Osteoarthritis of the Foot & Ankle

Osteoarthritis is a condition that results in destruction of joints and can cause pain and even disability in severe cases. Any joint of the body can be affected but weight bearing joints are more common. It is a common cause of pain in the foot and ankle as well.

Joints are covered by capsules and have synovial fluid within them which provides nutrition and protects the cartilage. Chronic wear and tear can cause damage to this cartilage. Damage to this cartilage causes arthritis of the joints. Cartilage destruction by either biomechanical or biochemical forces results in abnormal repair of cartilage and increase in cartilage degradation. When degradation of cartilage exceeds attempts to repair cartilage, osteoarthritis occurs. This progressive loss of cartilage is usually accompanied by increased thickness of the subchondral plate, osteophytes, and subchondral bone cysts.


Symptoms include chronic pain, stiff joints, rigid and painful range of motion of the affected joint, joint swelling and joint deformity. X-rays are utilized to confirm the diagnosis. Loss of joint space and bone spurring is commonly seen.


Initial treatment includes RICE, NSAIDS, supportive shoe gear, custom orthotics. Steroid injections are often injected in the affected joints. When conservative treatment fails, surgical treatment is considered. Alternative treatment including non- NSAID treatments that are more natural options both orally and topically.