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Call for research on foot arthritis

Published on 02 January 2014 02:00 PM

Arthritis of the foot affects more people than previously thought, new research shows, sparking calls for further studies on the condition.


1 in 6 people over the age of 50 suffer from foot osteoarthritis, according to Keele University's Arthritis Research UK Primary Care Centre.

Women are more likely to develop the painful condition, the research reveals, as well as people who have done a lot of manual work.

Symptoms can include stiffness and movement difficulty

Scientists at the centre studied more than 5,000 people with foot osteoarthritis, which features inflammation in and around joints, swelling and damage to cartilage. Symptoms can include stiffness, pain, and movement difficulty.

People who have foot osteoarthritis often have the same problem in other joints, such as their knees or hips.

Difficulty with day-to-day activities like standing, walking, shopping and housework was experienced by three-quarters of people with the condition.

Rheumatology expert at Keele University, Dr Edward Roddy, said 'midfoot' joints were the main focus of the study, as previous studies have neglected this area even though a ‘substantial proportion' of foot osteoarthritis sufferers have the problem in this part of the foot.

We must not dismiss this 'as just an inevitable part of ageing'

'Foot osteoarthritis is a more common and disabling problem than we previously thought, making everyday tasks difficult and painful for people affected,' said Dr Roddy.

Much of the previous research has focused on the hip and knee areas, he said, while research into the foot has concentrated almost entirely on the bunion joint at the base of the big toe.

'Doctors and other healthcare professionals should also be aware of osteoarthritis as a common cause of foot pain in this age group,' argued Dr Roddy.

Foot problems 'become much more common as we get older'

Arthritis Research UK says 7% of over 45s seek treatment for osteoarthritis in the ankle or foot, including 9% of over 75s.

The charity's spokesman, Professor Anthony Redmond, said: 'This is a very important study. We know that foot problems become much more common as we get older but the medical and healthcare community have been guilty in the past of dismissing this as just an inevitable part of ageing.'

'The new study tells us that these problems in the midfoot involve some of the same processes that affect arthritic hips and knees: conditions that are taken much more seriously,' the spokesman added.

Visit the Arthritis Research UK website:

Copyright Press Association 2014

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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