Foot & Ankle Arthritis in Asheville

Causes, symptoms & treatments for foot & ankle arthritis

Arthritis of the foot and anklefootprint encompasses more than 100 different conditions; all cause inflammation, pain and stiffness in the joints. Arthritis can’t be cured but treatment can help slow the progression of the disease and make you more comfortable.

Foot anatomy and arthritis

The foot and ankle include 31 bones and more than 30 joints. In most joints, the ends of the bones are covered in cartilage, which helps them move smoothly. Joints are surrounded by a thin lining that secretes synovial fluid for joint lubrication. Arthritis can damage the cartilage and thicken the synovial fluid, making joints stiff and painful.

Common types of arthritis

Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and traumatic arthritis are the most common arthritic conditions in the foot and ankle.

  • Osteoarthritis results from wear and tear (degeneration). Older people and those who are obese are at higher risk for this kind of arthritis.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease – the immune system attacks its own tissues. It is more common in women and genetic factors may play a part.
  • Post-traumatic arthritis, as the name implies, occurs after a joint injury such as a dislocation or fracture.

How do I know if my foot or ankle pain is arthritis?

In most cases, symptoms develop gradually. Pain with motion or that becomes worse with vigorous activity are common. The joint may feel tender when pressure is applied or be red, warm or swollen. Pain and stiffness are typically worse first thing in the morning or after you’ve been sitting or resting for a while. You may have difficulty walking because of the symptoms. Doctors diagnose symptoms by evaluating your symptoms and performing a physical examination, including a gait analysis. In some cases, you may need blood tests or X-rays.

How is foot arthritis treated?

Initially, treatment of foot and ankle arthritis is non-surgical. Medications, changes in activity patterns, or a support like a brace are typical treatments. Physical therapy can help maintain motion and increase strength and flexibility. If your condition continues to get worse, you may need surgery.

If you have pain in the foot or ankle, please contact us for an appointment with  board certified orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Matthew B. Massey, our foot and ankle specialist.