What is midfoot arthritis?
Midfoot arthritis, as the name suggests, is a form of arthritis that affects the midfoot—the cluster of bones in the center of your foot, responsible for forming the arch. Arthritis, in general, refers to a range of conditions characterized by inflammation and the deterioration of joints. In the context of midfoot arthritis, this translates into swelling, pain, and stiffness in the area around the arch of the foot.
What can cause midfoot arthritis?
Just as a car might eventually develop problems after thousands of miles on the road, our feet can also develop issues after years of supporting our weight and movement. Here are some of the causes of midfoot arthritis.
- Wear and tear over time:Much like the tires on a car, the natural “cushioning” in our joints, known as cartilage, can wear thin over time. This is often due to age and the repeated stress of bearing weight, particularly when that weight is being borne improperly. As our cartilage wears away, the bones in the joint can start to rub together, causing the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.
- Injuries and trauma:A severe sprain or fracture that happened years ago might predispose the joint to arthritis. The trauma can damage the cartilage and alter the mechanics of the foot, leading to uneven wear and tear down the line.
- Inflammatory diseases:Certain systemic diseases can cause inflammation in various parts of the body, including the midfoot. This inflammation can damage the cartilage and other structures in the joint.
What are the symptoms of midfoot arthritis, and how is it diagnosed?
Recognizing the symptoms of midfoot arthritis is the first step toward managing this condition effectively. Let’s look at what signs you should be aware of and how healthcare professionals diagnose this type of arthritis.
- Pain: This is the most common symptom. You might experience discomfort in the middle of your foot, especially when walking or standing. The pain might be sharp or dull, and it often gets worse with activity and eases with rest.
- Bone spurs:A bone spur is a small, bony projection that forms along the edges of bones, often in response to joint damage from arthritis. While bone spurs themselves don’t always cause pain, they can lead to discomfort and mobility issues, particularly if they rub against other bones or soft tissues.
- Nerve impingement: As midfoot arthritis progresses, changes in the shape and alignment of the foot can cause nearby nerves to become pinched. This can cause numbness, tingling, or a burning sensation. In severe cases, it can even lead to muscle weakness or foot drop, a condition where it becomes difficult to lift the front part of your foot and toes.
Diagnosing midfoot arthritis involves a physical examination to identify swelling, tenderness, and foot shape changes. Alongside this, the doctor assesses foot movement and strength, reviews your medical history, and discusses your symptoms, previous injuries, lifestyle, and familial predisposition to arthritis. Imaging tests may also be conducted for a comprehensive diagnosis.
What are the treatment and aftercare options for midfoot arthritis?
Generally, arthritis treatment involves reducing inflammation through low-impact activities, icing, oral NSAIDs, and cortisone injections. For midfoot arthritis, strategies include wearing stiffer shoes or using a full-length carbon fiber plate to limit toe movement and reduce midfoot stress. If conservative measures fail, surgery involving joint fusion may be considered, necessitating at least 10 weeks of non-weight-bearing recovery.
Towards optimal foot health
Here at Texas Orthopaedic Associates, we know how debilitating midfoot arthritis can be. Our team of expert orthopedic specialists is committed to helping you understand your condition. Don’t let midfoot arthritis hold you back—reach out to us today.