This is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune condition whereby the immune response of the body is directed against the body’s own tissues. Rheumatoid arthritis commonly affects the small joints of the hands and feet causing pain, swelling and deformity in the affected joints. This disorder can also affect the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, kidneys, nerves and blood vessels.
Signs & Symptoms include:
- Pain in the knees, hands and feet, usually there are a few joints affected.
- Morning stiffness
- Inflammation of joints with tenderness and warmth
- Decreased motion of the affected joint
- Joint mal-alignment / deformity: Flat feet, bunions can be noticed in some cases
- Rheumatoid nodules
- Joint involvement is usually symmetrical
- Difficulty doing daily tasks
- Ulcerations and wounds
- Fatigue, fever and sometimes weight loss
Rheumatoid arthritis cannot be cured, however the goals of treatment include reducing pain and inflammation and improving mobility and functionality. Appropriate referral to a Rheumatologist for management is needed.
Podiatric management specifically focuses on promoting mobility, treatments include:
- Routine lower limb and foot screenings to pick up problems quickly and ensure adequate management.
- General Podiatric care: Reducing calluses, corns and hard skin, cutting nails, and performing basic foot care that patients find difficult to do on their own due to pain and reduced mobility.
- Treatment of wounds/ulcers.
- RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Specialist footwear and devices to accommodate deformities and allow for comfort and good fit.
- Ambulatory devices and padding/cushioning devices.
- Appropriate foot care advice