Is Your Foot Pain a Sign of Rheumatoid Arthritis?

May is Arthritis Awareness Month, and if you ask anyone living with Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), they will tell you that it’s a devastating diagnosis to receive because it is an incurable disease that can cause joint deformity and severe pain. Today, Dr. Hubert Lee of CarePlus Foot & Ankle Specialists is delving deeper into a painful condition.

The good news is that today the treatment options available are the most advanced they have ever been, and they are actually allowing many people with arthritis to live full and active lives.

Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis in the Feet

With arthritis, the immune system assaults the body’s joint tissues, causing inflammation, which can result in gradual damage to affected joints. The immune system attacks the fluid within the joints as well as the joint lining, which then becomes acutely inflamed, causing a swollen and warm joint.

If left untreated, continued inflammation eventually causes bone and cartilage to erode, which leads to deformed joints and diminished range of motion. Additionally, the muscles, ligaments and tendons that surround and stabilize the joints may weaken.

Parts of the Foot Affected by Arthritis

When it comes to the feet, RA typically affects the toe joints, causing a gradual outward shift in the toes and bunions to develop. It may also cause the forefoot to shift, resulting in a loss of stability, which leads to conditions such as hammertoes.

These changes in toe-joint flexibility often cause calluses and pain under the ball of the foot and make finding comfortable shoes more difficult, resulting in the need for custom orthotics.

Other Foot Conditions Associated with Arthritis

Heel pain: This is a common problem for people with arthritis that can strike at the back of the heel resulting in plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, or bursitis.

Nerve entrapment: When the joint lining becomes inflamed, the swelling can cause symptoms of a pinched nerve, also referred to as nerve entrapment.

Rheumatoid nodules: This typically appears as a bump located beneath the skin, usually over a bony lump or tendon. It can grow over the Achilles tendon or on the side of the big toe if a bunion is present.

Skin rash: The inflammation associated with RA can cause wounds or rashes on the lower legs.

A close relationship with Dr. Hubert Lee at CarePlus Foot & Ankle Specialists – who will work to stop joint damage, alleviate pain and inflammation, and improve your sense of well-being – will ensure the best possible outcome throughout the course of your disease. Call our office today at (425) 455-0936 to book your next visit or schedule an appointment online so we can discuss your treatment options.