Osteoarthritis is a condition characterized by wear and tear on the cartilage in our joints, including the joints in the foot and ankle. When the cartilage deteriorates and gets thinner, the bones may rub together, causing pain and inflammation of the joint.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and affects millions of Americans. In the foot, it most often occurs in the big toe, but is also found in the midfoot and ankle. Different types of injuries may eventually lead to osteoarthritis, but it may take many years for the condition to develop.

Osteoarthritis in the big toe is often caused by kicking or jamming the toe, or by dropping something on it. In the midfoot, it is often caused by dropping something on it, or by a sprain or fracture. In the ankle, it is usually caused by a fracture and occasionally by a severe sprain.

In diagnosing osteoarthritis, the foot and ankle team at Lancaster Orthopedic Group will examine the foot and look for swelling in the joint, limited mobility, and pain with movement. X-rays may be recommended to help evaluate the extent of the disease.

Conservative treatments for osteoarthritis of the foot and ankle include anti-inflammatory medications, custom orthotic devices (shoe inserts), immobilization of the foot, steroid injections and physical therapy. If the condition fails to improve, surgery may be recommended to decrease pain and improve function.