Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. Also referred to as “degenerative joint disease”, it results from degeneration, or wear-and-tear, of the cartilage and minerals in our joints. The cartilage cushions our joints, so when it gets worn down, bones rub against each other. This causes pain and makes it difficult to move. This rubbing can also eventually form bony protrusions called bone spurs.
Given that osteoarthritis results from wear-and-tear damage, it is often age-related. It usually affects the weight-bearing joints in our body, like those in our feet. As it progresses, our movement and gait (the way we walk) is affected. It can also lead to other foot disorders like bunions. It is typically aggravated by prolonged activity and is often relieved by resting the affected joints.
Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis is not associated with inflammation or the immune system, whereas rheumatoid arthritis is. Osteoarthritis also only affects the joints, whereas rheumatoid arthritis can involve other internal organs. Both forms of arthritis can however co-exist or lead to one another.
Osteoarthritis in the feet most often affects the joint at the base of the big toe (the first metatarsophalangeal joint, or “MTP” joint), although it also occurs in the midfoot and ankle.
Common symptoms of osteoarthritis in the feet include:
Osteoarthritis is caused by wear-and-tear damage, or degeneration, to the joints. This wear-and-tear erodes the cartilage cushioning our joints. When the cartilage breaks down, joints start rubbing against each other, which produces pain and makes movement difficult. This can ultimately damage the nearby joints.
You can think of our cartilage like a car’s brake pads: As you put more mileage on your car, the brake pads start wearing down. They’ll wear down even quicker if you’re hard on your brakes when you drive or drive a lot in city traffic. Over time, the brakes may wear down to the point that they don’t work properly and need to be repaired.
With osteoarthritis, joint wear-and-tear is caused or contributed to by the following:
Treating osteoarthritis in the feet and ankles involves a comprehensive approach that integrates a combination of the following treatments:
In advanced cases, surgery may be considered. This may involve fusing or replacing the affected joints.
You can book an assessment with one of the foot specialists at our foot clinic to find the best way to treat your osteoarthritis – no referral required. Our knowledgeable staff can also help you find supportive footwear and devices that fit properly and suit your specific needs. Our foot clinic is opened Mondays to Fridays from 9 am to 6 pm, Saturdays from 9 am to 4 pm and alternating Sundays from 10 am to 4 pm.
Because osteoarthritis is often due to age-related joint degeneration (and we can’t help getting older), there is no definitive sure-proof way to prevent it. However, there are some things you can do to control some of the risk factors and encourage healthy aging:
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If you’ve been to the clinic before, chances are you had the pleasure of meeting Carolina! Carolina’s daily goal is going above and beyond to make sure patients are always completely satisfied. Having worked in the podiatry industry for 22 years, Carolina brings a wealth of knowledge pertaining to client service, insurance policies, and procedures. She steers the ship to make sure everything runs smoothly on the daily. Carolina is known for spicing up every outfit with her signature costume jewellery.