RA, AS, or PsA can lead to conditions that cause heel pain. This might include Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, or retrocalcaneal bursitis, a condition in which the bursa becomes inflamed, causing pain and swelling.

The ankle is not affected by arthritis as often as other joints, but it can be a source of severe pain and instability when it is affected. Additional symptoms of ankle arthritis include swelling and stiffness of the ankle and problems with mobility. Ankle arthritis will eventually affect gaitthe way a person walks.

Foot And Ankle Arthritis Types

Arthritis is a general term for a group of more than 100 diseases. It can involve inflammation and swelling in and around your joints and the nearby soft tissue.

With many kinds of arthritis, your joints wear down over time. You slowly lose the smooth “cushioning” cartilage inside them. As a result, your bones rub and wear against each other. Soft tissues in your joints also may begin to wear down. After some time, the joint might not work or move the way it should.

Several types of arthritis can cause pain in your feet and ankles, including:

  • Osteoarthritis, or “wear-and-tear” arthritis, is the most common type. Doctors also call it degenerative joint disease or age-related arthritis. Osteoarthritis usually causes changes over many years. The foot and ankle joints where itâs most common are:
  • The three joints involving your heel bone, your inner mid-foot bone, and your outer mid-foot bone
  • The joint of your big toe and foot bone
  • The joint where your ankle and shinbone meet
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most serious forms. Itâs an autoimmune disease in which your immune system attacks the joint. It usually happens in the same joint on both sides of your body.
  • Gout happens when you have a buildup of uric acid from your diet. Itâs most common in your big toe because itâs the farthest body part from your heart.
  • Psoriatic arthritis can happen in one or more joints, including your ankles and the ends of your toes. It may also cause toe swelling called dactylitis.
  • Stretch Your Achilles Tendons To Increase Flexibility

    You probably dont think about getting your feet in shape the way you do your stomach or your thighs. But exercising your feet can help increase your flexibility and mobility, important when you have arthritis in your feet. Good exercises involve stretching your Achilles tendon as well as the tendons in the balls of your feet and toes. A good exercise for arthritic feet is simply to wiggle your toes. Frisch has his patients use the TV as an exercise aid.

    When a commercial comes on, use that time to wiggle, he says. Just dont overdo: Stretching is good to help joint mobility, but dont do it to the point where youre hurting yourself.

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    Types Of Arthritis That Most Often Affect The Feet

    • Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in the body. It is caused by wear and tear on the joints, as the protective cartilage has worn away over time or due to overuse such as can happen when playing a sport, which is why young athletes can also develop arthritis in a joint.
    • Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that your body mistakenly attacks your own cells. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks the synovium, which is a special lining in the joints this is very different from the cartilage. However, RA can also attack other areas of your body and organs, such as your eyes, skin, heart, lungs, and circulatory system. The most apparent symptom that differentiates it from other types of arthritis is that it can cause deformity of the toes and fingers.
    • Gout is a type of arthritis that is caused by uric acid crystals accumulating in the joint, often at the base of the big toe. It tends to cause pain and swelling in the big toe, but gout can be thwarted relatively quickly by drinking plenty of water. The water will dilute the uric acid crystals.

    The type of arthritis in the feet must be accurately diagnosed by a skilled physician in order to receive lasting relief that works for you.

    What Is The Treatment For Foot And Ankle Arthritis

    Early Signs Of Arthritis In Feet - SeniorsHealthClub.com (1)

    A doctor will prescribe treatment for foot and ankle arthritis depending on the stage of the condition and how the symptoms manifest. If your arthritis in the foot and/or ankle is minimal, you may find comfort in home remedies and exercises. However, if you have advanced arthritis, a doctor may recommend a surgical treatment. See below for several popular treatment options.

    Home Remedies and ExercisesIf you suspect you have arthritis in the foot and/or ankle, you should limit impact activities, which include running and jumping. Activity modification is an essential part of ankle arthritis treatment. Similarly, people who are overweight may benefit from weight loss or control losing weight decreases the pressure placed on the foot and ankle joints and can alleviate some tension.

    There are also several strengthening exercises and stretches that are beneficial to people with mild arthritis. Mild exercise can ease arthritis pain and stiffness, but be careful to not overdo it.

    Medications and Non-Surgical TreatmentsIn mild foot and ankle arthritis, shoe modifications can alleviate pain and stiffness. Cushioned inserts can help alleviate symptoms, and a rocker bottom on a shoe sole can help support the joint. To prevent excessive motion in the affected part of the body, a brace may also be recommended to help hold the ankle joint in position. These braces are known as ankle-foot-orthoses, or AFOs, and are available at most pharmacies.

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    Invest In Proper Footwear

    When you have arthritis, your shoes are either going to help you or hurt you, says Jackie Sutera, DPM, a podiatric surgeon in New York City. Proper fit is a key factor in how foot-friendly shoes are. Besides having to accommodate an arthritic joint that may have stiffness, swelling, and contracture, shoes need to fit the hammertoes and bunions that often happen along with arthritis. Comfort brands like Vionic, Ecco, Clarks, and Mephisto are designed to be stylish and comfortable. They include arch support, heel cups, thick soles, cushioning, and shock absorption.

    People with bad osteoarthritis in the feet may particularly benefit from shoes with rocker soles, which have a thicker-than-normal sole with a curved heel. A shoe with this type of sole reduces pressure under the big toe joint by 12 percent in people with OA, research shows. In a recent study the pain score in those who wore rocker sole shoes improved by 22 points.

    Changes In The Shape Of Your Foot

    Flatfoot deformity a progressive flattening of the arch of your foot can occur in rheumatoid arthritis, when tendons, ligaments, and bones shift out of their normal positions, causing pain and discomfort along inside or outside of your ankle. If RA damages ligaments that support the top of your foot, your arch may also collapse, which can cause the front of the foot to point outward, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Shape changes in the front of the foot and toes can create pressure sites that then develop calluses, or areas of hard thickened skin. All of these changes in the shape of the foot can make it very difficult to comfortably wear shoes.

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    What Are The Early Warning Signs Foot Arthritis

    Like any health condition, arthritis is best managed if it is caught at an early stage when treatment techniques offer a greater chance at symptom mitigation or relief. However, since arthritis isnt always obvious to spot in its infancy, we thought it would be helpful so discuss some of the early warning signs of arthritis on our blog. Below, we share what signs and symptoms you should look for that may suggest youre dealing with the early stages of foot arthritis.

    Arthritis In The Hindfoot

    Inflammatory arthritis of the feet

    Arthritis in the hindfoot affects the three joints below the ankle and above the heel: the subtalar joint, the talonavicular joint, and the calcaneocuboid joint. Together, these joints allow the foot to have side-to-side movement, as well as other motions, and aid in bearing the weight of the body. Arthritis in these joints can cause pain and swelling in the feet and ankles.

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    Most Common Types Of Arthritis In The Feet

    There are several types of arthritis that can affect the feet and ankles. If youre experiencing symptoms that seem as though they could be arthritis, youre not alone. But you want to make sure youre getting the right treatment and the proper diagnosis. Whether you have symptoms that indicate top-of-foot arthritis or other areas, its important to find out the real root cause of your pain. You can get your arthritis pain treated more successfully if you know exactly what type of arthritis youre dealing with.

    Types Of Foot And Ankle Arthritis

    There are many types of arthritis, but arthritis in the foot and ankle is usually one of three types: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or post-traumatic arthritis.

    Osteoarthritis, often called wear and tear arthritis, develops most often in people over age 50. As cartilage gets worn down with use over time, it can result in pain and stiffness in the joint. Osteoarthritis may develop in an isolated joint or areafor example, in one foot and not the other.

    Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, which means that the body mistakenly attacks its own tissues. This immune response targets soft tissue in the joints called the synovium, resulting in warmth, redness, swelling, stiffness, and pain of the foot and ankle. Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis generally develops symmetrically, meaning both feet are affected at the same time.

    Post-traumatic arthritis develops in the foot or ankle as a result of injury, even one that occurred long ago. For example, a sprain, fracture, or dislocation in the foot or ankle may damage cartilage, leading to premature deterioration of the joint. Symptoms may appear within a few years, or it may take decades for joint damage to cause pain or limit function.

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    Wear Supportive Shoes For Foot Pain Relief

    Comfortable, supportive shoes are key for arthritis in the feet. Shoes should be wide enough so they dont press on any bunions or calluses. Skip the high heels if you have big toe joint pain as they put more pressure on the balls of your feet.

    Arch support is essential to stabilize joints that are moving more than they should, which can happen with arthritis, explains Frisch. The toning athletic shoes that are popular these days can be a good choice for foot health.

    “Their rocker-bottom soles do some of the work that the foot doesnt want to do, he says.

    Looking After Your Feet

    Early Signs Of Arthritis In Feet - SeniorsHealthClub.com (2)

    Its important to take care of your feet if you have osteoarthritis in your feet or ankles. A good footcare plan can help reduce the likelihood of you developing other problems that could make your pain worse, such as corns, calluses, or ingrown toenails.

    There are a number of things you can do yourself, including:

    • washing your feet every day in warm, soapy water dont soak your feet unless you have problems with hard skin or ingrown toenails
    • drying your feet well, including in between your toes
    • moisturising your feet all over, except for between your toes
    • cutting your toenails regularly, cutting straight across the nail doing it at an angle or down the sides could lead to ingrown toenails.

    If you have corns or calluses, try:

    • soaking your feet in warm water to soften the skin
    • using a pumice stone or foot file to remove hard skin
    • moisturising your feet to keep the skin soft.

    Its a good idea to get your feet checked regularly by your GP or a podiatrist. This is important if you have any problems with your feet that dont get better after a few weeks.


    Podiatrists , also known as chiropodists, are specialists in treating foot problems. You can either be referred to an NHS podiatrist by your GP or, in some areas, you can refer yourself.

    You could also pay to see one privately. Either way, you should make sure theyre registered with the Health and Care Professionals Council .


    When getting new shoes, consider the following tips:

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    Types Of Foot & Ankle Arthritis

    Arthritis, a condition characterized by damage and stiffness of the joints, may affect any of the more than 30 joints in the foot and ankle. The joints that connect the bones of the foot and ankle provide the body with the balance and stability required to stand, walk, and pursue other physical activities.

    As arthritis advances, it may damage cartilage, the smooth material lining the ends of bones in the joints. Cartilage allows the foot and ankle bones to move against each other without friction. If cartilage erodes, the bones may begin to rub directly against each other, causing further joint damage and a deep, aching pain, particularly during movement. Bones that rub together may also cause bony growths to develop, which may interfere with joint motion and worsen pain. Over time, joint damage may also lead to stiffness and deformity in the foot and ankle and make walking and other movements difficult.

    When To See A Doctor

    RA can become worse the longer its left untreated. Its important to visit your doctor if youve been living with some of these symptoms for more than a few weeks, especially if youve been noticing joint stiffness that takes a while to loosen up in the mornings.

    Even if its not RA, persistent fatigue and a general sense of illness can be the precursor to many inflammation-related issues, so the sooner youre seen by a physician, the better.

    Theres no single test that can reveal an RA diagnosis. Instead, youll most likely be diagnosed through blood tests, joint and organ examinations, and X-ray or ultrasound images.

    If a positive rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis is found, youll probably be referred to a rheumatologist, a doctor whos had extra training around the treatment of diseases that affect the muscles, bones, joints, ligaments, and tendons.

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    When To Contact A Doctor

    Getting medical attention quickly may help preserve joint function. It may also reduce the risk of the development of other serious problems.

    People should watch for symptoms such as joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. It is also advisable to make an appointment with a doctor if joint symptoms linger 3 days or more or if several episodes of joint symptoms occur within a month.

    When seeking medical attention, an individual may wish to start with a primary care doctor. However, they may need to see a rheumatologist, who is a specialist in diseases that affect the joints. A primary care doctor can refer a person to a rheumatologist.

    Get A Soothing Foot Massage

    What are the symptoms of foot and ankle arthritis?

    Ahh … who doesn’t love a relaxing massage? The soothing effects of massage aren’t just great for your back or shoulders. A foot massage may sometimes provide foot pain relief, Frisch says. Knead the balls of your feet as well as your toes, starting at the top and working your way down to the base. You can do it yourself or ask your partner to help you.

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    Recognizing The Signs Of Arthritis In Your Feet

    When you think about arthritis, you may think about it occurring in one of your major joints, such as your hips or knees. However, any joint in your body can develop arthritis. And your feet contain a lot of joints, with 28 bones and 30 joints in the average human foot.

    Like any other joints, the ones in your feet and ankles can develop pain and swelling from arthritis. The good news is there are treatment options. In this blog, Kerry E. Berg, DPM, of explains some of the symptoms of arthritis of the feet and ankles and what you can do if you have the condition.

    Arthritis In The Toes

    Ocskaymark / Getty Images

    Arthritis in the toes is often the result of wear and tear of the cartilage in the toe joints or inflammation of the toe joints. The big toe is most often affected by arthritis, but other toes can also be involved.

    Common symptoms of arthritis of the toes may include pain that can take hours or days to resolve and swelling and inflammation in and around the toe joints. Both RA and PsA can cause significant pain and swelling. However, with PsA, the toes become so swollen that they can resemble sausages .

    Additional symptoms of arthritis in the toes might include:

    • Restricted range of motion due to swelling or cartilage damage
    • Development of bone spurs, which can further restrict movement
    • Difficulty and pain with bending the toes
    • A toe that might bend permanently downward
    • Pain that worsens with weight-bearing activityrunning, walking, climbing stairs, etc.
    • A bump formation or sore
    • Pitted, separated, thickened toenails
    • Curling of toeshammertoe or claw toe

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    Types Of Arthritis That Can Occur In The Foot Are:

  • Osteoarthritis This comes from wear and tear on the joints of the feet and ankle, and can contribute to many arthritis in foot and ankle symptoms. Weight-bearing joints like the ankle are most commonly affected.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis This is caused by an autoimmune disorder, and generally affects small joints. It can also harm other areas of the body. Generally, both feet are affected.
  • Gout Uric acid accumulation is the main cause of gout, which is a more complex form of arthritis. Severe pain is a big part of this condition, which typically affects the big toe.
  • Psoriatic arthritis This affects the toes, and causes inflammation in the ligaments and tendons. It causes the toes to swell like sausages, leading to a lot of discomfort.
  • No matter the type of arthritis thats affecting your feet, there are treatment options available. The first step is to diagnose the type of arthritis symptoms youre experiencing in your foot, and find the cause. Then, treatment can begin. The kinds of symptoms youre having may give some important clues about the type of arthritis youre experiencing.


    What does arthritis look like in feet? ›

    Symptoms of arthritis in your feet

    Tenderness when you touch affected joints. Swelling or redness of affected joints. Difficulty standing or putting pressure on your feet. Pain or swelling even when at rest.

    Where does arthritis start in the foot? ›

    It typically affects the first metatarsophalangeal joint, which is located at the base of the big toe and connects the toe to the rest of the foot. Every time you take a step, this joint bears your body weight; arthritis in this joint can increasingly limit your ability to walk without pain.

    How do you test for arthritis in feet? ›

    X-ray. To confirm a diagnosis of arthritis and determine the extent of the condition, doctors may recommend an X-ray of your foot and ankle. X-rays create pictures of the bones of the foot and ankle that doctors analyze for any visible changes in the spacing of the joints.

    Is walking good for arthritis in the feet? ›

    Walking is recommended for people with arthritis as it's low impact, helps to keep the joints flexible, helps bone health and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. If you do experience pain or you're very stiff afterwards try doing a bit less, factor in more rest and check in with your GP, if you need to.

    What is the best remedy for arthritis in your feet? ›

    Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs

    Our doctors often recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce swelling and relieve pain in foot and ankle joints affected by arthritis. NSAIDs are taken by mouth, and many, including ibuprofen and naproxen, are available over the counter.

    What is the most common arthritis in feet? ›

    Several types of arthritis can cause pain in your feet and ankles, including: Osteoarthritis, or "wear-and-tear" arthritis, is the most common type. Doctors also call it degenerative joint disease or age-related arthritis. Osteoarthritis usually causes changes over many years.

    How do you slow arthritis in the foot? ›

    One proven way to help ease symptoms of arthritis in the feet is with exercise, both general full-body exercises (such as walking) as well as specific stretches and moves that target the feet.

    Can you reverse arthritis in your feet? ›

    You can't reverse your arthritis, but certain treatments can help slow the progression of the disease and help you manage your condition. Getting the right kind of treatment can ease your pain and help you maintain or even improve function, which will enable you to carry out daily activities.

    Have I got arthritis in my foot? ›

    Some people with osteoarthritis can hear grating or crunching noises when moving their feet and ankles. You may also feel unsteady on your feet. You may have an achy feeling in your feet, especially if you've been particularly active or worn high heels. Some people also get pain in their feet at night.

    What kind of arthritis attacks the feet? ›

    Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that attacks multiple joints throughout the body. It most often starts in the small joints of the hands and feet, and usually affects the same joints on both sides of the body.

    What cream is good for arthritis in the feet? ›

    • Best Arthritis Creams Of 2023.
    • Aspercreme Pain Relief Cream.
    • Bengay Ultra Strength Cream.
    • IcyHot Pain Relieving Balm.
    • Osteo Bi-Flex Joint Health Pain Relieving Cream.
    • Sportscreme Deep Penetrating Rub.
    • Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief Cream.
    • IcyHot Power Gel.
    Jan 9, 2023

    What causes arthritis flare ups in feet? ›

    The most common triggers of an OA flare are overdoing an activity or trauma to the joint. Other triggers can include bone spurs, stress, repetitive motions, cold weather, a change in barometric pressure, an infection or weight gain.

    Is massage good for arthritis in feet? ›

    Yes, research shows that massage can help relieve symptoms of arthritis in the foot. It does this by improving flexibility in the foot and ankle joints. It also relieves joint pain by increasing circulation to the area. Gentle massage can also help you to stretch tight muscles around the joint.

    What are the best shoes for arthritis in feet? ›

    The Best Shoe Brands for Arthritis

    Clark's, Vionic, Orthofeet, and Klogs are some of the brands both recommended by members the CreakyJoints community and approved by the foot experts we talked to. Mephisto, Drew, and Ecco are other good options.

    What is the best anti-inflammatory for foot pain? ›

    Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen can help relieve pain and reduce swelling, providing relief for a few hours at a time and making them an excellent foot inflammation treatment.

    Can a podiatrist treat foot arthritis? ›

    A podiatrist isn't enough for patients with arthritis

    “Podiatrists can treat all types of foot pain, but if your doctor suspects an inflammatory arthritic condition such as rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis, it is very important to see a rheumatologist in addition to your foot doctor,” Dr.

    Does soaking feet help arthritis? ›

    Arthritis sufferers may be feeling especially uncomfortable, as studies have shown a relationship between arthritis pain and low barometric pressure, cold temperatures, and precipitation. One way to relieve the discomfort of stiff, aching joints is a warm soak. It's an age-old remedy that often makes you feel better.

    Can I put Voltaren on my feet? ›

    Voltaren Emulgel helps with the relief of localized traumatic inflammation and pain such as foot and ankle pain. Foot and ankle pain is very common, probably because of all the use our feet get.

    What age do you get arthritis in your feet? ›

    Foot Arthritis Starts When You are Younger

    Around half of the adults over 60 experience arthritis foot pain. However, the wearing down of the joints in the feet start around 40 years of age. Typically this wearing down of the cartilage in the joints of the feet is due to overuse.

    How can I prevent arthritis in my feet from getting worse? ›

    If you are experiencing foot arthritis symptoms, avoid unsupportive shoes, such as high-heels, and aim for shoes that have arch support and provide increased stability. Stretch achilles tendons- Frequent stretching can indirectly contribute to foot arthritis prevention.

    How do you live with arthritis in your feet? ›

    1. Wear proper footwear. Proper fit is a determining factor in how foot-friendly shoes are when you're living with arthritis. ...
    2. Take pain meds. ...
    3. Get up and get moving. ...
    4. Apply heat or ice. ...
    5. Consider orthotics. ...
    6. Pamper your feet.

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