Rheumatoid Arthritis foot pain patients know foot and joint pain way too well. Theirs is a condition that causes stiffness around the joints and swelling of the feet, making their movement often excruciating and tough. For relief, many RA sufferers reach out to over-the-counter drugs and pain medications. However, managing RA requires much more than meds. It requires a thorough understanding of the condition, including its causes. Through understanding its causes, patients can learn how they can treat the disease over the long-term.
Foot pain is the hallmark symptom of RA. Cathy Kramer, a 47-year-old living with the condition states that the pain in her foot has been a norm ever since she was first diagnosed with RA. In her blog, she asserts that her feet were the first part of the body to be affected and explains that even in her best days, her feet have always been sore. X-rays carried out during her diagnosis indicated that she has some joint erosion, a condition that involves wearing away of the bone and cartilage in the joints. The condition is brought about by inflammation of the joint lining.
Cathy Kramer is not alone with statistics indicating that about 89% of people living with this condition experience constant foot pain. According to a study conducted and published in the Open Rheumatology Journal, foot pain makes it difficult for RA patients to engage in daily activities.
With RA, patients experience pain in both of their feet at the same spots. Other symptoms include painful and swollen ankles. Patients often complain of ball-of-the-foot pain, in addition to a widening of the forefoot, which necessitates an increase in shoe size. Doctors state that the stiffness and pain are usually worse in the morning, which forces the patients to wake up about an hour earlier to make the necessary preparations for the day.
Joint inflammation with Rheumatoid Arthritis
Just like with other joints of the body, RA causes an inflammation of the lining of the joints of your foot, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). When the inflamed areas have eroded, they leave a scarred joint, which leads to the ball of the foot becoming a rough and bumpy bone.
Rheumatoid Arthritis & Painful Foot Deformities
One target of the inflammation is the joint capsule, which acts as a sleeve by protecting the joint and making it more stable. The most common deformities related to RA include:
• Charcot’s joint or foot
• Hallux valgus
• Plantar fasciitis
• Rheumatoid nodules
• Valgus Heel
The other foot problem experienced by RA patients is nerve pain. The nerve pain in the foot causes tingling, tenderness, and burning. The sustained pressure on the inner side of the foot can result in the entrapment of the nerves or the tarsal tunnel syndrome.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Foot Pain Treatment
In most cases, surgery is needed to alleviate the pain associated with hammertoes, bunions, and nodules. The foot surgery may involve the resetting of the fusing joints to correct the position of the joints and bones. However, before scheduling a surgery, you might want to consider non-invasive approaches such as the right shoes or braces.
What’s the Right Footwear?
Pointy-toed shoes or narrow-toed shoes and heels are bad for RA as they cause you to put pressure on the ball of the foot and therefore lead to marked deformities. The recommended shoes are the ones with a flat heel, wide-toe room, and a high ceiling.
7 Additional Tips to Relieve Foot Pain
1. Weight loss
The more you weigh, the greater your risk of having foot pain even if you do not suffer from RA.
2. Change your exercise of choice
Choosing exercises that don’t put pressure on your feet, such as swimming, is an excellent way to avoid additional pain. Other exercises like cycling can also help.
3. Consult with a podiatrist
A foot therapist will help you find the right orthotics for your shoes and make you feel more comfortable by attending to calluses and other forms of irritation.
4. Buy shoes you can wear
Buy shoes that allow your feet to feel comfortable in a variety of positions.
5. Listen to your feet
Getting better in tune with your feet will help you determine the kind of shoes you need to wear. Be aware of when your feet need a lot of support, and when they just need to breathe.
6. Constantly check your feet for problems
Look out for bruises, minor cuts, and scrapes and visit your doctor if they do not heal in two days.
7. Take a massage or warm foot bath
Cold and hot therapies are necessary to ease joint pain.
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