Arthritic Conditions: Arthritis of the Foot

Updated 7/7/2020
Arthritis of the Toes and Feet - University Foot and Ankle Institute

The term arthritis denotes joint inflammation and soft tissue swelling. Arthritis is a far-reaching description of 100 different diseases and divided into three categories:

 

Types of Arthritis:

Osteoarthritis is known as degenerative arthritis and affects many people when they reach middle age. Symptoms include swelling, limited range of motion, and joint pain.

 

RA is when a person’s own immune system attacks and destroys cartilage. Symptoms of arthritis may abate for a time, but RA eventually causes joints to deform and shift out of place. 

 

Post-traumatic arthritis develops after an injury to the foot or ankle joint. Pain and inflammation may develop many years after the joint damage.

Because there are so many joints in the feet, there are various types of arthritis of the foot so proper diagnosis is very important.

 

Diagnosing Foot Arthritis

Your doctor will begin your visit by taking a medical history of foot pain and the painful joints. The doctor will inquire if there has ever been any injury to the joints of the foot, if the pain is in both feet, and want to examine your footwear.

 

In addition to gait analysis, x-rays will tell your doctor if there have been changes to the joints. He may also take a CT scan or MRI to define areas of arthritis.

 

Arthritis Treatment Options

In most cases, a period of relief may be available with conservative care. Nonsurgical treatment options include:

 

  • Orthotics, shoe inserts and bracing to provide arch support, comfort and extra cushioning
  • Ibuprofen (NSAIDs) to reduce swelling and relieve arthritis pain
  • Physical therapy
  • Weight reduction
  • Steroid injections into the joint

 

The arthritic process will continue to get worse making it difficult to perform usual daily activities. In most cases, surgical correction is required.

 

Surgical Arthritis Treatments

Surgical correction of foot arthritis is aimed at relief of pain and continued use of the foot at its optimal level. There are three types of surgical treatment:

 

Arthroscopic debridement

This minimally invasive surgery removes loose, excess cartilage, and inflamed tissue from the joint.

 

 Arthroplasty

This procedure replaces the joint with an artificial implant.

 

Arthrodesis

Also, known as joint fusion, this procedure fuses the bones of the joint to make one continuous bone.

 

How Arthritis Affects the Foot

 

Midfoot Arthritis / Lisfranc Arthritis

Arthritic Foot - University Foot and Ankle Institute

Lisfranc (midfoot) arthritis is due to two differing problems. The first is due to trauma or sprain of the midfoot which results in partial dislocation and arthritis over time. The second cause is degeneration or loss of cartilage due to abnormal wear and tear, looseness, or chronic abnormal motion.

 

Surgical correction of midfoot arthritis is aimed at relief of pain and continued use of the foot at its optimal level. In cases of arthritic spurs, the spurs can be removed with little to no downtime, with rapid recovery.

 

In cases of severe arthritis, a fusion of the arthritic joint(s) is required to relieve pain. A limited amount of motion loss may be noted, but most patients relate a high level of pain relief and improved function after surgical fusions of the midfoot.

 

Forefoot Arthritis

Rheumatoid forefoot issues are often a very debilitating and painful condition for patients with arthritis. The pain is essentially due to early inflammation, cartilage damage, arthritis, and dislocation of the toes at the metatarsal heads.

 

If rheumatoid forefoot deformity is caught early, correction of the toe position and realignment procedures can save the joints and decrease the risk of dislocation and arthritis. If left untreated, rheumatoid forefoot arthritis surgery is usually treated with removal of the metatarsal heads and realignment of the toes.

 

Hindfoot Rheumatoid Arthritis

Arthritis of the hindfoot results in a painful loss of cartilage and usually deformity of the joints. If the arthritis is caught early, bracing and orthotic therapy can be used to delay the arthritis process and limit the progression of ankle joint deformity.

 

If severe arthritis is noted, a fusion of the arthritic joints can eliminate pain and resolve a majority of the ankle deformity. 

 

Total ankle joint replacement or ankle arthroplasty replaces the joint surfaces of the arthritic ankle with an artificial implant. Advances in biomedical technology have developed multiple types of implants to address individual patients’ needs. Read more about ankle replacement surgery here.

 

Toe Arthritis

Arthritis in the big toe joint is known as hallux limitus or hallux rigidus. Learn more about big toe arthritis here.

 

University Foot and Ankle Institute, The Best Choice for Arthritic Foot and Ankle Care

 

University Foot and Ankle Institute podiatrists, surgeons, and physical therapists are the very best rheumatoid foot and ankle arthritis specialists in California with a national reputation and a decades-long history of research and development in the disease. We pride ourselves on cutting-edge research and personal care.

  • Foot and Ankle Surgeon and Director of University Foot and Ankle Institute
    Dr Bob Baravarian, University Foot and Ankle Institute

    Dr. Bob Baravarian is a Board Certified Podiatric Foot and Ankle Specialist. He is currently a member of UCLA Medical Group, Chief of Podiatric Surgery at Santa Monica/UCLA medical center and Orthopedic Hospital and an assistant clinical professor at the UCLA School of Medicine. He also serves as Director of University Foot and Ankle Institute.

     

    Dr. Baravarian has been involved in athletics his entire life and played competitive tennis in high school and college. He has an interest in sports medicine, arthritis therapy and trauma/reconstructive surgery of the foot and ankle. He is also fluent in five languages (English, French, Spanish, Farsi and Hebrew),

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