RA causes inflammation and swelling, which can cause deformities in the bones and cartilage. This can affect the overall shape of the foot, making it difficult to walk. People with RA often experience some of the following problems in the feet:
- Pain in the heel, ankle, and Achilles tendon
- Stiffness, especially in the morning
- Tingling or burning in the feet (caused by damage to the nerves)
- Nodules (lumps) on the feet that can lead to painful rubbing on shoes or when walking
All of these issues can be painful and can interfere with normal activity. In addition, bone deformities can cause issues with wearing shoes, resulting in sores or improperly fitting footwear.
Getting relief for your feet
Because RA affects the immune system, patients with RA often have a primary physician or rheumatologist who helps manage the condition with medication. In addition, a foot and ankle surgeon can help patients with RA-associated foot problems. Together, the physicians can help people manage the RA and its symptoms. Treatments for foot problems may include:
- Orthotic devices: Orthotics that are specially fitted to a patient’s foot can help provide extra cushioning, and minimize pain from lumps and bone deformities.
- Treatment for swollen joints: Oftentimes, a podiatrist can remove excess fluid from a joint, providing relief from painful swelling and inflammation.
- Steroid injections: This can help with inflammation and pain, and can be applied directly to the problem area of the foot.
- Surgery to correct bunions, hammertoes, and nodules from RA: Your foot and ankle surgeon can talk with you about this option and if it’s right for you.
Finally, there are some self-care measures that can help with RA, as recommended by the Arthritis Foundation:
- Take breaks and rest the feet. Painful, swollen joints need rest and long hours standing should be avoided.
- A healthy diet. Anti-inflammatory foods can help RA symptoms. This includes fish, vegetables, fruits, and olive oil. Avoid processed, fried foods.
- Low-impact exercise. Walking, swimming, and strength training can significantly improve RA symptoms. Talk with your physician about which exercises might work best for you.
- Hot and cold therapies. Some people find relief from icing a painful, swollen joint. Other times, a warm bath or heating pad may be beneficial.
With the help of your physician and a foot and ankle specialist, you can minimize the symptoms of RA and lead a healthier, more active life.
Do you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis? You may need to have your feet evaluated to determine if you need relief treatment for any pain you are experiencing or can experience in the future. Call Kansas City Foot Specialists to schedule an evaluation at (913) 338-4440, or request an appointment online so we can work with you to keep your feet healthy.