Osteoarthritis is characterized by the natural "wear and tear" of the cartilage that covers the ends of your bones. It acts as a cushion and allows our joints to glide smoothly as we move. As we age, this cartilage begins to degrade, resulting in swelling and pain in the joint. There are 28 bones and more than 30 joints in the foot. When any of these areas develops arthritis, it can lead to pain and difficulty walking. Most ankle osteoarthritis occurs due to natural aging, though sometimes it is related to a previous injury to the ankle. Being overweight may also put you at risk for osteoarthritis due to the extra stress on your ankle joints. Genetic factors may also play a role, such as in individuals with flat foot or high arches. The most common symptom of arthritis in the ankle and foot is pain.