Autoimmune Disease Management 101: Fighting Back

The Podiatric Examination For Diagnosing Foot Arthritis

Arthritis causes inflammation of your joints that can lead to joint damage. While there are different types of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and even septic arthritis, which is caused by an infection, they all cause stiffness and pain in the joints. If you develop pain, stiffness, limited mobility, or swelling of your ankles, feet, or toes, make an appointment with your foot doctor. Here are some things to expect from your podiatric examination for foot arthritis. 

Medical History And Foot Assessment

Your podiatrist will obtain a medical history from you and may ask you when you first noticed your symptoms and if your symptoms affect both of your feet. They may also ask you if you experience morning stiffness of your toes and if you have sustained previous injuries, such as a broken ankle or sprain. Furthermore, your foot doctor may ask you if you have systemic symptoms that accompany your foot and ankle pain, such as fever and fatigue, because if you do, rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder, may be suspected.

In addition to your medical history, your foot doctor will perform a comprehensive physical examination of your feet and ankles. They will assess for inflammation and joint deformities and will listen for popping sounds of your joints during foot movement. The podiatrist will also look for misalignments of your feet, assess your range of motion, and ask you to point your toes and flex your feet to assess joint mobility. 


Following your medical history and physical examination, your foot doctor may recommend an X-ray of your feet and ankles to confirm or rule out the presence of arthritis. The X-ray can reveal arthritic changes of the bones and joints, such as bone spurs and irregularities in the spaces between the joints. If your joint spaces are reduced or narrowed, it may mean that your cartilage is damaged as a result of erosion, which may indicate an arthritic condition.

Your podiatrist may want to take your X-rays while you are standing. If your X-rays are taken while you are in an upright, weight-bearing position, it may be easier to determine the extent of your arthritis, the severity of joint deformities, and which areas of the joints are most affected. 

If you develop any of the above signs and symptoms of foot arthritis, make an appointment with your foot doctor. When arthritic conditions are diagnosed and treated early on, you may be less likely to develop permanent mobility problems and further joint damage.