Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Foot and Ankle
Rheumatoid arthritis or RA is an autoimmune illness that occurs when the immune system attacks the joint lining tissue in the body. It can cause painful inflammation and stiffness and arthritis treatment is a must. RA can even attack other parts of the body like the skin, feet and ankle and even internal organs like the heart.
RA usually has periods where the symptoms flare-up and periods of remission where there are no noticeable symptoms. RA of the feet needs to be monitored to make sure that there are no complications.
Issues Related to Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Feet
- Musculoskeletal Issues – It can affect the small joints of the feet causing pain and inflammation and even deformities. A common symptom when RA affects the feet is bursitis.
- Skin Issues - RA rashes can appear on the skin as red, painful and itchy patches. They can cause bunions and corns which if left untreated could develop into ulcers leading to infections and other complications.
- Nail Issues – RA can cause yellowing of nails and thickened nails.
- Circulatory Issues – RA can damage blood vessels in the legs and feet, causing complications like atherosclerosis, Raynaud’s phenomenon and vasculitis.
Common Symptoms That Can Manifest in the Feet
- Pain in joints and ligaments
- Stiffness in toe joints
- Sudden warmth in feet
- Inflammation of joints in foot and ankle
- Joint destruction
Treatments for RA in the Feet
RA cannot be cured, but it can be managed. The support and aids for people with RA has increased over the years and a person with RA can lead a quality life.
The following tips can help relieve the symptoms of RA:
- Using RICE method to relieve pain and swelling.
- Soaking feet in warm water or applying warm compress for chronic inflammation.
- Customizing insoles or orthotic inserts can help reduce pressure on your foot.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for pain and inflammation.
- Braces or specialized boots to relieve pressure on joints.
- In extreme cases, surgery may be suggested to remove excess debris or inflamed tissue in the joint, to remove damaged cartilage and fuse two bones together, or to completely replace a joint.
Also Read: Is It Normal to Have a Sprained Ankle Without Swelling or Bruising?
A podiatrist can help provide relief from the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis of the foot and ankle.