Osteoarthritis of the foot - symptoms and treatment

What it is? Osteoarthritis of the foot is a degenerative and dystrophic process that affects its joints (deforming osteoarthritis of the foot joints). The disease is characterized by gradual destruction of cartilage tissue, in place of which bone growths appear that limit mobility in the joints.

Sometimes these bone growths (osteophytes) can lead to reactive irritation of the synovial membrane, which is accompanied by the development of reactive arthritis. This is what causes the diagnostic errors between deforming osteoarthrosis and arthritis, for the treatment of which fundamentally different approaches are used.

Osteoarthritis of the foot is a fairly common disease. So, according to statistics, it occurs in 10-15% of cases, and its prevalence increases with age. However, at present this pathology also occurs at a young age.

Causes of development

Why does arthrosis of the foot develop, and what is it? From the point of view of causative factors, this disease must be classified into primary arthrosis and secondary. When the primary changes develop on unchanged cartilage in contrast to the secondary.

Currently, the final factors that lead to the development of this disease have not been established. However, a group of conditions that increase the likelihood of developing arthrosis of the foot is distinguished. These include:

  • increased mechanical stress on the joints;
  • impaired microcirculation in cartilage;
  • metabolic disorders in which there is an excessive accumulation of certain chemicals in the joint, which have an irritating and destructive effect (for example, the accumulation of uric acid in gout);
  • pathology of the immune system in which it begins to destroy cartilage tissue;
  • long walking;
  • chondrodystrophic processes;
  • obesity;
  • joint hypermobility;
  • burdened heredity, etc.

For foot joints, predisposing factors can also be:

  • flat feet;
  • traumatic injury to the foot;
  • occupational hazards.

Orthopedic treatment depends on the severity of the degenerative-dystrophic process, therefore, the following methods can be applied:

  • wearing fixing bandages;
  • use of orthopedic canes and crutches;
  • surgical intervention.

Symptoms of foot arthrosis

Of all the joints of the foot, the first metatarsophalangeal joint is most often affected by arthritis. The following symptoms of arthrosis appear by the features of this pathological process, which leaves an imprint on the clinical picture:

  • very often the process is two-way;
  • pain in the first toe;
  • restriction of its mobility;
  • discomfort;
  • difficulty walking;
  • deformation of the joint due to the growth of osteophytes;
  • valgus deviation of the big toe, that is, to the outside.

Wearing close and uncomfortable shoes creates conditions for additional injury to the joint, which aggravates the course of the pathological process. This is expressed in the following:

  1. Progression of osteoarthritis deformans;
  2. Bursitis is an inflammatory lesion of the periarticular bag.


Diagnostics of foot osteoarthritis deformans primarily involves radiographic examination. The main criteria on which the diagnosis is based are:

  • reducing the size of the gap between the articular surfaces;
  • the presence of cysts in the bone tissue;
  • subchondral increase in bone density, which gradually progresses;
  • incomplete and then complete dislocation of the head of the first bone of the metatarsus.

Based on X-ray data, you can set the degree of osteoarthritis deformans. And it is necessary to determine further tactics of treatment and determine the indications for surgery.

Photo arthrosis of the foot on the X-ray.


Complications that can develop on the background of arthrosis of the foot are not as tragic as arthrosis of the hip joint.

Against the background of the progression of the disease, complete immobility of the affected joint gradually develops, which leads to lameness. Patients with this disease rarely become disabled, that is, they do not lose the ability to self-service and perform their professional duties.

Treatment of arthrosis of the foot

The treatment of deforming arthrosis of the foot joints is pursued by the following tasks:

  1. Slowing the progression of the pathological process;
  2. Reduction of pain;
  3. Treatment of developed synovitis (bursitis);
  4. Maximum possible recovery of the function of the affected joint.

To implement the tasks, not only conservative treatment methods can be applied, but also orthopedic correction methods. In the framework of conservative therapy, with which, as a rule, the treatment of arthrosis of the foot begins, drugs from the following pharmacological groups are prescribed:

  1. Chondroprotectors, which allow to activate chondroblasts involved in the synthesis of cartilage tissue, which contributes to its recovery.
  2. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that suppress the severity of the inflammatory response and thereby reduce the severity of pain.
  3. In more severe cases, the use of corticosteroid (hormonal) drugs, which have a stronger anti-inflammatory effect, is indicated.
  4. Antiplatelet agents that normalize microcirculation in the subchondral zone, which slows down the progression of the pathological process.
  5. The use of methods of physiotherapy treatment, which have a complex therapeutic effect on the joint.
  6. Massage and physiotherapy, which partially allow you to restore the function of the damaged joint and improve the condition of the muscles.


Effective prophylaxis that would reliably prevent the development of deforming osteoarthritis of the foot is currently absent.

However, you should follow recommendations such as:

  1. Normalization of body weight to combat excess weight;
  2. Exclusion of foot injury;
  3. Wearing comfortable shoes of suitable size;
  4. Timely correction of flatfoot;
  5. Early detection of any pathological process that predisposes to the disease.

Watch the video: Osteoarthritis of the foot and ankle, Paul Hecht, MD (January 2020).


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