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Arthritis is a disease characterized by the inflammation of the cartilage and lining of the body joints. Inflammation causes redness, warmth, pain and swelling. The primary targets for arthritis are people over the age of 50, although all age groups can be affected. Arthritis is a leading cause of foot pain; this is because each foot has 33 joints that are susceptible the disease.




There are many different types of arthritis. The most common type is called Osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis causes excessive strain and the wearing away of cartilage in the joints of the foot. Movement can become very difficult and painful. Pain and swelling are often more severe while standing or walking. Stiffness and decreased range of motion usually occur after periods of rest.



Gout is another form of arthritis that leads to foot complications. Excess uric acid crystals collect in and around the joints of the big toe. The big toe joint is commonly affected due to the stress and pressure it relieves while walking and during other weight-bearing activities. This often leads to severe pain in the big toe. Men are more likely to develop gout related arthritis than women.


Rheumatoid Arthritis


Another condition is rheumatoid arthritis. It can develop at any age and there is no known cause. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most crippling form of the disease and can affect people of all ages. It can cause severe deformities of the joints and associated fatigue throughout the entire body. People who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis sometimes develop complications such as bunions, hammer toes, clawtoes and charcot joints, among others.




There are many causes of arthritis. Heredity plays a major role, however, arthritic symptoms can develop as a result of many other factors. Some of these include; bacterial and viral infections, prescription and illegal drug use, traumatic injuries, or bowel disorders such as ileitis and colitis.

Forefoot problems such as hammer toes, clawtoes, mallet toes, and bunions often develop as a result of arthritis, particularly in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Problems can also develop in the heel and ankle area due to the associated erosion of the involved joints.


Treatment and Prevention


Conservative treatment (non-surgical treatment) of the arthritic foot includes proper footwear, orthotics, and/or forefoot supports. Arthritic footwear should provide the following benefits:

  • High, wide toe box (high and wide space in the toe area)
  • Have removable insoles for fitting flexibility and provide the option to insert foot orthotics, if required.
  • Rocker Soles designed to facilitate ambulating (walking) and to reduce stress and pain at the ball-of-the-foot.

Arthritic footwear should also accommodate swelling of the foot. Orthotics designed to provide comfort, support and extra cushioning are also recommended. Appropriate footwear and orthotics will reduce pressure and provide a comfortable and healthy environment for the foot.

Forefoot supports such as gel toe caps, gel toe shields, gel toe straighteners and others can often provide relief.

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