Early signs of arthritis in your feet
by Meghan Griech, PT, DPT, cert MDT, CKTP
This article takes 6 minutes to read
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Arthritis can affect any joint in the body, and the feet are no exception.. The signs of arthritis include morning stiffness, pain with prolonged walking or standing, warmth in the joint, tenderness at a joint, and difficulty moving.
There are more than 100 types of arthritis, no matter your age, gender, activity level, or strength; you could develop arthritis in a joint. It is one of the most common and debilitating bone diseases people can develop in their lifetime. Symptoms of arthritis can be mild and last long periods of time; or be severe and last in shorter bouts. Arthritis can also cause permanent joint changes which often can be seen only on X-rays. Certain types of arthritis affect the heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys, and skin as well as joints.
Most types of arthritis develop as the joint ages with normal activity. Inflammation within the joint can cause the arthritic disease to progress. Many types of arthritis develop due to autoimmune or genetic factors, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
The feet are made up of 26 bones connected by ligaments making 33 joints. Numerous muscles from the calf and foot produce the stability and movement the feet need in order to provide the body with balance, mobility for walking, and every other activity we choose to do.
Arthritis can affect one joint in the foot or multiple joints causing pain, stiffness, difficulty maintaining balance, walking or any change in position as we weight-bear on our feet. The bones are covered with articular cartilage, a connective tissue that protects the bones at the surfaces where the joints are formed. Articular cartilage can become inflamed and break down over time, causing the cartilage to wear away and expose the bone surface to the opposite bone in that joint.
Early Signs of Foot Arthritis
Early signs of arthritis are pain, stiffness, and tissue inflammation (swelling).
Foot Pain from Arthritis:
Pain in the feet is one of the earliest signs of arthritis. If the joint surfaces are irritated then mobility and weight bearing on the feet can be painful. Pain in the feet can also be different from morning compared to at night. Shoe types and supports can also play a role in the foot’s pain tolerance.
Stiffness in the Feet:
Arthritis can make the feet feel stiff and difficult to move. The tissue changes of the cartilaginous covering on the bones and the ligaments/tendons can lose extensibility. This stiffness is particularly evident in the morning. Throughout the night as we sleep our feet are generally pointed down, pointing away from our bodies. When we first stand up and get out of bed in the morning, our feet/ankles have to bend in the opposite direction that they have been positioned all night, causing stiffness and pain which could make it difficult to walk. Arthritic stiffness is usually lasts no longer than 30 minutes.
Foot Swelling from Arthritis:
Inflammation from irritated tissues caused by arthritis is a normal response. The feet may appear swollen throughout the entire foot or in just one area, depending on where the arthritis is and where the inflamed tissues are located. Swelling can be present at rest or also with activity.
Although there is no cure for osteoarthritis, there are many options to improve joint health. Wearing shoes that are cushioned and support the feet are important for foot comfort for any weight-bearing. Increasing your activity level to improve joint flexibility and muscle strength is also beneficial.
*Disclaimer: All information in this article is intended for instruction and informational purposes. The author(s) are not responsible for any harm or injury that may result. This information is used to supplement not replace any advice you were provided from your doctor or another medical health professional. No guarantees of specific results are expressly made or implied with this article.