What is Foot Arthritis and How Do We Treat This Condition?

Osteoarthritis in the Feet

With so many foot bones and joints, foot arthritis is a very common problem. Studies actually reveal that 17% of people over 50 develop osteoarthritis in their feet, often causing debilitating pain. 

But what is osteoarthritis? This condition develops when you develop inflammation in and around joints in your feet, or when your cartilage is damaged. Often, the joints around your big toe are affected, (your risk for arthritis in this area will be higher if you have a bunion) but the bones on the top of your feet can develop arthritis, too. 

When foot arthritis takes hold, studies reveal that as many as 75% of sufferers find it hard to perform their daily tasks. That could impact their ability to do anything from household chores to grocery runs, and it could even make walking or standing too difficult. 

Anyone at any age can develop arthritis, but women are at a higher risk for this condition, probably because women’s feet sustain years of trauma, swelling and inflammation because they wear pointy-toed shoes and stilettoes. 

Foot Arthritis Flares: Gout Attacks

Not all forms of foot arthritis are chronic or progressive. Instead, you may develop gout, a condition that comes in flares, often suddenly and in the middle of the night. With this type of arthritis, the first symptoms usually develop in your big toe. When a gout flare comes on, you wake up to a red, swollen toe that’s so tender, even the touch of your bed sheets feels agonizing. 

What causes gout to flare? This type of foot arthritis develops when uric acid builds up in your blood, causing the formation of crystals that can surround your joints. When that happens, pain and inflammation develop, too. 

Your big toe joint is often the first victim of gout, but this type of arthritis can lead to other types of joint pain as well. Instead of treating gout pain, we try to help our patients prevent flares by carefully monitoring their weight and diet, two major contributors to gout risk. 

Still, if you develop gout pain, we can provide immediate relief with medication; then, you speak to your healthcare provider about taking medications to prevent future flares.  Changes to your lifestyle, such as increasing your water intake, limiting alcohol, and avoiding purine-rich food such as shellfish and red meat can also help you avoid gout flares. 

Finally, don’t forget to get moving, since an active lifestyle can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight, reducing your risk for obesity-linked gout flares.


Rheumatoid and Psoriatic Arthritis 

Psoriatic Arthritis [PsA]and rheumatoid arthritis are both types of autoimmune disease. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that affects many joints, especially the ones in your hands and feet. Symptoms include pain, swelling and joint inflammation, along with skin-related symptoms. In some cases, when you have Psoriatic Arthritis, you may also develop palmoplantar psoriasis. This condition causes the soles of your feet to become cracked or scaly, and can cause blister-like sores to form on the bottom of your feet.  

Even worse, PsA triggers complications such as enthesis inflammation, targeting the connective tissue between bones, tendons and ligaments. When you develop enthesitis, it can impact your Achilles tendon, affecting ankle mobility and even challenging your ability to walk or climb the stairs.  

When we treat PsA, we can address individual symptoms. If PsA causes skin changes on your feet, topical steroids or UV treatment can clear up this disease manifestation. To deal with any related pain, we can prescribe rest, anti-inflammatories and steroids until you experience relief. 

Finally, we’ll need to get your autoimmune disease under control. For many patients, that will involve taking a class of medications known as TNF inhibitors that may prevent future PsA flares.

What If I Have Several Forms of Foot Arthritis?

When you have one type of arthritis, like PsA, your risk for conditions such as gout also increases. Why is that the case? When you have PsA, your toe joints can suffer. They may also develop dactylitis, a condition in which your toes develop severe swelling. In fact, 50% of people who have psoriatic arthritis also get toe swelling. 

What’s the best way to protect yourself from these forms of PsA? Make sure to maintain regular visits with your healthcare provider to manage your autoimmune disease. And come to our office regularly to practice preventative foot care. From carefully choosing your shoes to being extra careful about how you trim your nails, or even just giving your feet some regular TLC with therapeutic foot soaks, we can stay proactive and prevent foot arthritis from slowing you down. 

Foot Arthritis Treatment

While there’s no cure for arthritis, in many cases, there are ways to relieve painful symptoms and prevent disease progression. But, as with all foot conditions, seeking early intervention is key to getting the bets results with the least invasive treatment options. 

Want to stay mobile and pain-free in your 50s and beyond? Never ignore discomfort in your feet. Instead, at the first sign of foot pain, request an appointment with Dr. Lisa Brandy. Once you come in, she’ll work with you to resolve existing foot pain while preventing future problems and keeping you active for years to come! 

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Office Hours
Monday 8:00am - 4:30pm
Tuesday 8:00am - 4:30pm
Wednesday 8:00am - 4:30pm
Thursday 8:00am - 5:30pm
Friday 8:00am - Noon


p. (972) 293-9650
f.  (972) 291-2533


1801 N. Hampton Road
Suite 340
DeSoto, TX 75115

Inside the Inwood National Bank Building on the 3rd Floor

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