Arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions that affect the feet can have a great impact on your daily activities and livelihood. This information will look at common conditions that can affect your feet, and things you can do to manage.
While osteoarthritis can affect any of the joints in the feet, it commonly affects the big toe joint or the joints in the middle of the foot. It usually is the result of a prior injury or poor foot function.
Decreased movement or complete fusion of the big toe joint is quite common and there may also be an associated bunion (bony lump on the outside of the joint) present in this area.
When osteoarthritis affects the joints in the middle of the feet, prominent bony lumps called osteophytes may form on the top of the foot. Essentially osteoarthritis in the feet is a ‘wear and tear’ injury where the cartilage of the joint wears thin and the space between the joints becomes narrowed.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that affects many joints in the body. Common symptoms affecting the feet include:
Gout is a common form of arthritis characterised by repeated attacks of extreme joint pain, swelling and redness. It occurs when uric acid builds up in the bloodstream and deposits urate crystals in the joint. The build-up of these crystals can lead to inflammation. The most commonly affected joint is the big toe. During an attack the joint is red, hot, swollen, and is extremely painful. While most other types of arthritis develop slowly, an attack of gout happens suddenly, often overnight.
Psoriatic arthritis is not very common, however it can affect the feet and cause the toes to swell. It’s generally associated with psoriasis of the skin and nails; the skin may appear red, scaly and itchy and the nails pitted and discoloured.
A bunion is a painful bony bump that forms on the joint of your big toe. A bunion develops when your big toe pushes against your next toe. Over time this changes the structure of the joint, causing the joint of your big toe to get bigger and stick out.
The shape and structure of your foot is something you inherit from your parents, and some foot types are more prone to bunions than others. Bunions may also be caused by inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Wearing shoes that cause your toes to be quite confined and crowded – for example shoes that are too tight, too narrow or high heeled – may trigger bunions in people who are more susceptible to developing them.
The treatments used for foot conditions will vary from person to person. Below are some treatment and management options:
Call our MSK Help Line and speak to our nurses. Phone 1800 263 265 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Common foot problems and MSK conditions, presented by Deborah Turner, Professor in Podiatry at Western Sydney University.
This webinar provided information about common feet problems and how to manage them.
Recorded on 25 June 2019.