While they stem from different causes and attack the feet in different ways, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can cause similar symptoms, including joint pain which may affect the feet.


Osteoarthritis ­ otherwise known as degenerative joint disease ­ is the most common type of arthritis. It most commonly occurs in the weight bearing joints of the hips, knees, and spine. However, it can also disturb the fingers, thumb, neck, and large toe.

Osteoarthritis tends to affect women more often than men. Most people that are 60 years or older have osteoarthritis to a varying degree. However, it has been diagnosed in individuals in their 20s and 30s, as well.

Symptoms often develop gradually and include:

  • Joint aching and soreness.
  • Pain after overuse or after long periods of inactivity.
  • Bony enlargements in the middle and end joints of the fingers ­ which may or may not be painful.
  • Joint swelling and fluid accumulation.

An individual’s chances of developing osteoarthritis are based on several factors including:

  • Heredity
  • Obesity
  • Injury
  • Joint Overuse

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic disease. It causes inflammation of the lining of the joints, and can lead to long-­term joint damage which results in chronic pain, loss of function and disability.

Stages of Rheumatoid Arthritis

The disease progresses in three distinct stages:

  • First Stage: Swelling of the synovial lining, producing pain, a warming sensation, stiffness, redness, and swelling around the joint.
  • Second Stage: Rapid division and growth of cells which causes the synovium lining to thicken.
  • Third Stage: The inflamed cells release enzymes that may digest bone and cartilage, often causing the infected joint to lose its shape and alignment. This causes more pain and some loss of movement.

There is no cure for RA and flares in disease activity occur spontaneously. RA can also begin to affect other organs in the body. However, studies have shown that early aggressive treatment of RA can limit joint damage, somewhat eliminating loss of movement, decreased ability to work, and potential surgery.

Currently, RA affects 1.3 million Americans and its cause remains unknown. However, through the use of new drugs, exercise, joint protection techniques and self­-management, more people than ever are living with RA and leading happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives.

Concerned You Have Arthritis?

Both osteoarthritis and RA can make the joints in your feet very painful. If you are concerned that you may be suffering from arthritis, don’t suffer a moment longer! Schedule an appointment with a podiatrist today.

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