Orthopaedics What Is Arthritis in the Foot? Degenerative arthritis is a condition that slowly wears away joints (the link where bones meet and move). In the beginning, you may notice that the affected joint seems stiff. It may even ache. As the joint lining (cartilage) breaks down, the bones rub against each other, causing pain and swelling. Over time, bone spurs (small pieces of rough or splintered bone) develop, and the joint's range of motion becomes limited. But movement doesn't have to cause pain. The effects of arthritis can be reduced. The Big-Toe Joint When arthritis affects your big toe, your foot hurts when it pushes off the ground. Arthritis often appears in the big-toe joint along with a bunion (a bony bump at the side of the joint). Other Joints When arthritis affects the rear or midfoot joints, you feel pain when you put weight on your foot. Arthritis may affect the joint where the ankle and foot meet. It may also affect other joints nearby.