A painful form of arthritis affects one in six people over 50 – more than previously thought, research has shown. Scientists from Keele University had to revise previous statistics after studying more than 5,000 people with foot osteoarthritis.
Researchers found the condition tends to affect more women than men, and will often hit people who have spent a lot of time doing manual labour.
The problem is caused by inflammation in and around the joints, damage to cartilage and swelling.
And it can be debilitating – three quarters of people with the condition reported having difficulty with simple day-to-day activities such as walking, standing, housework and shopping.
Lead researcher Dr Edward Roddy said: ‘Foot osteoarthritis is a more common and disabling problem than we previously thought, making everyday tasks difficult and painful for people affected.
‘While it’s been known for decades that joints in the foot can be affected by osteoarthritis, much of the previous research has focused on the hip and knee areas.’
He added: ‘Research into the foot has concentrated almost entirely on the bunion joint at the base of the big toe.
‘Looking at the whole foot and the impact on people’s lives, it’s clear the problem is more widespread than we anticipated.
‘Doctors and other healthcare professionals should be aware that osteoarthritis is a common cause of foot pain in this age group.’
Arthritis Research UK spokesman Professor Anthony Redmond said: ‘This is a very important study.
'We know foot problems become more much 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 study tells us these problems in the midfoot involve some of the same processes that affect arthritic hips and knees – conditions that are taken much more seriously.
‘If we want to keep our over-50s active and healthy we should be similarly serious about arch or midfoot pain.’
By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
PUBLISHED: 00:50, 2 January 2014 | UPDATED: 00:50, 2 January 2014