Arthritis of the feet and ankles is no different from arthritic conditions affecting other areas of the body, but treatment of these areas may require specialized care from a podiatrist. Both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis commonly begin in the small joints of the feet and hands, and as such it is not uncommon for people with arthritis to experience the pain, stiffness and swelling characteristic of this chronic disease in the feet and toes. Symptoms of arthritis in the feet and ankles might also include difficulty walking up ramps and stairs or on uneven surfaces and grass. As arthritis breaks down the cartilage within joints, bone alignment in the foot may change, leading to collapsed arches (also called flat feet), bunions and claw toes. Both surgical and non-surgical treatment options are available to repair and reconstruct an arthritic foot and reduce the potential for further injury to the joints as needed.