Research conducted by Keele University has revealed that foot osteoarthritis (OA) is more widespread than previously believed. According to the study findings, one in six Britons aged over 50 is affected by this painful condition, which means that more than 3.5 million UK adults in that age group suffer from it.
The study, sponsored by Arthritis Research UK, involved over 5,000 people and showed that foot OA significantly affects the lives of those diagnosed with the condition, making it difficult for them to carry out simple daily tasks. This is a condition that prompts about one million Britons to visit their doctors every year. The symptoms include joint inflammation, cartilage damage and bone swelling, which in turn cause pain and stiffness and make movement difficult.
The Keele University team established that foot OA was more common among women and people who have done predominantly manual jobs throughout their lives. Unlike previous studies, where researchers have limited their observations to X-ray data, this team was the first to take into account pain and the impact of the disease on daily activities. According to the study report, 75% of those affected by foot OA experience difficulties with common everyday activities such as walking, standing, household chores and shopping.
The researchers also employed recently developed methods to include cases of OA in the middle of the foot. Previous studies had excluded that part due to problems with detecting the condition in some joints. The data available prior to the Keele study was collected almost entirely through research on the bunion joint, which is located at the base of the big toe.