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HealthInfo Canterbury

Living with foot & ankle arthritis

Foot and ankle arthritis are usually treated through changes in lifestyle and treatments such as orthotics, bracing, appropriate pain relief, and physiotherapy. This is often called non-operative, or non-surgical treatment. Surgery is usually only recommended if other treatments haven't worked.

What can I do?

foot arthritisThere are many things you can do yourself to decrease the pain, the effect arthritis has on your life, and the speed at which it gets worse.

The shoes you wear can also play a major part in the amount of pain you feel and how much movement you have. To decrease the pain and make sure you have as much movement as possible:

What can health professionals do?

Arthritis can often lead to corns and calluses forming over deformed joints. It's important not to let the hard skin build up, as it can cause more pressure and discomfort. See a podiatrist to treat any corns or calluses.

Podiatrists and orthotists can prescribe custom-made shoe inserts called orthotics to support your foot, improve the way it works, and provide cushioning to minimise any pain. They can also provide bracing, which supports the affected joint and limits how much it moves. This reduces pain while you are walking and can help to prevent any further deformity.

Your GP or musculoskeletal specialist can prescribe anti-inflammatory medicine and, in some cases, steroid injections into affected joints.

Physiotherapists can help with exercises to strengthen your muscles. Especially if you have osteoarthritis in your ankle, this may give you greater stability and help you avoid an injury that could make your arthritis even worse.

On the next page: Surgery for foot & ankle arthritis

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by orthopaedic surgeon, Canterbury DHB. Page created February 2017.

Page reference: 343063

Review key: HIFAA-342985