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If you have arthritis of the foot and ankle, the orthopaedic specialists at Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System will carefully examine your foot, diagnose the extent of your arthritis and recommend treatment. Our goal is to ease your pain and help you stay active – so you can live the life you enjoy.

How Arthritis Affects Your Foot and Ankle Joints

Your foot and ankle contain more than 33 joints. They work together with numerous bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments to help you stand, balance and walk. Cartilage protects and cushions those bones, so they don’t rub against each other. Painful arthritis develops when the cartilage in your foot is damaged.


Over time, the protective cartilage in your foot and ankle may deteriorate due to wear and tear.  Bones rub on other bones, making it painful to move your feet and walk. The joints of your foot and ankle become inflamed. Your foot feels stiff. This is called osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis in the foot.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Some people develop another type of arthritis in their foot and ankle called rheumatoid arthritis. This is an autoimmune disease in which your body’s immune cells attack and damage the joints, bones, cartilage, ligaments and tendons, causing swelling and inflammation.

Post-traumatic Arthritis

If you injure your foot and ankle, you may develop post-traumatic arthritis. The bones and joints in your foot are damaged and the cartilage wears away. Sometimes, this type of arthritis flares up years after your initial injury.

Symptoms of Arthritis in the Foot and Ankle

Signs that you may have arthritis include:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Difficulty moving, walking and performing everyday activities

Treating Arthritis in the Foot and Ankle

Our experts at Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System will carefully examine your foot and ankle and determine the extent of the arthritis in your foot. You may get X-rays or another type of diagnostic imaging. Then, we’ll create a treatment plan designed to relieve your specific symptoms. There’s no cure for arthritis but, with proper treatment, many people can live active lifestyles.

Nonsurgical Treatments for Arthritis in the Foot and Ankle

Initially, we’ll recommend nonsurgical treatments to relieve pain and slow the progression of arthritis. Nonsurgical treatments include:

  • Lifestyle changes – For example, instead of running or playing tennis, you might switch to lower impact exercises such as swimming or cycling.
  • Weight loss – Losing weight reduces stress on your joints.
  • Oral medications – Ibuprofen and prescription steroid medications help reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Custom orthotics – Shoe inserts support and cushion the foot and improve movement.
  • Bracing – Foot braces support the joint during walking to prevent further deformity.
  • Immobilization – Wearing a cast or removable boot restricts movement and allows the inflammation in your foot to subside.
  • Steroid injections – Injections deliver anti-inflammatory medication directly to the arthritic joint.
  • Physical therapy – Specific exercises help to strengthen the muscles in your foot and ankle and increase flexibility and range of motion.

Surgical Treatments for Arthritis of the Foot and Ankle

If nonsurgical treatments don’t relieve your pain and restore your mobility, your orthopaedic surgeon may recommend a surgical procedure.

Arthroscopic Debridement

During this treatment, your orthopaedic surgeon removes loose cartilage, inflamed tissue and bone spurs in the joint.

Fusion Treatment (Arthrodesis)

With this procedure, your surgeon fuses certain bones together in the joint severely affected by arthritis. Fusion stops the movement in that particular area. Since that joint can no longer move, the bones cannot rub against each other. Your pain is greatly reduced or eliminated. Some people are ideal candidates for ankle fusion – due to their age and the way arthritis has affected the movement of their foot. For others, a total ankle replacement may be a better choice.

Total Ankle Replacement (Arthroplasty)

With this option, your surgeon will remove your ankle joint – the damaged bones and cartilage – and replace it with a new, artificial joint implant. Today’s advanced implants are made with special types of metal and plastic. They are designed to allow your ankle joint to glide smoothly without pain. Typically, an ankle replacement will last about 15 years.

A Special Note About Arthritis Care for Your Foot and Ankle

To determine your best treatment options, it’s important to see an orthopaedic surgeon who has superior knowledge of the foot and ankle. At Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, our experts will help you consider your treatment options and answer your questions completely. We’ll perform a thorough examination of your foot, look at your health history and guide you to the best care and treatment for your particular issues. Our goal is to help you move through your life happily – without the pain of arthritis.

Make an Appointment – No Referral Needed

We welcome Alexander H. MacDonell, IV, MD, to Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System. Dr. MacDonell, a fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeon, specializes in total foot and ankle care. To make an appointment, call 864-530-BONE (2663).

Contact Us

Contact Us

To make an appointment, call
864-530-BONE (2663)
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