Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder which means your body is attacking itself. More than 90% of patients with RA will develop some type of symptom from the disease in the joints of the foot and ankle. This occurs because the cartilage and the soft tissue lining surrounding the joints becomes thickened and inflamed. After time, this can then alter the joint and cause the bones to be deformed around the joint. In the foot this can manifest itself by causing a deformity such as hammertoes, bunions, overlapping toes, bone spurs, calluses, collapsing of your arch and of course pain. You can also begin to develop soft tissue masses called rheumatoid nodules. These are hard, rubbery lumps that usually develop near a pressure point.
There is no cure for RA but with the right team approach, the disease is manageable. This includes help from your primary care physician, your rheumatologist and of course your podiatrist. Treatment of foot and ankle complications from RA usually begins conservative with anti-inflammatory medications, shoe gear changes, custom orthotics, custom braces, physical therapy and cortisone injections. In the later stage of the disease, these options are not always appropriate and surgery may be needed to help reduce a deformity that RA has caused.
At Advanced Foot & Ankle Center, our providers have experience with both conservative and surgical treatment of RA in the foot and ankle. If you have a question about this or any other foot/ankle disorder, please call us at 972-542-2155 to be evaluated.
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