Let us help you develop a treatment plan to relieve RA-related foot problems.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a disease in which certain cells of the immune system malfunction and attack healthy joints.
RA causes inflammation in the lining (synovium) of joints, most often the joints of the hands and feet. The signs of inflammation can include pain, swelling, redness and a feeling of warmth around affected joints. For some people, chronic inflammation results in damage to the cartilage and bones in the joint. Serious damage can lead to permanent joint destruction, deformity and disability.
When joints become inflamed due to RA, the synovium thickens and produces an excess of joint fluid. This overabundance of fluid, along with inflammatory chemicals released by the immune system, causes swelling and damage to the joint’s cartilage and bones.
RA foot and ankle symptoms
Foot problems caused by RA commonly occur in the ball of the foot, near the toes (known as the forefoot), although RA can also affect other areas of the foot and ankle. The most common signs and symptoms of RA-related foot problems, in addition to the abnormal appearance are pain, swelling, joint stiffness and difficulty walking.
Deformities and conditions associated with RA may include:
- Rheumatoid nodules (lumps), which cause pain when they rub against shoes or, if they appear on the bottom of the foot, pain when walking
- Dislocated toe joints
- Heel pain
- Achilles tendon pain
- Flatfoot ankle pain
How your foot and ankle specialist can diagnose and treat RA
Most often, treatment of your RA focuses on the medication prescribed by your primary doctor or rheumatologist. But when your condition affects your foot and ankle, Frankel Foot & Ankle have the expertise needed to develop a treatment plan aimed at relieving the pain of RA-related foot problems. The plan may include one or more of the following options:
- Orthotic devices. Dr. Marc Frankel is experienced with fitting custom orthotic devices to provide cushioning for rheumatoid nodules, minimize pain when walking and give needed support to improve the foot’s mechanics
- Accommodative shoes. These are used to relieve pressure and pain and to assist with walking
- Aspiration of fluid. When inflammation flares up in a joint, we may aspirate (draw out) fluid to reduce the swelling and pain
- Steroid injections. Injections of anti-inflammatory medication may be applied directly to the inflamed joint or to a rheumatoid nodule
When surgery is needed
When RA produces pain and deformity in the foot that is not relieved by other treatments, surgery may be required. Dr. Marc Frankel is a highly experienced foot and ankle surgeon who can work with you to select the procedure best suited to you or your loved one’s condition and lifestyle.