Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a condition that causes inflammation in many joints of the body. Unlike osteoarthritis which is caused by wear and tear, rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease where a faulty immune system attacks the tissue that lines and cushions the joints, leaving them swollen, painful and stiff.
This condition particularly affects the hands, feet, wrists, ankles and knees -and tends to occur symmetrically. That is, if your right big toe joint is swollen and painful, chances are, your left one is too. But RA can also affect other organs. As well as joint pain and stiffness, symptoms include muscle aches, anaemia (a low blood count, leaving you feeling tired) and fever. The stiffness tends to be worse in the morning and after rest.
The goal of the podiatrists in rheumatology care is to reduce foot-related pain and improve your foot function and mobility, while protecting skin and other tissues from damage. To develop a treatment plan, a podiatrist will carry out a full physical assessment of an individual’s foot as well as taking a detailed history.
Below is a list of how a podiatrist can help you:
A podiatrist may prescribe a specialist shoe insert to support align or improve the function of the foot eg. insoles, splints. These devices will vary from softer devices that cushion tender areas under the foot to firmer devices that realign the foot, encouraging it to function better.
A podiatrist may provide advice on footwear choices, footwear adaptations and on accessing specialist footwear services.
A podiatrist may provide guidance on self-help techniques including correct use of hot and cold packs and joint protection.