Arthritis/Joint Pain

While there are many types of arthritis the two most common forms affecting the feet are: Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the major form of arthritis and is known as the “wear and tear” disorder. It can affect any joint. The big toe is especially susceptible due to the tremendous amounts of pressure that is placed upon it while we are walking or running. Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage to erode which then causes the bone ends to fuse resulting in stiffness and aching of the joints. Osteoarthritis can also follow a fracture or a bad sprain to the foot.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a systemic disease, which affects the whole body. Rheumatoid arthritis affects all the joints and muscles in the foot. It affects women more then men and can be inherited. The insides of the joints become swollen and stiff. It affects the feet by causing a gradual collapse of the arch; the toes become contracted and draw back. Bunions are a common deformity resulting from rheumatoid arthritis.


Rheumatoid Arthritis
Painful, swollen joints.
Soles of the feet may feel tender. Patients often refer to this sensation as “walking on pebbles”.
Corns, calluses and ulcers may develop under the soles of the feet as a result of pressure.
The stiffness and inflammation is worse in the morning and after periods of inactivity.
Stiffness and pain in a particular joint.

Rheumatoid Arthritis
Autoimmune disease which can be inherited.
May be due to a virus.
Wear and tear disorder due to repetitive use of a particular joint in the body, or after trauma to a joint.
Weak cartilage and bone structure is also a contributing factor.
Foot Conditions

Rheumatoid Arthritis
Bunions are common amongst rheumatoid arthritic patients.
Corns, calluses, thick nails and ulcers can occur due to the occurrence of bunions and other deformities.
Hallux rigidus may occur; this is a condition in which the big toe becomes very stiff and painful to move.
Corns, calluses and ulcers can occur due to osteoarthritis affecting any bone in the foot.
If the ankle joint is affected then a patient may suffer from both foot and postural pain.
What the chiropodist will do

In both forms of arthritis the treatment applied by the chiropodist will be very similar.

Treatment of corns, calluses, thick nails and ulcers. This may involve paring down the callus and corns and applying redistributing padding.
The prescription of orthopedic footwear.
Orthosis (insoles) to redistribute pressure away from the affected region.
Close communication with other specialists such as; physiotherapists, rheumatologists and specialist nurses.
In the case of a rheumatoid arthritic patient, close communication between the chiropodist and the family MD may be necessary. The family MD may prescribe the appropriate anti-inflammatory drugs. It is also important to consider that rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. It can affect other parts of the body and may slow down healing response times.
What you should not do

Ignore the pain.
Treat any foot complaints yourself with a razor or other sharp instruments.
What you should do

Wear appropriate footwear, which is deep enough to accommodate your feet. Please refer to our Shoes and Health section.
Have your foot complaints treated by a chiropodist regularly.
If a joint is swollen then the use of ice packs and anti-inflamm