One major culprit behind foot and ankle pain? Arthritis. Arthritis is a blanket term for over 200 diseases, many of which can cause pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in the joints of the feet and ankles. Read on to learn more about the risk factors and symptoms of these conditions.
Some of the known risk factors common to many types of arthritis include:
- Women are more likely than men to develop most forms of arthritis, with the notable exception of gout (another form of arthritis which can cause severe pain, swelling, and loss of function in the feet).
- Risk of developing arthritis increases with age.
- However, in the US alone approximately 294,000 children under the age of 18 have arthritis–important to keep in mind if your child is experiencing soreness, inflammation, or other symptoms of arthritis.
- Women are more likely to develop arthritis at an older age than men.
- Some forms of arthritis are associated with genetic factors
- Excess weight can play a role in developing arthritis
- Injuries to joints can increase the likelihood that arthritis will develop in the joint
- Infections in the joints may be related to certain types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Symptoms of Common Forms of Arthritis Affecting the Feet and Ankles
The three most common kinds of arthritis are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis. All can affect the feet and/or ankles.
Osteoarthritis develops with age or wear and tear as the cartilage cushioning bones and joints is worn down. Weight bearing joints, such as those in the feet, are particularly vulnerable to this condition. Symptoms include swelling of the afflicted joint, deep aches, pain when putting weight on or using the joint, and stiffness, particularly in the morning. The joint may also feel unusually warm to the touch.
Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is an autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to attack the body–and especially to attack the joints. Attacked joints become inflamed, and sufferers experience pain and swelling in feet, ankles, and other joints. Usually, more than one part of the body swells up, often in a symmetrical pattern. Afflicted areas will be painful and stiff. Sufferers may also experience nausea, fatigue, and rashes, among other symptoms.
Psoriatic arthritis is a condition afflicting approximately 10% of psoriasis sufferers, and occurs when a patient has both psoriasis (a skin condition characterized by inflammation of the skin) and arthritis (inflammation of the joint). Joints and toes may be swollen and scaly, with discolored or pitted nails.
There are, again, dozens of varieties of arthritis with a wide range of symptoms. Any persistent, bothersome symptoms are worth having checked out, even if they aren’t included specifically above. If you suspect you may have arthritis, or have been diagnosed and need help effectively managing your symptoms, we encourage you to request an appointment with our specialists.