Like many chronic diseases, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be quite painful and debilitating to those dealing with this condition. Understanding the common foot deformities that can affect those who have RA can help you be prepared to face the complications of this disease. If you have further questions after reading this article, you can contact us at Best Foot Doctor for more information or schedule an appointment. Our experienced doctors can evaluate your unique condition and help you understand your options for improvement.
What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
In simple terms, rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that causes the body to attack its own joints or cartilage. It can break down bony structures and often affects the hands and feet severely if left unchecked. While surgery is sometimes an option for advanced cases that cannot be helped any other way, the physical therapy options available to individuals who are fighting RA are often very successful. Catching the disease early gives you the best chance at preventing full-blown deformities that severely hamper daily life and activities.
How Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect Feet and Ankles?
After the hands, feet and ankles are the areas of the body most susceptible to deformity from rheumatoid arthritis. Because RA tends to target joints, the ankles and toes are the primary spots where this disease prefers to settle. Often it takes the shape of claw toes or mallet toes, where the toes bend down under the foot. This can be extremely painful and make it difficult or impossible to find shoes that fit or even to walk at all if the progression of the deformity is serious enough.
Ankles may also be rendered immovable or very stiff from rheumatoid arthritis. While someone with RA in their ankles can often walk fine over flat, even ground, any walking that requires bending or flexing of the ankle will likely be very painful if not impossible as the condition progresses.
What Are the Treatment Options for Rheumatoid Arthritis?
There are different treatment options available for those who are dealing with RA, but their efficacy will probably depend on how far advanced the condition is. The sooner you are aware of the condition and can fight it, the better chance you have at being able to retain full or mostly full function of your joints.
Some of the common treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis in the ankles and feet are:
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, or DMARDs, are one of the best and most successful ways to treat this disease. They may take a while to work if your condition is advanced, but they are one of the best options available.
- Over-the-counter pain medication like NSAIDs or ibuprofen can help manage pain and inflammation in early stages.
- Inserts or orthotics can help ease symptoms in feet.
- Physical therapy can be extremely effective in helping retain mobility in all joints that are affected by RA.
- Lifestyle changes like quitting smoking and exercising can help relieve symptoms.
How to Find a Rheumatoid Arthritis Foot Doctor in New York City (NYC)
If you are or suspect you may be dealing with rheumatoid arthritis in your ankles and feet, an appointment with a podiatrist should be your first step in getting help. Best Foot Doctor has offices in the Queens, Manhattan, and Brooklyn boroughs, and can help you understand your treatment options going forward. Call us today to schedule an appointment.