What Is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a condition characterized by the breakdown and eventual loss of cartilage in one or more joints. Cartilage (the connective tissue found at the end of the bones in the joints) protects and cushions the bones during movement. When cartilage deteriorates or is lost, symptoms develop that can restrict one’s ability to easily perform daily activities.
Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative arthritis, reflecting its nature to develop as part of the aging process. As the most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis affects millions of Americans. Some people refer to osteoarthritis simply as arthritis, even though there are many different types of arthritis.
Osteoarthritis appears at various joints throughout the body, including the hands, feet, spine, hips and knees. In the foot, the disease most frequently occurs in the big toe, although it is also often found in the midfoot and ankle.
People with osteoarthritis in the foot or ankle experience, in varying degrees, one or more of the following:
- Pain and stiffness in the joint
- Swelling in or near the joint
- Difficulty walking or bending the joint
Some patients with osteoarthritis also develop a bone spur (a bony protrusion) at the affected joint. Shoe pressure may cause pain at the site of a bone spur, and in some cases, blisters or calluses may form over its surface. Bone spurs can also limit the movement of the joint.