Foot Arthritis Risk Factors That Are Out of Your Control

Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more of your joints, resulting in pain and stiffness, and is especially common in the small foot and ankle joints.

There are over 100 variants of arthritis, and while there are treatments to help slow its progression and mitigate pain and limited motion, there is no cure.

Environmental risk factors of foot arthritis include:

  • Excess Weight/Obesity,
  • Overuse Injuries, and
  • Smoking.

However, certain environmental risk factors are not within our control (unalterable):

  • Age,
  • Genetics, and
  • Sex.

Follow along as we explain foot arthritis risk factors that are out of your control and how they may impact your day-to-day function.

3 Common Foot Areas Prone to Arthritis

1. Big Toe (Hallux Rigidus)

Arthritis of the big toes typically affects the joint at the base of the appendage (MTP joint), connecting it to the foot. As arthritis progresses in this joint, it will induce increasingly more consistent and intense pain while walking.

2. Midfoot

Located just beyond the arch of the foot, closer to the ankle, lie the midfoot joints (tarsometatarsal joints). These joints connect the long bones supporting the arch to the bones in front of the ankle.

Arthritis in the midfoot may affect one or more of the five joints. Regardless, as arthritis progresses, individuals will experience more pain while walking and climbing stairs.

3. Hindfoot

Arthritis in the hindfoot affects three joints:

  • Subtalar,
  • Talonavicular, and
  • Calcaneocuboid Joints.

These joints lie below the ankle and above the heel, and arthritis flare-ups or progression may cause foot and ankle swelling.

Aging & Osteoarthritis (OA)

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis among adults 50 and older and often presents in the MTP joint (big toe).

Clinicians may refer to osteoarthritis as “wear-and-tear” arthritis, as they characterize the condition by the breakdown of the tissues (cartilage and ligaments) protecting the joint-bone connection over time.

Adults afflicted with the condition may find it progresses slowly, gradually worsening, intensifying pain, stiffness, and swelling.

Genetics & Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Rheumatoid arthritis is classified as a chronic autoimmune disorder, meaning the body’s immune system produces antibodies (white blood cells) that target and damage healthy tissue in certain parts of the body.

In individuals without an autoimmune disorder(s), their immune systems produce antibodies solely for killing bacteria and viruses (antigens) throughout the body.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), more than 90% of individuals with RA develop symptoms in the foot and ankle as the disease progresses.

In individuals with RA, antibodies target the tissues surrounding their joints, ultimately softening and deforming the unprotected bone.

Genetic Predisposition & RA

People with specific genetic markers, also known as mutations, are more likely to develop RA.

A family history of RA may increase the likelihood of being born with these genetic markers. However, regardless of family history, anyone’s genetic makeup can develop with these genetic markers.

Like most autoimmune diseases, most doctors suspect that the condition lays dormant until environmental factors “trigger” the mutated genes, sparking the onset of the disease.

As a reminder, these environmental risk factors include:

  • Age,
  • Obesity,
  • Sex, and
  • Smoking.

National & State Arthritis Statistics

According to the 2021 CDC Chronic Disease Indicator, the overall average percentage of adults (over 18 years), as well as the respective averages for females and males within the same age group based on population, are as follows:

The United States:

  • Adults 18 and Older – 23.5%
  • Females – 26.2%
  • Males – 20.6%

The State of Missouri:

  • Adults 18 and Older – 26.2%
  • Females – 28.6%
  • Males – 23.5%

Managing Foot Arthritis with The Foot & Ankle Center

Our experienced and talented podiatrists provide the care and services you need to manage your day-to-day life with foot arthritis.

They will create and augment specialized treatment plans using the latest advanced technologies to address your specific needs, taking every measure they can to optimize your quality of life.

The Foot & Ankle Center is here to help! Schedule an appointment today and get the answers and resources you deserve.

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  • (314) 487-9300