While there are many types of arthritis, the two most common forms affecting the feet are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the primary form of arthritis and is known as the “wear and tear” disorder. It can affect any joint. The big toe is especially susceptible due to the tremendous pressure placed upon it while walking or running. Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage to erode, which then causes the bone ends to fuse, resulting in stiffness and aching of the joints. Osteoarthritis can also follow a fracture or a bad sprain to the foot.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a systemic disease, which affects the whole body, including all the joints and muscles in the foot. It affects women more than men and can be inherited. The insides of the joints become swollen and stiff and cause a gradual collapse of the arch; the toes become contracted and pull back. Bunions are a common deformity resulting from rheumatoid arthritis.