Arthritis of the Foot and Ankle

People are often told to live with arthritis, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop living.

Arthritis occurs when one or more joints are inflamed. A person who has arthritis suffers pain and stiffness in any joint in the body and having arthritis is common in the foot and ankle. If left untreated, the nagging pain can become excruciating to the point it affects your mobility and limits your quality of life.

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What is arthritis?

Arthritis is a broad term for conditions that destroy the workings of the joint. There are more than 100 forms of arthritis that may occur in joints including ankle and foot.

Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and posttraumatic arthritis are the three major types of arthritis affect the foot and the ankle,


Also known as degenerative or “wear-and-tear” arthritis and is common among middle-aged people. Osteoarthritis is the result of the cartilage in the joint gradually tearing away as people age. As the cartilage wears off, it can cause inflammation, swelling, and pain in the joint.

Arthritis of the Foot and Ankle

Rheumatoid arthritis

This type of arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the immune cells attack the synovium surrounding the joint, causing swelling and irritation. The synovium will then invade and damage the cartilage, bone, tendons, and ligaments, and cause deformity and disability in the joint.

Posttraumatic arthritis

A sudden traumatic injury such as a torn ligament or a moderate ankle sprain can lead to arthritis in the future. This form of arthritis can develop many years after the injury and causes the cartilage to wear away just like osteoarthritis. An injured joint is seven times more likely to become arthritic, even if the damaged joint received proper medical care at the time of the injury.

Arthritis of the Foot and Ankle


Pain develops when a joint is injured. If left untreated, an arthritic foot or ankle may eventually become deformed.

Once diagnosed with arthritis, a doctor will recommend a range of treatment including medications, injections, physical therapy or assistive devices such as ankle braces. Surgery may be necessary if nonsurgical treatment is not effective in relieving pain and causing disability.


There is no cure for arthritis, but you should not let it limit your life. Seek treatment as soon as possible to help relieve the pain and reduce damage to joints. There may be a change in your lifestyle, but proper diagnosis and treatment can aid in minimizing the pains and limitations and allow you to lead a productive life.

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