Living with osteoarthritis


Reduced mobility

If you have osteoarthritis, you may sometimes find it difficult to move around. This can increase the risk of accidents and injuries such as trips and falls.

Foot pain

Osteoarthritis of the feet most commonly affects the base of the big toe. It can cause pain when you walk and lead to a bunion (a bony outgrowth) at the affected joint. The type of shoes you wear can influence this, so avoid shoes with a raised heel. A leg brace may ease the symptoms.

Septic arthritis

If you have had joint replacement surgery (arthroplasty), your replacement joint could become infected. This is a severe complication and requires emergency treatment in hospital.

Read more about septic arthritis.

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Talk to others

Many people find it helpful to talk to other people who are in a similar position to them. You may find support from a group or by talking individually to someone who has osteoarthrits.

Patient organisations have local groups where you can meet other people with the same condition.

The Arthritis Care helpline is open 10am-4pm weekdays. Call free on 0808 800 4050. You can also email them at

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Understanding your feelings

A diagnosis of osteoarthritis can initially be confusing and overwhelming. Like many people with a long-term health condition, those who find out they have osteoarthritis may feel anxious or depressed. But there are people you can talk to who can help. Talk to your GP if you feel you need support to cope with your illness.

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Work and money

If you have severe osteoarthritis and are still working, your symptoms may interfere with your working life and may affect your ability to do your job. Arthritis Care has useful advice on how you can make simple adjustments at work to make it easier to do your job.

If you have to stop work or work part time because of your rheumatoid arthritis, you may find it hard to cope financially. You may be entitled to one or more of the following types of financial support:

  • If you have a job but can’t work because of your illness, you are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay from your employer.  
  • If you do not have a job and cannot work because of your illness, you may be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance.
  • If you are aged 64 or under and need help with personal care or have walking difficulties, you may be eligible for Disability Living Allowance.
  • If you are aged 65 or over, you may be able to get Attendance Allowance.
  • If you are caring for someone with rheumatoid arthritis, you may be entitled to Carer’s Allowance.
  • You may be eligible for other benefits if you have children living at home or if you have a low household income.

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