The Early Signs of Foot Arthritis

Arthritis wears cartilage away, causing joints to rub together. This can affect any joints, even the ones in your feet. While it’s common as people age, it can happen for other causes, like genetics or past sprains or fractures.

This article will cover the early signs of arthritis in the feet, advanced symptoms, and where you should go for help.

Recognizing the Early Signs

The earliest signs of arthritis of foot arthritis are pain, stiffness, and swelling, the latter of which is also associated with warmth and redness.


Depending on the type of arthritis you have, foot pain may worsen in the morning or at night. In the early stages, this pain can come and go. It may be sporadic or occur after physical activity and typically happens when applying pressure to or moving the feet and ankles.


Your feet can also feel stiff and have a limited range of motion. Stiffness tends to improve throughout the day with movement and worsens after periods of inactivity. That’s why you may feel stiff upon waking up in the morning.

Swelling, Warmth, and Redness

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury and illness, making it one of the earliest signs of arthritis. The skin can feel warm and appear red, and the feet swollen and sore.

Recognizing the Advanced Symptoms

Over time, arthritis in the feet can develop into advanced symptoms, which include bone spurs, joint deformity, and mucous cysts.

Bone Spurs

Bone spurs, also called osteophytes, are extra bones that form in joints. They usually form after an injury to a joint or tendon, as the body tries to fix damaged bones by adding bone to the injured area. These smooth, hard bumps may lead to pain and stiffness if they rub against other bones or press on nerves.

Joint Deformity

Once arthritis occurs, muscles and ligaments around affected joints become weak, resulting in joint deformity.

Here are the different types that show up on feet.

  • A bunion is a bump on the side of the big toe.
  • A hammertoe is an abnormal bend in the middle joint, most commonly on the second toe.
  • Claw toes bend up at the joint where they meet the foot and the other joints bend downward, creating a claw-like shape. This often affects the four smaller toes.
  • A mallet toe bends downward at the last joint, usually on the second toe.

Mucous Cysts

Mucous cysts are small, fluid-filled sacs. When they develop on feet, it’s usually at the ends of toes or under toenails. These cysts can make it uncomfortable to walk or wear footwear because of their location.

Knowing When to See a Podiatrist

If you are suffering from foot or ankle pain, it’s time to see a podiatrist! Our expert podiatrists at The Foot & Ankle Center specialize in arthritis and many other ailments. Come in for a same-day appointment to put your mind at ease and have a treatment plan customized for you. To get started, give us a call at 314-487-9300 or request an appointment online!