Good health? It starts at the bottom. With your feet.

October 2021

Your feet provide the foundation for your body to stand upon, therefore looking after them is very important. When your feet can't do their job, the rest of your body can suffer.

Minimising arthritis pain

Though it can be hard, the best thing for your feet is to move. Especially in the morning, use your hand to stretch your feet. Pointing and flexing your toes gently as your feet warm up can help you get on your feet faster and for longer.

Regularly rest during the day, especially if you are on your feet for long periods of time. Taking a moment to sit down and use an ice pack or heat pack can help relieve the pain from activities throughout the day.

It's important to pay attention to the health cues of your feet

Arthritis can cause your toes to subtly change shape or position. It may be difficult when looking at them, but you will likely feel a difference in how your shoes are fitting. 

Calluses on big toes should also be noted. Arthritis often limits motion, especially in the big toe. This causes calluses to appear on the inside of the big toe.

Though arthritis-related pain is more commonly seen in the forefoot, it can also present in the heel. It is often mistaken for sports-related injuries. If the pain doesn’t improve in a week or is recurring, then it may be caused by inflammation of the tendons. Always consult your doctor or specialist for the correct diagnosis of your arthritis symptoms.

Remember, if a go-to pair of shoes start becoming uncomfortable or your feet regularly develop a burning sensation from wearing specific types of shoes, you should speak to a Podiatrist. Podiatrists can help find the best brand, size and type of shoe to support your feet and thus the rest of your body. If pain persists, you may choose to ask about orthotics, specially-made insoles that will provide support to specific joints in your feet.

Other issues that cause foot pain

Often the primary cause of foot pain is simply your lifestyle. Wearing high heels or shoes that don't fit properly prevents the weight of the body from being evenly distributed by the feet, causing pain in your heel, toes or ball of your feet.

High-impact exercise can also cause pain, for example jogging on concrete paths or playing sport on hard courts. 

Poor nail health is a common symptom of psoriatic arthritis and may cause foot pain. Read more about ways psoriatic arthritis can change and look and feel of your nails in this article by CreakyJoints.

Know what you're looking for in shoes

When buying new shoes, enquire about:

  • A stable and supportive heel counter
  • Shoes with insoles or orthoses to help support the feet and improve foot posture
  • Lightweight and flexible material in the soles and uppers to help match the shape of the foot
  • Few or minimal seams, as these can become pressure or friction points
  • Velcro straps to hold the shoe onto your feet and minimise your feet doing the work

Also, make sure there is enough space between the end of you longest toe and the front of your shoes, at least 2cm recommended.

When do I need to see a podiatrist?

Foot Health Australia provides a useful checklist about when you should see a Podiatrist. To learn more, read this fact sheet.

You can find you local podiatrist using our Find a specialist page or visit the Australian Podiatry Association.

Related articles:

Falls and arthritis - Tips for keeping on your feet

Demystifying foot pain

Podiatry for arthritis

A Real Pain in the Foot


Arthritis Australia: Ankles and Feet

Foot Health Australia

What is a podiatrist and when to see one?

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