Introduction to Arthritis

There are two main types of arthritis, Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the main form of arthritis and is known as the "wear and tear" disorder. It can affect any joint. The big toe is especially susceptible due to the tremendous amounts of pressure that is placed upon it while we are walking.

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Rheumatoid arthritis (Click here for detailed information on Rheumatoid Arthritis)

  • Painful, swollen joints.
  • Soles of the feet may feel tender. Patients often refer to this sensation as "walking on pebbles".
  • Corns, calluses and ulcers may develop under the soles of the feet.
  • The stiffness and inflammation is worse in the morning and after periods of inactivity

Osteoarthritis (Click here for detailed information on Osteoarthritis)

  • Stiffness and pain in a particular joint.
arthritis foot arthritis
Photograph 1.
Shows a typical example of Rheumatoid Arthritic foot.
Photograph 2.
Shows an x-ray of osteoarthritic feet.
Arthritis Causes

Causes of Arthritis

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

    • Autoimmune disease which can be inherited.
    • May be due to a virus.


    • Wear and tear disorder due to repetitive use of a particular joint in the body.
    • Weak cartilage and bone structure is also a contributing factor.
 Arthritis Treatment

Treatments for Arthritis

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

    • Bunions are common amongst rheumatoid arthritic patients (refer to photograph below).
    • Corns, calluses, thick nails and ulcers can occur due to the occurrence of bunions.


    • Hallux rigidus may occur, this is a condition in which the big toe becomes very stiff and painful to move.
    • Corns, calluses and ulcers can occur due to osteoarthritis affecting any bone in the foot.
    • If the ankle joint is affected then a patient may suffer from pain from various tendons that may be affected.
    • In both forms of arthritis the treatment applied by the chiropodist will be very similar.

      • Treatment of corns, calluses, thick nails and ulcers. This may involve paring down the callus and corns and applying redistributing padding.
      • The prescription of orthopedic footwear.
      • Protective shields.
      • Orthosis (insoles) to redistribute pressure away from the affected region.
      • Close communication with other specialist areas such as physiotherapists, rhematologists and specialist nurses.
      • In the case of a rheumatoid arthritic patient, close communication between the chiropodist and the GP may be necessary. The GP may prescribe the appropriate anti-inflammatory drugs. It is also important to consider that rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. It can affect other parts of the body and may slow down healing response times.


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Other Tips:

  • Wear appropriate footwear, which is deep enough to accommodate your feet. Please refer to our Shoes and Health section.
  • Have your foot complaints treated by a chiropodist regularly.
  • If a joint is swollen then the use of ice packs and anti-inflammatory creams can be of some benefit.

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