Mid Foot Arthritis

What is it?

Arthritis is the loss of the cartilage lining the joint surface (articular cartilage). Normally this is a soft, glistening, smooth, white tissue that acts as a bearing surface to allow the joint to move freely. If the cartilage is damaged, the surface becomes rough and no longer glides. This causes pain and stiffness within the joint. While the hip and knee are most common, any joint may be affected.

What Causes it?

  • Osteoarthritis (wear and tear). This is less common in the foot than in the hip and knee. It may be genetic (inherited) or may be due to heavy manual work but a specific cause is rarely found.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis. This condition affects joints and organs throughout the body and commonly affects the foot and ankle.
  • Trauma. If the foot or ankle joint has been broken (fractured) at some point, the cartilage may have been damaged causing it to wear out more quickly.

What are the symptoms?

Pain is usually the first complaint. The foot and ankle are composed of multiple bones and joints, allowing flexibility and adaptation to rough ground. Pain may be felt anywhere in the foot, commonly when walking on uneven surfaces. The damaged joints may be unable to maintain the normal shape of the foot and commonly the arch on the inside will collapse, resulting in painful flat feet.

How is the diagnosis made?

The doctor will listen to the description of the symptoms and will examine the foot and ankle. Plain x-rays help to make the diagnosis but it is often necessary to perform a diagnostic injection to confirm which joints are affected.

What is the initial treatment?

The symptoms of arthritis can often be managed with anti-inflammatory painkillers and supportive footwear that can be provided by our orthotist. Avoiding activity that aggravates the pain will also improve it.

If initial treatment doesn't work, what's next?

  • Corticosteroid injection into the affected joint can give great pain relief. They also confirm the source of symptoms should there be any doubt. The amount of benefit is variable, as is the duration that may be as little as days or as long as months. They can be repeated if they are successful
  • Fusing the joints sounds like a drastic procedure but, in the correct situation, produces excellent results. The arthritis will have already caused reduced movement in the joints so fusion will mean little additional reduction. However there will be improved function due to the lack of pain

Our practice covers the following hospitals:

Parkside Hospital
For appointments phone : 0208 971 8026

St Anthony's Hospital
For appointments phone : 0208 335 4678

Ashtead Hospital
For appointments phone : 01372 221441

New Victoria Hospital
For appointments phone : 0208 9499000

Clock House Hospital
For appointments phone : 01372 840837