How Rheumatoid Arthritis Can Impact Feet

17 Jun, 2024

How Rheumatoid Arthritis Can Impact Feet

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is more than just an ache in your joints; it’s a chronic autoimmune disorder that can turn everyday activities into painful challenges. One of the most commonly affected areas in RA is the feet, which bear the brunt of the disease's relentless assault.


In this brief article brought to you by Mid Penn Foot & Ankle Specialists, we look into how RA impacts your feet, what symptoms to watch for, and ways to manage the discomfort to keep you moving.

If you prefer to consult with a foot doctor, then call Mid Penn Foot & Ankle Specialists to schedule an appointment with a licensed podiatrist. Our team is on standby to take your call or message today.

RA and Your Feet: What’s going on?

RA is the result of your immune system mistakenly attacking healthy tissues, particularly the synovium, or the lining of your joints. This attack causes inflammation, which can lead to joint damage and deformities over time. In the feet, this makes walking and standing a struggle because of pain, swelling, and stiffness in the small joints.


We are committed to providing personalized, compassionate care for everyone who walks through our doors. If you’re ready to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors, give us a call or visit one of our locations today.


Symptoms of RA in the feet

So, how exactly does RA manifest in the feet? The symptoms of RA in the feet can vary, but here are some common signals:

  • Pain and swelling typically start in the toes and can spread to other parts of the feet.
  • Morning stiffness that lasts for more than 30 minutes can make getting out of bed and starting your day particularly difficult.
  • Bunions, hammertoes, and claw toes are deformities that can result from chronic inflammation and joint damage.
  • Rheumatoid nodules, or firm lumps under the skin, can develop near affected joints, causing additional discomfort.
  • Pain and joint damage can make walking painful, leading to a limp or a significant reduction in mobility.

Routine foot care can go a long way in reducing the risks and occurrences of these troubles. Schedule an appointment with a foot specialist once or twice a year to keep your wheels (feet) in great condition!

Living with RA in the feet

Living with RA in the feet means facing daily challenges. Walking, standing for extended periods, and even finding comfortable shoes can become daunting tasks. Activities that were once routine, like going for a walk or standing in line, might now require careful planning and adjustments.

While there is no cure for RA, there are several strategies and treatments to manage symptoms and maintain quality of life:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and biologics can help reduce inflammation and slow disease progression. Always follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations regarding medication.
  • Supportive, well-fitted shoes with plenty of cushioning or orthotic inserts can provide additional support and alleviate pressure on affected joints.
  • Gentle exercises, like swimming or cycling, can help maintain joint flexibility and overall fitness without putting excessive strain on your feet.
  • A physical therapist or foot specialist can design a customized exercise program to strengthen the muscles around your joints, improve flexibility, and reduce pain.

In severe cases, surgical options might be considered to restore function and alleviate pain. It is always advisable to get a second opinion before agreeing to a surgical procedure. Call Mid Penn Foot & Ankle Specialists to consult with a qualified podiatrist. We are also happy to take a message or welcome you to our clinic.

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