Saturday, May 18, 2024

Does Arthritis Make Your Feet Swell

Pain Across The Ball Of Your Foot

What causes arthritis in the foot and ankle, and how is it treated?

The medical term is metatarsalgia and its the most common foot issue associated with RA, says Jonathan Rouse, DPM, a podiatrist based in Nebraska and spokesperson with the American Podiatric Medical Association. Once the intrinsic muscles in your foot lose their stabilizing forces, dislocations or deformities can occur at the metatarsophalangeal joint , thus increasing pressure on the forefoot and causing pain and inflammation across the ball of the foot, explains Dr. Rouse. People with RA may also experience fat pad atrophy or a thinning and wearing out of the normal fat pad that goes across the ball of your foot which can exacerbate pain, adds Dr. Sachs.

Set A Weight Loss Goal

When it comes to arthritis, what your scale says really matters. People with a higher body weight are diagnosed with arthritis at an earlier age and have more severe arthritis. It makes sense: Feet are a weight-bearing joint, so obesity makes arthritis worse, says Dr. Domingues. Even one extra pound on your frame can equal about five extra pounds of force on your feet. Losing 20 pounds can mean sparing your feet from an extra 100 pounds of force with every stride.

Excess body weight also increases inflammation, which fuels the painful symptoms of inflammatory types of arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. Its not easy to lose weight when you have stiff or sore joints, but even a five- to 10-percent reduction in body weight has been shown to dramatically diminish joint pain and improve exercise tolerance. Check out these weight loss tips that are especially helpful when you have arthritis.

Are There Any Complications

Osteoarthritis can sometimes cause other problems for your feet, which may get worse if the condition isnt treated.

Hallux rigidus

If osteoarthritis in the feet is left untreated, cartilage can wear away completely. This might cause the bones of your foot to join together. When this happens in the big toe, its known as hallux rigidus.

This can make it more difficult to move your big toe and you may have trouble walking. Sometimes bony growths may appear on the top of your toe.


Hallux rigidus and osteoarthritis in your big toe can cause this toe to lean towards your other toes. When this happens, its called a bunion or hallux valgus.

A bony lump can then form on the side of your big toe. Sometimes you might have red or swollen skin over it, and it can also cause hard skin. You might feel unsteady while standing and walking.

Corns and calluses

Corns and calluses can form on your feet in areas where theyre exposed to pressure, or the skin is repeatedly rubbed. This might be because of uncomfortable shoes. Corns are small, hard lumps of skin, and calluses are patches of thicker skin that feel rough.

Corns and calluses can sometimes be caused by other problems with your feet, such as bunions.

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Skin Issues With Ra In The Feet

Changes in your foot shape can result in pressure spreading out unevenly across your foot as you walk. Excess pressure can result in skin conditions:

  • Bunions are thick, bony bumps that develop in the joint at the base of your big toe or fifth toe.
  • Corns are thick, hardened skin patches that may be larger and less sensitive than the rest of your foot skin.

If theyre not treated, both bunions and corns can develop into ulcers. These are open sores that result from skin breaking down due to a lack of circulation or tissue damage in the foot. Ulcers can become infected and cause further foot pain and damage.

Coping With Arthritic Feet

Foot Problems You May Experience as You Age

Your doctor might recommend surgery if other treatments dont work to manage foot and ankle arthritis. Surgical options might include:

  • Arthrodesis: Also called fusion surgery, this involves fusing bones together with rods, pins, screws, or plates. When bones heal, the bones will stay joined.
  • Joint replacement surgery: Also called arthroplasty, this surgery is used only in severe cases. The surgeon will take out damaged bones and cartilage and replace them with metal and plastic.

Home remedies you can try to help you cope with arthritic feet include:

  • Creams containing capsaicin or menthol: These creams may stop the nerves from sending out pain signals.
  • Hot or cold packs in the affected areas
  • Gentle exercises, including yoga and tai chi
  • Foot massage

Making changes to your lifestyle can also help you to feel better and keep arthritis in your feet from getting worse. Lifestyle changes might include choosing low-impact exercises like swimming rather than high-impact ones , maintaining a healthy weight to keep stress off joints, and reducing or avoiding activities that trigger symptoms in the feet and ankles.

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Fusion For Arthritis In Toes

This surgical procedure stimulates bone growth across the joint. The joint is fused together permanently with pins, screws, or a plate. When bone grows across the toe joint, it wont bend anymore. But since the joint is fused, pain is also relieved. Dr. Archer says that she rarely does this type of surgery. Its usually done in active laborers, like carpenters and mechanics, to give them a stable joint with no pain, says Dr. Geier.

Lifestyle Changes For Foot Arthritis

A few changes to your daily life can help you feel better and may keep your arthritis from getting worse.

  • If a certain activity triggers a flare-up of symptoms, try to keep it to a minimum.
  • Instead of high-impact exercises like jogging, do low-impact ones like swimming or cycling.
  • Keep a healthy weight so your joints arenât under as much stress.

Show Sources

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases : “What Is Osteoarthritis?” and “Hand Out on Health: Osteoarthritis.”

National Institute on Aging: “Age Page: Arthritis Advice.”

American Podiatric Medical Association: âArthritis.â

American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons: âArthritis of the Foot and Ankle.â

Arthritis Foundation: âWhen Foot Pain May Mean Arthritis,â âPsoriatic Arthritis.â

Mayo Clinic: âArthritis.â

Read Also: Side Effects Of Arthritis Medication

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Swollen Feet & Ankles

While there are many problematic diseases that affect people each year, rheumatoid arthritis presents a uniquely difficult set of symptoms. Rheumatoid arthritis can be extremely painful and prevent an individual from working. Additionally, rheumatoid arthritis can cause an individuals feet and ankles to swell. Individuals who have RA can lead a happy and healthy life by learning more about the disease and the symptoms it can cause.

Circulatory Problems With Ra In The Feet

When Arthritis Affects the Foot and Ankle

Some common circulatory issues in your feet that can result from RA include:

  • Atherosclerosis. Also called hardening of the arteries, this happens when your arteries become narrow from plaque buildup. This can cause pain and cramps in your lower leg muscles.
  • Raynauds phenomenon.This happens when blood is partially or fully blocked from reaching your toes. This results in blood vessels spasming and causing numbness, and abnormal color changes in your toes from white to blue to red. The toes can feel cold due to decreased blood flow.
  • Vasculitis. This happens when your blood vessels get inflamed. This results in skin rashes, ulcers, and other possible symptoms like fever, loss of appetite, and fatigue.

RA cant be fully cured. But there are plenty of treatments to help relieve the symptoms of a flare-up, as well as reduce the number of flare-ups and prevent joint damage.

Here are some of the most common treatments for RA in your foot:

Here are a few tips to help relieve RA symptoms in your foot:

See your doctor as soon as possible if you notice any of the following symptoms of RA in the feet or elsewhere in your body:

  • swelling in your feet or ankles
  • skin ulcers on your feet or ankles
  • foot pain that gets worse over time
  • severe foot pain that makes it difficult to walk or do any activities with your feet
  • losing range of motion in your foot or legs
  • persistent, uncomfortable tingling or numbness in your feet
  • fever
  • abnormal weight loss
  • persistent, abnormal exhaustion

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Make Sure The Shape Of Your Shoes Matches The Shape Of Your Feet

That may mean a roomy toe box to accommodate bunions or hammertoes, or an extra-wide shoe to reduce pressure on painful spots. Sturdy, supportive shoes are crucial to ease arthritis foot pain. Custom orthotics or a good over-the-counter shoe insert can provide even more comfort and extra support, adds Dr. Sachs. These inserts can help rebalance the foot, give your arch more support, and help cushion the ball of your foot. Talk to your doctor to determine the best footwear for you. Here are more tips for picking the right shoes when you have arthritis.

Drink Water To Help With Circulation

I was told to stay hydrated. The estimated volume of blood in the human body is around 7% of a persons body weight. Our body is 70% blood. We must continue to drink an adequate amount of water so that our systems are well hydrated. I know for me that I should drink more water. I notice with psoriatic arthritis when I increase my water intake my body feels much better.

So many of us consume too much caffeine and sugary drinks. I am at the top of the list on this one. These beverages dehydrate the body. We need water to hydrate our muscles, joints, and cells. I am happy to say I do drink a lot more water now.

Also Check: Does Arthritis Pain Come And Go

How Long Does Foot Swelling From Sprain Take To Disappear

Foot swelling from a sprain can take variable amounts of time to disappear and can be affected by the degree of injury to the ligament and the treatments that are employed to help the ligament heal. Generally, minor sprains can be treated with the following: by resting and not bearing weight or even using crutches, using cryotherapy or chilling the ankle with ice, using compression or an elastic bandage early to minimize swelling, and elevating or raising the leg above the heart to limit swelling. Over-the-counter painkillers or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can limit both swelling and pain. Ankle splints can also keep the ankle from being injured as weight-bearing is slowly increased. It may take six to eight weeks to return to full capability following an injury with good care.

Youre Taking Medication That Causes Swelling

Gout : causes , symptoms , diagnosis &  physiotherapy treatment

Hormonal contraception and hormone replacement therapy aren’t the only meds that can cause foot swelling. So can many other drugs, and usually for different reasons. Pills to control blood sugar in people who have diabeteslike Avandia or Actos make it harder to get sodium out of the body, which leads to swelling.

The heart drugs known as direct vasodilators can also cause it. Vasodilation means the drugs help open up the blood vessels to make blood flow more freely. Examples are Loniten and Apresoline . Calcium channel blockers widen blood vessels by relaxing the muscles in vessel walls. This can also cause foot swelling, as can angiotensin receptor blockers, which prevent sodium from being flushed out of your body.

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Selecting a health care provider is a very important decision. Because we are highly experienced in treating ankle arthritis, we would like to help you explore your options. Visit our Contact Us page to see a list of clinics and their contact information. Our staff will be glad to talk with you about how we can help.

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Foot And Ankle Arthritis Types

Arthritis is a general term for a group of more than 100 diseases. It can involve inflammation and swelling in and around your joints and the nearby soft tissue.

With many kinds of arthritis, your joints wear down over time. You slowly lose the smooth “cushioning” cartilage inside them. As a result, your bones rub and wear against each other. Soft tissues in your joints also may begin to wear down. After some time, the joint might not work or move the way it should.

Several types of arthritis can cause pain in your feet and ankles, including:

  • Osteoarthritis, or “wear-and-tear” arthritis, is the most common type. Doctors also call it degenerative joint disease or age-related arthritis. Osteoarthritis usually causes changes over many years. The foot and ankle joints where itâs most common are:
  • The three joints involving your heel bone, your inner mid-foot bone, and your outer mid-foot bone
  • The joint of your big toe and foot bone
  • The joint where your ankle and shinbone meet
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most serious forms. Itâs an autoimmune disease in which your immune system attacks the joint. It usually happens in the same joint on both sides of your body.
  • Gout happens when you have a buildup of uric acid from your diet. Itâs most common in your big toe because itâs the farthest body part from your heart.
  • Psoriatic arthritis can happen in one or more joints, including your ankles and the ends of your toes. It may also cause toe swelling called dactylitis.
  • Also Check: Mayo Clinic On Arthritis

    Treatments For Ra Swelling

    If the swelling is severe, a doctor may recommend removing excess fluid from the affected joint. This procedure is called joint aspiration and is generally carried out under local anesthetic.

    A doctor may also inject a substance called hydrocortisone into the joint. This is an anti-inflammatory medication that can reduce some of the symptoms that lead to swelling.

    As well as these more immediate fixes, a doctor may prescribe medications to help a person control their RA.

    Some people will take a combination of medications designed to prevent RA flare-ups and slow the diseases progression.

    Examples of these medications include:

    Natural Treatments For Foot Arthritis

    How to Ease Arthritis Foot Pain | WebMD

    If you suffer from arthritis in the foot or toe arthritis, you have many options to find relief. The most important one is to lose any excess weight. Extra weight puts additional pressure on the joints, leading to an increase in pain. If you lose weight, you can relieve a lot of your pain.

    Along with weight-loss, the six other proven natural treatments for arthritis include:

    • Getting in low-impact exercise, as exercise is one of the most important ways to reduce arthritis pain
    • Getting foot massages to reduce tension in your feet
    • Bracing to support the joint during exercise
    • Finding the right shoes for foot arthritis
    • Performing exercises and stretches for your feet, especially with big toe arthritis

    Recommended Reading: What Makes Rheumatoid Arthritis Worse

    How Can I Prevent Arthritis In My Feet

    Although it may be impossible to prevent arthritis from developing, the conditions that lead to it can be corrected. For instance, if you have osteoarthritis, correcting any faulty mechanics that lead to the joint not moving properly may prevent further joint damage.

    Wearing proper footwear or custom orthotics prescribed by your podiatrist will ensure that the foot and ankle joints are properly aligned. If you have a rheumatic disease, such as gout, controlling your uric acid level can reduce the incidence of the associated arthritis.

    Treatment For Foot Numbness

    Numbness in the feet, whether it be in the legs, top or bottom of the foot, or the toes, may be treated with certain types of physical therapy, such as anodyne therapy. In diabetics, better control of their glucose levels may diminish the sensation of numbness in the feet and legs. Supplementation of B vitamins may also result in improvement in foot numbness, as well as alpha lipoic acid. If nerve entrapment is known to be the cause of the numbness in the foot, legs or toes, then surgical decompression of the nerve either at the spinal cord level or in the leg or foot itself may provide relief.


    There are many causes for foot numbness. Treatment options are available and are based on the underlying cause. One should see a foot and ankle specialist if they experience numbness in the feet, legs or toes.

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    How Arthritis Affects The Feet

    Arthritis can affect anyone, but it becomes increasingly common with age. Thats because joints break down over the years and the protective cartilage that keeps bones from rubbing together begins wearing away.

    Osteoarthritis, also called wear-and-tear arthritis, is diagnosed when the cartilage in the joints deteriorates with age. Rheumatoid arthritis is diagnosed if your immune system continuously attacks the linings of joints, including those in the feet.

    Without cushioning, your bones grind against each other when you move. The surrounding tissue gets inflamed, causing pain and stiffness. The main joints in your feet that arthritis often attacks include the:

    • Big toe joint
    • Joint of ankle and shin bone
    • Joints connecting heel and midfoot bones

    Pain associated with foot arthritis can negatively affect your mobility. You might find yourself walking and standing less, and in turn, you lose strength and flexibility in your feet that makes the condition worse.

    What Are The Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis In The Foot And Ankle

    Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect Your Toes

    The most common symptoms are pain, swelling and stiffness. While of the foot or ankle most often affects one joint, RA usually occurs in both feet, typically in the same joint on each foot. Heres a table that gives you an idea of how RA presents in your feet.

    Swipe left to see more content if some table columns are not immediately visible on your device.

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