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Arthritis in the Foot and Ankle

What is it?

Arthritis, or osteoarthritis, can affect any joint in the body, including the foot and ankle. It is characterized by degeneration of joints over time. While some people are predisposed to arthritis due to a prior injury many years ago, in many other individuals. the true cause is not known. In the foot it can occur in joints of the ankle, the bones in the midfoot, or the great toe.

What symptoms does it cause?

While some people with arthritis may experience significant pain, others may not have symptoms at all. The pain is usually worse with walking and movement and relieved with rest. There may or may not be swelling. Often there is stiffness. Unfortunately, arthritis tends to slowly worsen over time.

How is it diagnosed?

Osteoarthritis is diagnosed via discussion with your doctor and X-rays.

How is it treated?

Anti-inflammatory medications are often used to decrease pain, stiffness, and swelling. Sometimes arch support or orthotics can help. Finding good comfortable shoes is key to reducing discomfort associated with arthritis in the foot. Compression or bracing may be helpful in some cases. Cortisone injections can be done on various joints in the foot/ankle to help reduce discomfort. In severe cases, surgery may be done to relieve symptoms.

Appointments & Referrals

Sports Medicine Locations

We have locations in Hillcrest, La Jolla, Encinitas and Scripps Ranch.

Our Specialists

Meet the sports medicine team.

Foot and Ankle Surgeon is Athlete at Heart

Ahmed Sonya

Sonya Ahmed, MD, is the chief of foot and ankle surgery in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at UC San Diego Health. See how this 1966 Olympic hopeful vaulted her way through medical school. Read article.

Online Resources


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