Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disorder that can affect various parts of the body, including the feet. Our podiatrists are highly skilled and frequently treat patients with RA-related foot problems. Here’s what you need to know about RA and foot health:
RA occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues, including the lining of the joints. This leads to inflammation and swelling, which can damage the joints and surrounding tissues. The exact cause of RA is unknown, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
RA can cause a variety of foot problems, including:
Pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints of the feet and ankles
Bunions, hammertoes, and other deformities
Ulcers and other skin problems
Numbness, tingling, or burning sensations
Difficulty walking or standing for extended periods of time
There is currently no cure for RA, but there are several treatment options that can help manage symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. Treatment for RA-related foot problems may include:
Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) can help reduce pain and inflammation in the joints.
Physical therapy: Exercises and stretches can help improve joint mobility and strengthen the muscles of the feet and ankles.
Orthotics: Custom-made shoe inserts or braces can help support the feet and relieve pressure on the affected joints.
Surgery: In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair or replace damaged joints.
To prevent RA-related foot problems, it is important to:
Maintain a healthy weight to reduce stress on the joints
Wear supportive shoes with cushioned soles and a wide toe box
Avoid high heels and shoes with pointed toes
Perform regular foot and ankle exercises to improve flexibility and strength
Get regular foot check-ups from a podiatrist