Arthritis in the foot and ankle may be due to several reasons. The single most common reason is either from a previous injury or trauma to the region resulting in damage to the cartilage and/or bone such as a fracture or broken bone. Commonly, if a fracture occurs or there is a sprain and the problem area is not treated properly at the initial time of injury, arthritis may develop. This type of arthritis is called traumatic arthritis.
A second type of arthritis is from a problem with the body attacking the joints of the foot and ankle and any other joint in the body. This results in the fluid within the joint eating away the cartilage and bone and causes damage to the joint. No fracture or trauma is necessary. There are often problems with the ligaments that support the joints in such cases. This type of arthritis is called rheumatoid arthritis.
The final type of arthritis is due to overuse of the joint and normal wear and tear on the joints with aging. This is most common with age and is chronic in nature getting worse as age increases. There is no history of injury and the arthritis may involve one or many joints of the foot and ankle and other sites of the body.
As the most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis affects millions of Americans. Many people refer to osteoarthritis simply as arthritis, even though there are more than 100 different types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a condition characterized by the breakdown and eventual loss of cartilage in one or more joints. Cartilage—the connective tissue found at the end of the bones in the joints—protects and cushions the bones during movement. When cartilage deteriorates or is lost, symptoms develop that can restrict one's ability to easily perform daily activities.
People with osteoarthritis in the foot or ankle experience, in varying degrees, one or more of the following:
- Pain and stiffness in the joint
- Swelling in or near the joint
- Difficulty walking or bending the joint
There are multiple surgical treatment options for foot and ankle arthritis. The goal of any surgical procedure is to restore as much function as possible with as little limitation to activity as possible and ensure a rapid recovery.