Rheumatoid Arthritis

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissues. Unlike osteoarthritis, which typically occurs due to wear and tear on the joints, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, meaning the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues, primarily affecting the lining of the joints.

RA commonly affects multiple joints symmetrically, meaning it usually affects the same joints on both sides of the body. While it can affect any joint, it often targets the small joints of the hands and feet, including those in the toes. In the foot, RA can cause inflammation, pain, and swelling, leading to deformities such as bunions, hammertoes, and claw toes.

Close up on senior women feet and hand massage on injury spot
What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Foot?

 Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) of the foot is caused by a chronic inflammatory autoimmune response that attacks the tissue lining and cushioning the joints. This inflammation leads to swelling, pain, and stiffness in the smaller joints of the toes, potentially causing deformities and restricting movement.

Unlike osteoarthritis, which is caused by wear and tear, RA involves an autoimmune process targeting the body’s own tissues.

What are the Treatment Options for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) aim to reduce pain, inflammation, and prevent or slow further joint damage. Your Podiatric Surgeon will always liaise with your medical team to optimise your treatment plan, for non-surgical and surgical options.

Non-Surgical Treatment:

  • Insoles, orthotics, splints, and custom footwear can provide comfort and support, although they may not provide long-term solutions.
  • Pain and inflammation can be managed with medications and physical therapy.
  • In severe cases where conservative treatments fail, surgery may be recommended.

Surgical Treatment:

  • Surgical options may include arthrodesis, where joints are fused together using screws, plates, or rods to reduce pain and stabilize the foot.
  • Surgery can also address complications such as hammertoes and bunions caused by RA.

Mr Barlow-Kearsley, with extensive experience in treating RA, can provide personalized treatment plans after consultation.