Stiff, creaky knees and hips or swollen, sore fingers are often attributed to arthritis. Arthritis can affect any joint in the body, including our toes! The four main types of arthritis are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and gout and all can cause pain and discomfort in the toes.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative form of arthritis. It occurs with age and wear and tear as the cartilage inside a joint start to break down. When this happens, the two bones forming a joint rub together causing pain. If the toes become bent or misaligned or if an injury is sustained, arthritis is more likely to occur. Hammer toes and bunions are often genetic and run in the family. Treatment is typically focused on pain reduction through stretching/strengthening muscles around the joint, orthotic supports, proper footwear, bracing and medication. Orthotics can provide support, cushioning, and address pain by minimizing excessive motion and stabilizing the affected joint(s).

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an inflammatory arthritis that is auto immune in nature, meaning the body is attacking itself. This type of arthritis can quickly cause joint deformity, such as hammer toes and bunions. It is managed with medication and footwear/orthotics that accommodate toe deformities and offload high pressure areas.

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) will occur in one third of individuals who have psoriasis. It is an auto immune condition affecting the skin (www.arthritis.org). It can affect large and small joints in the foot, including toes. A prompt diagnosis is crucial as undiagnosed PsA can lead to joint destruction and weak bones.

Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis. It’s suspected when there is a sudden onset of pain, swelling and redness in a joint. It most commonly affects the big toe and is caused when sharp crystals of uric acid build-up in the joint. Gout is controlled with medication and a proper diet. Rocker bottom footwear can be helpful to decrease big toe joint pain.

What does arthritis in the toes feel like?

  • Pain
  • Swelling +/- redness
  • Joint enlargement
  • Decreased movement or range of motion
  • Bent or curled toes
  • Numbness, burning or tingling
  • Issues with toenails

What can help ease the discomfort of these different types of arthritis?

  1. Custom foot orthotics are an effective treatment for all types of arthritis as they support and protect joints in the feet by distributing pressure and bodyweight more evenly. Your orthotics deserve personal attention every step of the way! BioPed clinics are equipped with on-site labs where our clinicians fabricate orthotics to the highest standards in the shortest time possible.
  2. The importance of proper footwear shouldn’t be underestimated! Our lower limb clinicians can recommend footwear for added support, shock absorption and cushioning. Wearing inappropriate or ill-fitting shoes can exacerbate symptoms of arthritis, but supportive shoes provide stability and increased comfort for arthritic joints.   Footwear can also be modified if necessary to accommodate your joints and feet if or when they change with the arthritic process.
  3. Toe wedges, separators and sleeves made of silicone can also help protect uncomfortable toe joints by acting as a buffer between the skin and shoes. BioPed Footcare has a wide selection to choose from!

Arthritis can be painful and debilitating. To learn more on how to alleviate arthritis in your toes, contact your local BioPed today to book an assessment with one of our lower limb clinicians who will help you feel more supported and comfortable so you can do more in life!