Rheumatoid arthritis of the Foot
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that can affect the foot. The joints of both feet may be affected and he first signs are swelling, redness and pain in the toes or ankles. This pain can be excruciating and may not resolve itself during the day, as does osteoarthritis. In the joints is a lining called synovium which makes synovial fluid that lubricates the joints so the bones don’t erode away from movement. However, in rheumatoid arthritis, the synovium becomes inflamed to the point where the joint itself starts to “fall apart” and deformities start to form. The cartilage is eroded in the process and parts of the bone itself are often eroded. This can happen in the heel part of the foot, causing a flat foot which leads to other foot disorders, or on the middle of the foot where the arch collapses. If joint damage occurs in the toes, a bunion, hammer toe or claw toe can form. Cause Rheumatoid arthritis may be caused by an infectious agent or may be genetic in nature. It’s also possible that an overactive immune system can be at the root of the disorder, which may indicate that nutritional deficiencies and imbalances are involved. Treatment and Prevention When the pain is severe, ice packs may calm down the inflammation and decrease the pain temporarily. Doctors often prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers, but these do nothing to prevent the condition from progressing. An orthotic insole can be prescribed to decrease the additional pressure put on the foot from new faulty biomechanics of the foot caused by the disease. Arch supports can help alleviate some of the pressure from flat feet caused by joint collapse in the mid foot. Or consider our Arthritic & Diabetic Insoles. Surgery may be needed if extensive cartilage damage is occurring; in these cases, joint fusion is the preferred treatment of choice. However, once a deformity has occurred, it may not be possible to correct.