In this Article

When to See a Doctor

  • See your doctor if you think you might have osteoarthritis in the foot. The sooner you get some help, the more you can do to slow down the wear and tear on the joint.
  • You may be able to get special inserts for your shoes called orthoses or orthodics. These will change where you put pressure on your feet as you walk.
  • Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist who will show you exercises to relieve the pain in your foot. 
  • See a doctor if you suspect you have rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis. A rheumatologist is a doctor who treats these diseases.


Pain in the toe joints can also be caused by rheumatoid arthritis, in which the immune system attacks the toe joints and causes swelling and pain. With psoriatic arthritis, another autoimmune disease, the entire toe can swell up.


Home Care

  • Ice and rest can relieve the pain from osteoarthritis in the toes.
  • Take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine (NSAID) like ibuprofen to reduce pain and swelling.

What is Arthritis of the Foot and Ankle?

Arthritis causes pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints of the foot. Osteoarthritis is when the cartilage cushion between the joints wears away, causing the bones to rub together. It is common to have osteoarthritis pain in the big toe joint. It can make your toe joint stiff or bend toward your other toes, causing a bunion.