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Arthritis in feet: signs and treatment

Arthritis in feet: signs and treatment

What is arthritis in feet?

Arthritis in feet implies anatomical change in feet, functional disorders of the feet .

Inflammation disorders in the joints of the foot disturb physiological functions of the sole: maintenance of upright posture and balance, assistance in ambulation (e.g. ambulation includes walking, jogging, jumping and hopping).

Arthritis in feet can cause movement disorder not only in the foot, but in back (spine) due to improper distribution of weight in the feet (weight transmission to the ground, through arch of the foot , during standing, walking or jogging ).

Foot anatomy is a complex of bones and joints (about 26 bones and 33 joints) connecting together by ligaments and tendons. These bones are arranged into longitudinal and transverse arches with the support of various muscles and ligaments that ensures flexibility as well as dynamic and static support. Any of these joins (for example, Lisfranc joint) can be inflamed and, in case of arthritis tends to spreading through surrounding tissues , resulting in joints destruction, immobilization and disablement of the patient.

There are a number of reasons which may cause arthritis in feet: genetic predisposition, infectious agents (fungi, viruses, bacteria), metabolic disorders, traumatic injuries of a foot, excessive body weight, age-related aging of the musculoskeletal system, too high stress on the joints or inactivity, improper shoes , bad habits, micronutrient deficiencies in nutrition, stress, other chronic diseases (for example, diabetes), individual characteristics of the body and foot structure.

5 Different Types of Arthritis That Affect Your Feet

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis –is a complex inflammatory disease that often affects many small joints throughout the course of the disease. It frequently attacks both ankles or feet at the same time, and is generally categorized by pain and stiffness in the morning. Women are much more likely to suffer from rheumatoid arthritis than men;
  • Gouty arthritis is a condition caused by buildup of uric acid in the joints;
  • Traumatic Arthritis this type of arthritis occurs after acute trauma in the joints;
  • Osteoarthritis – is the most common arthritis disorder, and it is often referred to as degenerative joint disease or degenerative arthritis. Dull, throbbing pain is common. Obesity can make the problem worse, as the joints will be forced to handle extra stress, so weight management can help control symptoms;
  • Infectious arthritis is inflammation and swelling of the synovium, the soft tissue and lining of the joints in the foot. This condition can develop at any age, but is most common in people over the age of 50.

Sings of arthritis in feet

Although every type of arthritis has its own features, there are some signs of the disease which are common for the all types:

  • Homotopic pain is the key symptom of the arthritis. At the very beginning it’s a mild pain, so usually patients don’t pay attention to it. Then the pain turns to be so acute, that the patients have to take analgesic in order to relieve the ache. Gouty arthritis can cause serve pain at the very beginning of the disease. Usually there are pain at rest and ache in motion, but in the latest case, the pain is growing. Its recommended to start treatment in the initial stage of the arthritis, in order to prevent joints destruction;
  • Redness of the skin, localized fever and swelling due to inflammation of a foot. These symptoms of arthritis in feet occur from time to time. The disappearance of the signs does not mean that the disease is over, but only that the disorder is in remission phase;
  • Restricted movements, decreased range of motion in inflamed joints- are hallmarks of arthritis in feet. In the early stages of the disease, joint stiffness occurs in the morning, just after getting out of bed. As soon as the patient walks for a few minutes, joint stiffness disappears. This is one of the key signs of the arthritis which needs to be treated as soon as possible. Otherwise the sign can become chronic and hurts all the time;
  • Joint deformity (swelling, curvature, bumps, bone erosion, eversion of the toes) is a symptom of advanced stages of arthritis in feet. The walk gets worse; the toes can acquire a claw-like or hammer-like shape, ankylosis and subluxations of the foot joints, valgus deformity occur.

Arthritis in feet. Diagnosis.

If the patient doesn’t go to a doctor, the chances for a successful outcome of the therapy are small. Self-treatment for arthritis is prohibited. A rheumatologist or orthopedist will conduct an external examination, ask the patient about his/her health condition, note the presence and severity of objective symptoms of arthritis in foot and prescribe further examinations: laboratory tests and instrumental methods.

A laboratory blood test for arthritis provides information about the amount of uric acid and glucose in the blood, reveals rheumatoid factor and immunological parameters. In some cases, it may be necessary to puncture the synovial fluid (articular lubrication) of the foot joint.

Instrumental diagnostics includes X-ray examination of the state of the joints in foot, computed tomography, ultrasound of the joints, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

An advanced professional examination gives a sense of arthritis in feet and allows the doctor to define the suitable regime using a variety of methods.

Arthritis in feet: Treatment

The way how to treat arthritis should be defined by your doctor – orthopedist, rheumatologist. The treatment should be conducted under medical supervision because otherwise there is a risk of non-motility. The therapy should be complex, with the use of several methods of treatment.

Usually the complex treatment implies the use of medications, physiotherapy and therapeutic physical culture, sometimes surgery. This therapy scheme is common for all the types of arthritis, but medication and exercises are selected for each type of arthritis individually, taking into account the individual characteristics of the patient.

Drug therapy

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents for the treatment of arthritis can help to relieve inflammation, reduce swelling and foot pain , but there can side-effects on the gastrointestinal tract, liver, kidneys.

Glucocorticoid hormones in the treatment of arthritis are usually used as injections in case of NSAID failure, limitedly and under the supervision of a physician.

Cartilage protectors - glucosamine and chondroitin - «building material» for cartilage tissue, designed to stop the destruction of cartilage and promote a partial restoration of joint structures in arthritis in feet.

Antibiotics - are prescribed by a doctor in the case of infection, and the medication is selected individually, depending on the nature of the infectious agent.

Additionally its recommended to take vitamin C, vitamin D3, and vitamin B, trace substance, bioactive additives, general tonic agents.


Physiotherapy in the treatment of arthritis in food provides a variety of methods, based on natural physical factors. The method of the treatment is defined by type of arthritis in food, degree of severity, contraindications, age of the patient.

Be informed that usually physiotherapy is not used in the acute phase of arthritis in feet, the exceptions are some advanced PEMT Therapy Devices with anti-inflammation operating mode, designed for the relieve of serve arthritis pain in feet .

  • Magnetotherapy. Increases blood flow in the feet, improves absorption of drugs. Relieves inflammation, swelling, spasm and pain in the feet. Improves quality of sleep, increases joint mobility. One of the key advantages of the method is that magnetotherapy is suitable for very old arthritis patients, debilitated patients, and even children;
  • Electrophoresis in the case of arthritis in feet, medications are delivered by means of an electric current to the location of lesion. The method dilates blood vessels, relaxes, anesthetizes, and provides a decongestant effect in the disease.
  • Hydrocortisone phonophoresis is a therapeutic treatment method that uses ultrasound to drive hydrocortisone into subcutaneous tissues in order to produce an anti-inflammatory effect. The treatment is used for conservative management of numerous musculoskeletal disorders and helps to restore the joint of the foot;
  • Amplipulse therapy. Able to provide a quick analgesic effect in the treatment of arthritis in small joints of the legs;
  • Mud therapy. Paraffin treatment. They have similar thermal and mechanical effects, accelerate blood circulation, metabolism, and inhibit the degeneration of cartilage and other tissues.

If arthritis in feet is treated correctly, there is hope of stopping the progression of the disease and allowing the patient to feel better.


Surgery (endoprosthetics of the joints of the feet, arthroplasty) is a measure, which is suitable if, the results of conservative leave much to be desired. Surgery is recommended if the deformities of the foot joint have become too pronounced or one of the fingers has become hammer-shaped (then a resection of the toe can be performed).


In addition to therapeutic measures, the patient is prescribed proper nutrition (for gouty arthritis - a special diet), giving up bad habits, wearing comfortable shoes with arch support, professional therapeutic massage. In addition, you can use time-tested folk recipes: compresses with camphor alcohol, mustard powder, radish, apple cider vinegar (without exacerbation); foot baths with oak bark, sea salt, herbs. Before use, be sure to consult your doctor and do an allergy test.

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