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Signs and Symptoms of Foot and Ankle Arthritis

About one in four Americans develops arthritis at some point, making it one of the most common joint conditions. And it can affect most any joint in your body, including any one of the 33 joints in your foot and ankle. 

May is Arthritis Awareness Month, making it an especially befitting time to address any joint symptoms you’re experiencing.

At Oexeman Foot and Ankle, PLLC, in Chicago, Illinois, Dr. Stephanie Oexeman and her team diagnose and treat foot and ankle conditions so you can get back to a fuller, more comfortable life.

Here’s a closer look at foot and ankle arthritis, including signs you may be dealing with it yourself. 

Types of arthritis that affect feet and ankles

Of the over 100 types of arthritis, several are particularly common. Osteoarthritis (OA), for example, affects more people than any other type. It results from gradual wear-and-tear or a traumatic injury, causing damage to your tissues that worsens over time. 

OA crops up in the ankles for about 3.4% of the general population, with up to 78% of cases involving some kind of injury. You might break your ankle in a fall, for example, and then develop OA in the joint.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) also commonly affects your feet and ankles. Unlike OA, which usually centers on a specific joint, RA attacks joints throughout your body. Often starting in your hands and feet, more than 90% of cases involve foot and ankle symptoms at some point.

Gout, a third common form of arthritis to affect your feet, affects one joint at a time — very often the joint in your big toe. While RA is an autoimmune disorder, meaning it involves immune system responses, gout is linked with high levels of uric acid in your body.

Signs of foot and ankle arthritis

Arthritis affects people differently as far as symptom type, frequency, and severity. Common signs of foot and ankle arthritis include:

  • Pain that worsens during exercise
  • Pain and stiffness that may worsen after periods of inactivity
  • Swelling and inflammation
  • Warmth and redness
  • Tenderness to the touch

Because of these symptoms, you may have difficulty putting weight on your affected leg and moving about as usual. You may also be prone to spills and related injuries.

What to do about foot and ankle arthritis symptoms

If you’re experiencing signs of foot and ankle arthritis, getting properly checked out is important, either to confirm the diagnosis or pinpoint another underlying condition. In both instances, such an exam can help ensure proper treatment.

If it turns out that your foot and ankle symptoms do derive from arthritis, Dr. Oexeman will recommend a treatment plan, which may include:

  • Custom orthotics
  • Ultrasound-guided injections 
  • Reconstructive surgery, for severe cases

Other measures, such as lifestyle changes and physical therapy, may help as well.

To learn more about foot and ankle arthritis or get the care you need, call our office or book an appointment online today.