Arthritis is a disabling disease.

Characterised by inflammation of the cartilage and lining of the body’s joints there are about 200 forms of arthritis.

The symptoms can affect many parts of the body – especially the feet. Because each foot contains 33 joints and bears a tremendous amount of weight and pressure, feet may be more susceptible to arthritis than other parts of the body. When arthritis affects the feet, it makes standing and movement very uncomfortable.

There is no single cause, but several factors seem to increase the likelihood of getting the disease:

  • Age – uncommon before the age of 40
  • Gender – more common in women
  • Weight – being overweight increases the risk, especially in the knee
  • Injury – an injury, operation or repeated strain at a joint
  • Inherited factors – genetics do play some part in predisposing to arthritis 
  • Infections in the joint

Symptoms of arthritis

If you have arthritis in your feet, your joints may experience:

  • Swelling
  • Recurring pain or tenderness
  • Redness or heat  
  • Limitation in motion
  • Early morning stiffness 
  • Pain when walking

Care and management of arthritic feet

Shoes can also play a major part in the management of arthritis, the following are recommended:

  • Wear flat shoes, high heels push body weight forward on to the front of the foot thus increasing the pressure on these joints
  • Make sure there is enough room in around the toes – the area around the toes should be spacious enough so that no part of the shoe rubs
  • Natural fibres allow for better ventilation, which is healthier for the skin
  • Rubber soles provide extra shock absorption
  • Laces, velcro or buckles across the midfoot will hold the shoe firmly without squashing the toes – shoes that slip may rub against the skin
  • To provide support and stability for the feet wear shoes with an enclosed heel
  • Orthotic insoles and shoes specifically made to support your foot will increase cushioning or shock absorption, they can also direct pressure away from the more sensitive areas of the feet to make walking easier

Joint deformity caused by arthritis may create increased pressure and lead to skin lesions such as corns and calluses over the area. It is important not to let the hard skin build up as it often causes pressure and discomfort.

When to see Foot Matters Podiatry

A Podiatrist has an understanding of the effects of inflammation and degeneration of the joints. They can reduce the amount of discomfort associated with arthritis and provide treatment for corns and calluses.

Podiatrists have an important role to play in preventing and managing foot problems. Prompt action is important. Problems which are left without assessment or treatment may result in major health risks.