Learn about Arthritis of the Foot during Arthritis Awareness Month


Arthritis is inflammation of a joint. Let’s take inventory: Your feet each have 30 joints, including 3 in each of the toes. Add to that your 3 ankle joints and that is a lot of locations for arthritis to set in.

Although there are more than 100 types of arthritis, the most common kinds are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Each of these has different causes, but both can cause extensive pain and limit your range of motion.

Arthritis cannot be cured, but there are ways to ease the pain and discomfort of this disease.

Osteoarthritis of the Foot

Osteoarthritis is a “wear and tear” disease where the cartilage in the joint wears away, causing the joint’s bones to rub against each other. This joint pain may be caused by aging and carrying too much weight. Osteoarthritis also runs in families.

The pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis worsen over time.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. The joint bone and cartilage, as well as tendons and ligaments, are damaged, resulting in pain, stiffness, deformity and even disability.

This chronic disease often starts in the foot and ankle. Rheumatoid arthritis is congenital, meaning that a person is born with a susceptibility to it. Usually, a trigger like an environmental factor or infection will trigger the immune system’s actions.

Arthritis Symptoms and Treatment

May is Arthritis Awareness Month and a great time to review the symptoms of arthritis. Most types of arthritis cause pain and stiffness. These usually develop gradually, but symptoms may also come on suddenly. Other signs of arthritis include:

  • Joint warmth and swelling

  • More pain in the morning or after resting

  • Pain with activity

  • Joint tenderness

  • Difficulty walking

To diagnose arthritis of the foot or ankle, we will do a careful exam and gait analysis. We will take x-rays right here in our office and may order other imaging tests and a blood test.

Our initial treatments will probably be non-invasive and include:

  • Lifestyle modifications like losing weight, switching from high-impact activities to those that are easier on your joints and minimizing workouts such as running and jumping.

  • Physical therapy.

  • Assistive devices such as wearing a brace or using a cane.

  • Custom-made orthotics can minimize pressure on the painful area.

  • Cortisone injections.

  • Anti-inflammatory medication.

If your pain is severe and disabling, or if you get no relief from non-surgical treatment, we will discuss surgical options with you.

We Can Help Relieve Your Arthritis Pain

Foot or toe pain is not normal! If you have any discomfort from arthritis, an injury or just from overuse, please call Michele Kurlanski, DPM at Lighthouse Foot and Ankle Center. Dr. Kurlanski offers expert and professional podiatry services in Cumberland County, Maine. Please call us today at 207-774-0028 to schedule your appointment in our Scarborough office.