The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

New Study Shows 1 in 6 Adults Over 50 Affected by Foot Arthritis

Posted by on Monday, February 10th, 2014


A new study by scientists from Keele University in the UK has revealed that foot arthritis is a more common problem than we initially realized. This research has shown that this painful form of arthritis affects one in six people over 50 – more than previously thought. After looking at more than 5,000 people with foot osteoarthritis, the scientists concluded that 1 in 6 adults over age 50 are affected by arthritis of the foot. 

Who Is at Risk of Developing Foot Arthritis?

In this particular study, researchers found that foot arthritis tends to affect women more than men, as well as people who spend a lot of time doing manual labor.

Previous research has focused on foot arthritis risk factors such as:

– Age

– Obesity

Foot changes during pregnancy

–  Lifestyle factors like smoking

–  Hereditary abnormalities

– Joint overuse related to sports

– A foot or ankle injury, especially previous fractures or surgeries

risk factors rheumatoid arthritis
Much attention focuses on preventing rheumatoid arthritis, since it is such a sudden and debilitating condition.
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Chronic Inflammation of the Foot Is Debilitating

As you probably know, the term “arthritis” refers to a chronic inflammation around the joints caused by cartilage damage. There are three types of arthritis in the feet:

– Rheumatoid arthritis – A system-wide inflammatory disorder; this type emerges suddenly with painful, burning “flare ups” as the body’s immune system attacks and destroys cartilage.

– Osteoarthritis – A degenerative “wear and tear” arthritis common to middle aged and older people; this type generally progresses slowly over time and results in reduced mobility that worsens with time.

– Post-traumatic arthritis – A degenerative condition following a severe sprain or fracture; similar to osteoarthritis, this type may come on after a serious injury has healed.

Scientists say no matter what type of foot arthritis patients suffer from, each variety is no less debilitating. “Foot osteoarthritis is a more common and disabling problem than we previously thought — making everyday tasks difficult and painful for people affected,” said lead researcher Dr. Edward Roddy.  

In fact, 75% of the people who have foot arthritis report difficulty with every day tasks like walking, standing, housework, and shopping. 

Increasing Awareness of Feet Arthritis

“While it’s been known for decades that joints in the foot can be affected by osteoarthritis, much of the previous research has focused on the hip and knee areas,” added Dr. Roddy. Even when foot arthritis was studied, much of the research focused on big toe bunion joint pain. Researchers hope that the medical community will do more to inform their patients about the condition.

foot arthritis
Foot arthritis is more common that researchers initially realized — and deserves more focus as the population ages.
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What You Can Do

Our New York podiatrists have discussed arthritis treatment strategies on numerous occasions. Aside from conventional treatments — like stretching exercises, heat therapy, and prescription or OTC anti-inflammatory medication — you may also consider joint replacement surgery if your condition is causing you severe chronic pain. Updates in techniques and implants have greatly improved in recent years, enabling people to live more mobile and happy lives. Speaking with a professional podiatric surgeon will help you make the best decision concerning your health. If you’re in the New York area, fill out our contact form and one of our surgeons will contact you right away.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.