Simply put, arthritis is inflammation of a joint. But there’s nothing simple about the pain or loss of mobility that can be associated with it. In fact, arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States. Although it can affect anyone, arthritis is mainly found in adults.
The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA) typically affects older people. The cartilage that normally cushions and protects the bones of the joint breaks down over time. Eventually, bone rubs against bone, opening the door to inflammation and other mechanical problems like bone spurs.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic inflammatory disease process that may affect the entire body. The body’s immune response attacks the soft tissue in the joints causing inflammation and pain. Over time, the inflammation leads to compromises in the joint’s cartilage and bone.
Depending on which of the joints is affected, symptoms of arthritis vary. Typically, symptoms include pain, tenderness, swelling and difficulty moving the joint. Arthritis in the foot or ankle may make walking difficult and painful, reducing your activity level.
In order to diagnose you properly, your doctor will consider your symptoms, examine your feet, and take X-rays, a CT scan or MRI to get a clear view of the alignment of your toes and the condition of the joints in your feet.