How Does Arthritis Affect Your Feet?

Are you experiencing aching in your feet, toes, or ankles? It could be a sign of arthritis. This blanket term describes a wide range of conditions, like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, posttraumatic arthritis, causing joint inflammation. You can have arthritis symptoms anywhere two or more bones come together in your body. 

No matter which kind of arthritis you have, it can cause symptoms in your feet that affect your mobility and impact your quality of life. But, Dr. Michael A. Gentile can diagnose arthritis through a comprehensive physical exam and create a personalized treatment strategy so you can find relief. 

Here are a few ways arthritis can affect your feet.


One of the first signs of arthritis in your feet and ankles is often pain. This discomfort can vary from a deep ache to a sharp stabbing sensation when you move. Arthritis pain can also be minor to severe, depending on how much inflammation and deterioration exists in the affected joint. 

Stiffness and swelling 

Arthritis causes cartilage deterioration between your joints. In a healthy joint, this tissue helps your bones move smoothly against each other. When cartilage disappears, however, joint movement becomes restricted, and inflammation develops, even causing visible swelling. In some cases, you can experience so much swelling and stiffness that your joint no longer moves.

Heat and redness

One sign of joint inflammation from arthritis is heat, warmth, or redness in the affected area. When this occurs, you might also find that the tissue is tender to the touch. These symptoms are especially common with rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease affecting the tissue lining your joint capsule.

Popping and clicking sounds

You have 28 bones in each foot and over 30 joints that enable complex movement. As the cartilage deteriorates between these joints, it’s common to develop grinding, popping, or clicking sounds or sensations as your bones rub against each other.

Changes in appearance

If you notice physical changes in your toes or other bones in your feet, they could be due to arthritis. That’s because your body tries to make new bone—also known as bone spurs—to keep your joints from grinding against each other. While this new bone can provide more stability to your damaged joints, it can also change its shape or rotation.

Difficulty walking

Arthritis in your feet, toes, and angles can also make it incredibly difficult and painful to walk. In most cases, your discomfort also worsens with physical activity. The natural response to these symptoms is reducing activity. Many men and women also adjust how they walk or distribute weight across their feet. Unfortunately, these changes can exacerbate arthritis symptoms. Not only by causing weight gain, which increases stress on your joints but by triggering pain in other areas, like your hip and back.

If you think you have arthritis in your feet or ankles, contact us by calling Portland Foot & Ankle Institute or by booking an appointment online today.

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