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This article will help you understand what are the signs of rheumatoid arthritis feels like in your foot and offers tips for managing it at home!

Rheumatoid arthritis of the foot and ankle is a type of arthritis that affects joints on the feet. It can be difficult to diagnose because symptoms can mimic other types of conditions like gout, bursitis, or tendonitis

What is rheumatoid arthritis?

There are over 100 types of arthritis, but rheumatoid is the type that most commonly affects the foot and ankle. It’s a chronic disease in which your body attacks its own healthy cells and tissues by mistake. This causes pain and swelling because it damages cartilage, tendons, ligaments, bones, and other connective tissue throughout the body.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

11 Signs of rheumatoid arthritis

1. Fatigue.

If you feel tired all the time even when your activity level hasn’t changed, it might be RA.

Rheumatoid arthritis of the foot and ankle will cause fatigue because of inflammation in other parts of your body that makes movement difficult. It’s important to note that pain is also a sign of both types of arthritis! If you experience constant pain, it’s important to see a doctor.

2. Slight fever.

Rheumatoid arthritis will cause fever because your body is fighting an infection caused by RA. You might also experience chills or night sweats, especially if you are otherwise feeling well. It’s important to see a doctor for this symptom as it could be something other than rheumatoid arthritis that needs treatment.

3. Weight loss

You might be losing weight without trying because rheumatoid arthritis can cause your metabolism to slow down. This is one of the more difficult symptoms to experience – if you are experiencing unintentional weight loss, it’s important to see a doctor! It could mean something other than RA that needs treatment.

4. Stiffness and swelling.

If your joints are stiff and swollen, it could be a sign of RA in the foot and ankle. You might also feel pain or stiffness after long periods of rest like when you wake up in the morning or sit for extended periods such as during a movie.

5. Joint pain.

Joint pain is a common symptom of both types of arthritis. When you have joint pain, it’s important to remember that there are many types of arthritis and RA isn’t the only one that might affect your joints! If you experience joint pain, see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

6. Morning stiffness.

Stiffness is a common RA symptom. If you experience stiffness when waking up in the morning, it might be rheumatoid arthritis.

7. Sores on the skin that take a long time to heal.

If you have sores or cuts that take a long time to heal, it might be rheumatoid arthritis. RA will attack the skin and slow down healing times.

8. Swollen joints.

If your joints are particularly swollen and painful, it might be rheumatoid arthritis.

9. Low body temperature.

If you have a low body temperature, it might mean that your autoimmune system is attacking healthy cells.

10. Numbness and tingling.

Numbness and tingling in the hands or feet could be a sign of rheumatoid arthritis. This symptom can also occur because of reduced blood flow to the joints, so it might require an MRI to diagnose RA if you experience this symptom.

11. Loss of cartilage between bones.

If you have a loss of cartilage between bones, it might be rheumatoid arthritis. If your joints are swollen and stiff even when not at rest or if they crack easily, these could also indicate RA.

Risk factors of RA

– Genetics: having a parent or sibling with RA means you are more likely to develop it as well.

– Age: the older you get, the greater your risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis of the foot and ankle.

– Sex: women are more likely to develop RA.

Race and ethnicity: people of European or Asian descent have a higher risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis, while African Americans have a lower risk.

– Smoking: smokers have a higher risk for developing RA than non-smokers.  

How Your Foot Doctor May Determine If Your Rheumatoid Arthritis Is Getting Worse

Your doctor will work with you to create a comprehensive treatment plan that includes medications, self-care instructions like physical therapy and foot exercises, as well as surgery if necessary. Your doc may perform certain types of exams on your feet during your regular checkups in order to keep an eye out for symptoms or early signs that the disease is getting worse.

  1. X-ray: a regular x-ray of your foot and ankle will help your doctor see how much damage has been done to bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, and other types of connective tissue. It can also show if any bony growths have formed around the joint due to inflammation or bone loss from overuse.

  2. MRI: This test uses radio waves and a magnetic field to produce detailed images of your foot, ankle, and lower leg. It’s helpful for identifying types of inflammation that aren’t visible on an x-ray or ultrasound because it helps magnify the area being viewed.

  3. Ultrasound: this is another useful imaging test that can provide your doctor with a detailed look at what types of tissues are causing your pain and swelling, as well as how severe the damage is.

Your doctor may also perform tests that measure pressure or touch to help identity which areas are affected by RA. You might be asked to wiggle your toes while he presses down on them in different places to see if pressure on a certain spot causes you pain. Your doctor might also test your reflexes and sense of touch to get an idea about how much damage has been done in the nerves that send signals from your foot through your body to the brain.

What are the complications of RA?

Complications that can arise from RA include:

  1. Bursitis, which is an inflammation or infection in the fluid-filled sacs between your joints.
  2. Calcification of tendons caused by repeated irritation and stress on connective tissue.
  3. Frozen shoulder due to limited range of motion combined with pain inhibiting mobility; inflamed blood vessels called vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessels) can also lead to poor circulation and severe pain.
  4. Heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure are due to an increase in stress hormones (cortisol). Cortisol contributes to the buildup of plaque in your arteries which could lead to heart problems down the road.
  5. Joint damage might cause bones or tissues to rub together, which can cause fractures or deformities.
  6. Lupus and lupus-related arthritis (lupoid) are types of inflammatory arthritis that could lead to symptoms similar to RA such as fatigue, fever, joint pain and swelling, skin rashes and lesions, chest pain/shortness of breath from pleurisy (inflammation of the lining around your lungs), or swelling in body organs like heart, kidneys, and brain.
  7. Pericarditis is inflammation in the tissues surrounding your heart which can cause chest pain when you breathe in deeply or cough. This condition could lead to fluid buildup around your lungs called pleural effusion.
  8. Pleurisy (inflammation of the lining around your lungs) is similar to pericarditis, except its inflammation in the pleural space could lead to shortness of breath.
  9. Reactive arthritis/Reiter syndrome is a type of inflammatory arthritis caused by an infection or condition outside the joint which causes pain inside the joint as well. This can be triggered by a sexually transmitted disease (STD), food poisoning or stomach flu, or even an injury.
  10. Rheumatoid vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessels) is inflammation in the lining around your muscles and organs, which could lead to organ failure.
  11. Sjogren’s syndrome involves dryness due to decreased production of tears and saliva glands because of an autoimmune disease that attacks moisture-producing cells throughout the body. This can cause dry mouth or eyes and may lead to difficulty speaking.
  12. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is another autoimmune disease that causes joint pain due to inflammation in different joints throughout your body instead of just one place like RA. SLE can also affect other types of connective tissues including the skin, kidneys, and brain.

Medications:

Your doctor may prescribe medications to help ease symptoms and decrease the chances of developing complications. These types of drugs include:

  1. Oral corticosteroids like prednisone, which can help reduce inflammation in your body and decrease pain as well as nausea from the medications. This is a short-term solution for relief until you start taking DMARDs or biologics.
  2. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen, which can also help with reducing pain as well as swelling. NSAIDs are types of medications that decrease inflammation but don’t slow down damage to your joints the way DMARDs do. This is a good alternative for those who cannot take DMARDs because of their side effects.
  3. Methotrexate works by slowing down your immune system’s responses, which can help decrease pain and inflammation as well as slow down damage to joints. It is usually used for types of arthritis-like RA that don’t respond well to other types of medications or those who cannot take biologics.
  4. Steroids like prednisone, which are types of medications that decrease inflammation but don’t slow down damage to your joints the way DMARDs do. This is a good alternative for those who cannot take DMARDs because of their side effects.
  5. Abatacept works by slowing down your immune system’s responses, which can help decrease pain and inflammation as well as slow down damage to joints. It is usually used for types of arthritis-like RA that don’t respond well to other types of medications or those who cannot take biologics.

Home Remedies:

There are types of home remedies that can help ease symptoms and decrease the chances of developing complications. These include:

  1. Exercise helps strengthen muscles around your joints, which could protect them from further damage. Exercise is also recommended for those with types of arthritis to increase blood flow throughout the body as well as reduce pain/inflammation in different types of joints.
  2. Heat therapy, like applying types of heat to the affected joint(s) for 20-30 minutes each day five times a week can help decrease pain and inflammation as well as increase blood flow throughout your body in order to speed up healing time.
  3. Types of massage applied around the affected area could reduce stress on that specific area and decrease types of pain in that area.
  4. Types of Natural Supplements like turmeric, ginger, fish oil (omega-three fatty acids), garlic/ginger extracts, ginkgo Biloba extract can help reduce types of inflammation in your body as well as increase blood flow throughout the body to speed up healing time.

Best shoes for Arthritic Feet

Arthritis is a condition that can cause pain and inflammation in the joints. This condition can make it difficult to do activities that require movement, such as walking or standing. If you have arthritis, it is important to find shoes that will provide comfort and support.

Best shoes for Arthritic Feet

  1. BROOKS ADDICTION WALKER V-STRAP 2

    • Supportive leather upper
    • Dual hook-and-loop closure
    • BioMoGo DNA cushioning
  2. ASICS GEL-KAYANO 28

    • External heel counter
    • Plush midsole cushioning
    • Enhanced stability
  3. NEW BALANCE FRESH FOAM 1080V11

    • Stretch knit upper
    • Fresh Foam midsole cushioning
    • Durable rubber outsole

Check this article to learn more about The Best Shoes for your Arthritic Feet.

Your Total Foot Care Specialist: When to see your Foot Doctor

As the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis worsen, your feet may experience different types of problems. Chronic inflammation can lead to deformities in the foot and ankle including bunions on top of the big toe or between your first two toes, hammertoes where you have a claw-like appearance due to contracted tendons that press down on your toe, or metatarsalgia, which is a pain in the ball of your foot.

Other types of symptoms such as numbness and tingling can be a sign that there’s nerve damage due to inflammation. If you experience any type of neuropathy (nerve-related problems), it could lead to loss of feeling or movement in one or both feet.

The types of symptoms you experience may help your foot doctor determine the right diagnosis and treatment plan for you, so make sure to tell them about all types of pain or problems that occur with your feet. If any type of foot problem worsens over time, contact us at 281.395.FEET (3338) or you may visit one of our clinics in Katy, Cypress, Copperfield, Memorial, and Galleria as soon as possible because it could be a more serious problem.