While arthritis in the feet is far less common than arthritis in other joints in the body, it does happen, especially when a person suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, a condition that affects the entire body rather than just a few joints. Arthritis often causes swelling of the joints, as well as pain and discomfort throughout the affected area, so arthritis in the feet can limit mobility and prevent a sufferer from walking or moving naturally. No cure exists for arthritis, so treatments often focus on pain management and enhancing one's ability to function normally despite the degenerative condition.
The most severe cases of arthritis in the feet may require surgery, but this is fairly uncommon. Arthritis in the ankle can be treated by removing the joint altogether and either installing a new joint, or by fusing the bones together. A bone fusion is a more permanent solution, though it will limit mobility of the ankle almost completely. For this reason, these surgeries are reserved for only the most severe cases of arthritis, and should be considered a last resort. Recovery from ankle replacement surgery can be painful and drawn out as well, and the patient should expect several months of recovery time.
Arthritis in the feet can often be treated in much the same way as arthritis in other areas of the body. Anti-inflammatory medication can help keep swelling down, thereby alleviating some pain. Steroids can be injected into the joint to help alleviate the pain as well. Over the counter pain relievers can also help relieve some of the pain associated with arthritis in the feet. Physical therapy, stretching, and exercise can help strengthen the foot and slow the progress of arthritis, and these are usually part of any arthritis treatments. Since the foot bears weight any time the body is upright, orthotics may be necessary; these include replacement insoles for the shoe to support the arch, or even specially designed shoes that support the foot. Canes, crutches, and walkers may be necessary in more severe cases of arthritis in the feet.
Obesity can exacerbate arthritis in the feet, so in some cases, weight loss may be necessary to help treat arthritis in the feet, or at least manage the pain associated with it. Gait correction can also help, as unnatural walking motions can make the pain worse or even advance the arthritis more quickly.