Arthritis in the Foot: Understanding the Causes and Treatment Options

Arthritis is a common condition affecting millions of people around the world. It can be painful and debilitating, making it difficult to perform everyday activities. When it comes to arthritis, most people think of joint pain in the hands or knees. 

But did you know that arthritis can also affect your feet? Yes! Arthritis in the foot is real. Understanding its causes and treatment options can help you manage this condition effectively. In this blog post, we will walk you through everything you need to know about arthritis in the feet treatment options so that you can take better care of yourself. So let’s dive right into it!

Arthritis in the Foot

It is a common condition that can cause foot pain and discomfort. There are many different types of arthritis, but osteoarthritis is the most common type affecting the foot. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that occurs when the joint cartilage breaks down and happens for several reasons, including age, injury, or overuse.

There is no cure for arthritis, but there are treatments that can help relieve the symptoms. These include medication, weight loss, exercise, orthotics (foot supports), and surgery. Medications can also help reduce pain and inflammation. 

Additionally, weight loss can take pressure off weight-bearing joints like the ankles and knees, while exercise helps keep the joints flexible and strong. Orthotics can help support weak or deformed joints; surgery may be necessary to repair damaged joints or bones.

Types of Arthritis Affecting the Foot

Several arthritis types can affect the foot, the most common being osteoarthritis, a degenerative condition affecting the joints. Other types of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and psoriatic arthritis. Each type of arthritis has its own set of symptoms and treatment options. 

  • Osteoarthritis

It is the most common type of arthritis in the foot and occurs when the joint cartilage breaks down, causing pain, stiffness, and swelling. The treatment options include weight loss, exercise, pain medication, and joint surgery.

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

It is an autoimmune disease that causes joint inflammation. Symptoms typically include pain, stiffness, swelling, and deformity. Individuals can take certain medications, including anti-inflammatory medications, DMARDs (disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs), immunosuppressants, and joint surgery.

  • Gout

This condition occurs with the uric acid build causing the formation of crystals in the joints. Symptoms typically include severe pain, redness and swelling in the affected joint. Diet changes (to avoid foods high in purines), medications to reduce uric acid levels, and joint surgery are some treatment options suggested to patients by orthopedic specialists.

  • Psoriatic Arthritis

This arthritis occurs in people who have psoriasis. Symptoms typically include pain, stiffness, swelling, and deformity.

Causes of Arthritis in the Foot

There are several foot arthritis causes, which are discussed in detail below:

Osteoarthritis: A common form of arthritis caused by the breakdown of joint cartilage and can affect the feet is osteoarthritis. Symptoms may include stiffness, swelling, pain, and limited movement.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: This autoimmune disorder causes inflammation of the joints in the feet. It can cause redness, warmth, swelling, and foot pain.

Gout: Gout is a form of arthritis caused by high uric acid levels in the blood. It can cause sudden and severe foot pain, swelling, and redness.

Psoriatic Arthritis: This form of arthritis is linked to psoriasis, a skin disorder. It can cause pain and swelling in the feet.

Trauma: Injuries to the feet, such as sprains, fractures, or ligament tears, can lead to arthritis.

Symptoms of Foot Arthritis

These are the symptoms of arthritis in the foot that one experiences after an injury.

Pain: It is the most common symptom of arthritis in the foot. Pain can range from a dull ache to a sharp, burning or stabbing sensation.

Swelling: Swelling in the feet is often caused by arthritis. It can cause the feet to appear red, swollen, and tender to the touch.

Stiffness: This in the feet can make it difficult to move comfortably, especially after sitting or lying down.

Loss of mobility: It can be a sign of arthritis. Arthritis can limit a person’s ability to bend, flex, and lift their feet.

Deformity: Arthritis can cause the joints in the feet to become distorted or bent. It can lead to a visible deformity.

Now let’s discuss the treatment options for arthritis in the foot, which are discussed in detail below.

Treatment Options for Arthritis of the Foot

There are two types of treatment for arthritis in feet: surgical and non-surgical. So, here are the non-surgical treatments for this condition.

  • Non-surgical Treatments for Arthritis of the Foot

Rest: Resting the affected joint can reduce inflammation and pain.

Ice/Heat Therapy: Alternating between hot and cold compresses can reduce inflammation and pain.

Stretching and Strengthening Exercises: Exercises that target the affected joint can improve joint mobility and reduce pain.

Orthotics: Custom orthotics can support the affected area and reduce pain.

Medication: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can reduce inflammation and pain. Corticosteroid injections are also used to reduce inflammation.

Assistive Devices: Walking canes or braces can help reduce the weight-bearing load on the affected joint.

  • Surgical Treatments for Arthritis of the Foot 

Surgical treatments for arthritis in the foot may include joint fusion, joint replacement, osteotomy, and tendon release.

Joint Fusion: In this procedure, the arthritic joint is fused with pins, screws, and metal plates. This procedure is usually reserved for severe cases of arthritis or when other treatments have failed.

Joint Replacement: In this procedure, the arthritic joint is removed and replaced with an artificial joint.

Osteotomy: This procedure involves cutting, reshaping, and realigning the bones in the arthritic joint to reduce the pressure on the joint.

Tendon Release: This procedure involves releasing or cutting the tendons in the arthritic joint to reduce tension and pressure.


Seeking medical attention for arthritis in the foot is important because it can help to diagnose the type of arthritis and recommend treatments that can help reduce symptoms and improve mobility. A doctor can also advise about lifestyle changes that can reduce the risk of further joint damage and help manage the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. 

Medications, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, are also prescribed to help reduce symptoms. Physical therapy and supportive devices, such as orthotic shoe inserts, may also be recommended to help increase mobility and decrease pain.

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