When Foot Pain May Mean Arthritis
Learn about the various causes of foot pain, including different kinds of arthritis.
From joint inflammation to narrowed blood vessels and compressed nerves - these problems may be to blame for painful feet. Learn about the diseases that can affect the sole and mid-foot as well as heels and toes. Many forms of arthritis and related conditions affect the joints of the foot as well as the skin and toenails. Here are some possible diseases that may cause problems for feet, toes and heels.
When Foot Pain May Mean Arthritis
The most common form of arthritis, OA is caused by the wearing away of cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones where they meet to form joints. Without this protective tissue, bones to rub against each other, causing stiffness, pain and loss of movement in the joint. In the foot, osteoarthritis most commonly affects the big toe, but it can affect the ankle and midfoot. Aging and obesity make OA more likely in the feet.
Juvenile arthritis (JA)
Juvenile arthritis is the term used to describe the joint diseases that affect children 16 years and younger. There are different types of JA that can cause pain and swelling in several joints including ones in the feet.
Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis that occurs when the body is unable to remove excess uric acid. The turns into needle-shaped crystals and gets deposited in tissues of the body, including the joints. The first symptom of gout is intense pain and swelling in the big toe. Over time, lumps of uric acid may form beneath the skin of the feet.
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes the body's immune system to mistakenly attack healthy tissues, including the joints. The wrist and small joints of the feet are most commonly affected by lupus.
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA)
Psoriatic arthritis is a form of arthritis that affects joints and the skin (psoriasis). PsA can cause swelling of toes (dactylitis). Psoriasis can affect the skin of the feet and cause toenails to thicken, develop pits and separate from the nail bed.
Also called septic arthritis, this condition occurs when bacteria, virus or fungi spread through the bloodstream to the joint. As a result of the infection, joints of the feet can become inflamed.
Raynaud’s phenomenon occurs when the blood vessels to the extremities, usually in the hands and feet, narrow in response to cold temperatures or stress. They first become cold and white, then blue, and numb or painful. When the vessels open again, the toes become red or purple.
Osteoporosis is a condition that occurs when the bones weaken and are more likely to break with slight trauma. In people with osteoporosis in bones of the foot, just stepping off a curb can cause a fracture. The condition is common among the elderly, people with some inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or those who take corticosteroids.
The most common injuries that affect the feet include fractures, sprains or inflammation of nerves or tendons. Injuries can happen in otherwise healthy joints; however, arthritis and related disease processes can make some more likely.
The most important step is to discuss your symptoms with your primary care doctor in order to get an accurate arthritis diagnosis. In the meantime, visit our sresource center to learn more about these conditions. You may be referred to a rheumatologist or orthopaedist, who have specialized training in the treatment of arthritis and related conditions.
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