What Does Rheumatoid Arthritis In The Feet Feel Like
When your feet are affected by rheumatoid arthritis, you may experience swelling, redness, and a feeling of warmth around the affected joints. Pain is very common as well. In one study comparing foot problems in RA patients versus people without arthritis, 98 percent of RA patients had foot pain and 96 percent reported some difficulty in function, compared to 76 percent and 66 percent, respectively, in the healthy group. Compared with osteoarthritis, which typically affects one specific joint, rheumatoid arthritis usually occurs in the same joints on both sides of your body so it commonly affects both feet at once. Symptoms may flare, then go into periods of remission. Heres more information about coping with rheumatoid arthritis flares. Over time, rheumatoid arthritis can cause joints to deform and shift out of place. Specific foot problems caused by RA include:
Soothe With Ice And Heat
Cold therapy can provide relief for inflamed joints in the wrist. Cold constricts the blood vessels in the muscles, which decreases blood flow to the joint area to help reduce swelling and inflammation. Heat therapy warms the skin and the joints, which causes blood vessels to dilate, and sends more oxygen and nutrients to the joints and muscles. Try both and see which makes you feel best.
Physical Therapy For Arthritis In Toes
Your doctor may send you for physical therapy to help improve your range of motion and strengthen the muscles around your foot. Physical therapy can increase pain-free range of motion and strengthen the muscles of the foot to take pressure off the painful joint, says David Geier, MD, an orthopedic surgeon, sports medicine specialist, and author of Thats Gotta Hurt: The Injuries That Changed Sports Forever. These exercises relieve stiffness and increase your ability to move your joints through their full range of motion.
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Change In Feet Appearance
Living with RA can lead to many changes to the feet, including swelling, inflammation, destruction, and deformities. Many of these issues can change the appearance of an individuals feet, which can be distressing, embarrassing, and frustrating!My feet now have bone spurs.I have bone erosion in my toes.My toes have fused themselves in the first joints on my right foot and the bunion that I have doesn’t help so that toe eats into the other one. My feet embarrass me horribly.Significant bone loss in my feet and my right big toe has been numb for so long now I don’t remember when it wasn’t.I developed claw toe on my left foot and plantar fasciitis not long afterSince then the top of my left foot has curved some.I have bone damage and my toes curling.Rheumatoid nodules and hammertoe have left me with only one choice of shoe style.I have a rheumatoid nodule on my big toe and my toe joints are starting to deform. Sometimes, I have to use a power wheelchair.
Hot And Cold Compresses
Hot and cold treatments can help during flare-ups, but how you use them depends on your needs. A hot compress is used to relax muscles and lubricate joints to relive stiffness, while a cold compress is to reduce swelling and inflammation.
Using heat before activity is worthwhile, and cold therapy should be applied afterwards if pain and inflammation occurs.
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If Your Toes Hurt You Might Not Suspect Arthritis As The Culprit But Arthritis Pain In Toes Is More Common Than You Think
When you think of arthritis, you might think of creaky knees, stiff hips, or painful, swollen fingers. Yes, arthritis commonly attacks joints in the hands, knees, and hips. But it can happen anywhere you have joints including the toes. So, if you cant bend your big toe or have swelling around your toes, this toe pain may be caused by arthritis too.
Toe arthritis can be caused by wear and tear of the cartilage in your toe joints, as well as inflammation of the toe joints. Arthritis most often attacks the big toe, but the other toes may be affected, too. Learn more about what causes toe arthritis and how it is treated.
What Causes Toe Arthritis
Everything from past injuries , osteoarthritis, gout, or rheumatoid arthritis can lead to toe arthritis.
Common forms of toe arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Lets more closely examine these and other damaging types.
Rheumatoid arthritis is often hereditary and can affect the entire body. This type of arthritis causes the foot arches to collapse and result in stiffness and swelling in the foot. As a result, the toes are generally forced into an uncomfortable, constricted position. Its the most common type of inflammatory arthritis and people who have it will often notice symptoms in the feet and toes.
Osteoarthritis can affect any of the joints in the foot, but it commonly causes arthritis in the big toe at the metatarsophalangeal, or MTP joint. The MTP joint is located at the bottom of the big toe. Toe arthritis can lead to the erosion of cartilage and cause stiffness and pain in the toe. When OA occurs in toes, its usually referred to as hallux rigidus.
Psoriatic arthritis: Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that affects the skin. In some cases, it can move to the joints where it can affect the toes. Sometimes, psoriasis affects the joints before it spreads to the skin, but that is rather uncommon. If you believe you have psoriatic arthritis, early diagnosis is very important in stopping potential joint damage.
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How Ra Drugs May Affect The Nervous System
Common drugs used to treat RA may affect the nervous system. For example, steroid treatment can be linked to impaired thinking, hypomania , and depression. Methotrexate, a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug , may cause headaches or problems with concentration.7-10
Some DMARDs, such as sulfasalazine or leflunomide, may lead to peripheral neuropathy . TNF-inhibitors, which may be known as biologic drugs, are known to lead to demyelinating disorders, such as multiple sclerosis or Guillain-Barré syndrome. These can result in life-threatening paralysis. Though these conditions may be possible, they are rare.7-10
Reduced Ranged Of Motion
In early RA, the joints are only mildly restricted. As RA advances, limited range of motion results from swelling and weakness in the joints.
Joint movement becomes harder, and balance is affected. The reduced range of motion might also cause limping and losses of coordination, grip, and dexterity, even in the early stages.
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Tips To Relieve Or Avoid Foot Pain
In addition to the right footwear, pain medications, and surgery, there are things you can do to reduce foot pain from rheumatoid arthritis:
Arthritis In Toes Is Manageable
Your toes contain joints that, like any others in your body, are not immune from arthritis. A variety of factors play a role in your risk for toe arthritis, but there are lifestyle and dietary adjustments you can make to reduce the chances youll get it.
If youve been having pain in your toe joint, speak to your doctor about potential causes and treatments.
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You Don’t Know What You Have Until You’ve Lost It
Then, one day, the pain is so bad that you find yourself completely disabled. When you’re suddenly unable to walk, so many unforeseen challenges crop up. How do you get to the restroom from your bed? How can you make yourself breakfast? How can you stand to clean yourself after using the toilet? You weren’t exactly expecting this sort of situation – just yesterday, and every day prior to that, you were just fine.
People who have rheumatoid arthritis can find this to be a reality. One day they are doing great; the next they are completely knocked down by the pain. It’s part of what it’s like to suffer from this chronic, autoimmune disease.
Is It Ra Or Osteoarthritis
When you first notice foot pain, you may wonder if it’s osteoarthritis . OA is also known as wear-and-tear arthritis, and it is more common than rheumatoid arthritis.
There is no clear-cut way to tell if you have OA or RA without a medical diagnosis. But OA and RA do have some key differences.
Usually affects both feet at once
Morning stiffness generally lasts longer than half an hour
Most often affects only one foot
Stiffness tends to be easier to relieve in the morning, often getting better in less than half an hour or with a few minutes of stretching
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Diagnosing Arthritis In Feet What To Expect At Your Doctors Office
To diagnosis arthritis, your doctor will ask you a series of questions about your symptoms, such as where and when the pain began, how often it occurs, and whether it is worse at night or when walking. Your doctor will also ask about past injuries to the foot, and what type of shoes you wear.
After a thorough medical history and physical examination, your doctor may perform a gait analysis, which evaluates how you walk, measures stride, and tests the strength of the ankles and feet. Additional tests may include:
How Is Plantar Fasciitis Related To Arthritis
The arch of the foot is responsible for distributing the bodys weight properly and absorbing the impact of physical activity. When this arch deteriorates or becomes inflamed through injury or overuse, Plantar Fasciitis often develops.
Many forms of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis, can make a person more susceptible to developing Plantar Fasciitis. The fatty pad of the heel that helps protect and cushion the plantar fascia may erode or shift as rheumatoid arthritis progresses. In other cases, structures in the ankles, calves, and legs that support the arch may erode or shift, placing additional strain and impact on the arch. And the hallmark inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis can lead to small tears and degradation of the plantar fascia itself, causing the arch to flatten and fall.
Since individuals who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis may suffer from a whole host of aches and pains throughout the body, heel pain is often dismissed as yet another symptom of RA. However, by recognizing the symptoms of plantar fasciitis for what they are, its possible to support and cushion the compromised arch and make walking and moving much less painful.
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How Different Forms Of Arthritis Can Affect Your Feet
According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly one-fourth of American adults have some form of foot pain, and the tendency to suffer from foot ailments increases as we age.
If you have arthritis, your chances of having foot problems are increased still further. Many forms of arthritis can cause pain, stiffness and swelling in the heel, the joints and the ball of the foot. According to the Arthritis Foundation, 50 percent of Americans over the age of 65 suffer from arthritis foot pain.
In this article, we will look at how arthritis affects the foot and then at some strategies for handling the foot pain that comes with different forms of arthritis.
Joint Pain And Inflammation With Rheumatoid Arthritis
Inflamed joints can be eroded and leave a scarred joint; the ball of the foot then becomes a rough, bumpy bone, says Robert W. Lightfoot, MD, a professor of internal medicine in the division of rheumatology at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. “Active inflammation and eroded, damaged bones cause pain.”
What Increases The Risk Of Developing Arthritis In The Toe
Risk factors for toe arthritis include being overweight, age, family history, and even wearing high-heeled shoes!
- Genes: The anatomy of your foot is dependent on genetics, and if youve got flat feet or excessive pronation , you are at a higher risk for OA. The risk is heightened by the additional weight and pressure put on the big toe.
- Previous toe injuries: If your toe has been broken or sprained in the past, there is a greater risk for toe arthritis because the cartilage in the joint may be damaged.
- Age: Age is a risk factor for arthritis, and most cases are diagnosed after age 30.
- Work: If your job requires a lot of squatting or stress on the toe joint, it could increase the risk.
- Other health problems: Other inflammatory conditions like RA, gout, or lupus can play a role.
Prevention Tips For Arthritis In Toes
While some factors behind toe arthritis cannot be controlled, there are a few steps you can take to reduce your chances of getting the painful condition.
Treat any injuries: Injuries play a role in toe arthritis, so be sure to get proper treatment if needed. You can protect yourself from injury by wearing shoes with toe protection when needed, picking things up off your floor, and walking with care.
Keep your weight under control: Removing excess stress on the feet from body weight can help. Every one pound of scale weight adds about four pounds of stress to the knees, which impacts the joints in your feet.
Manage your blood sugar levels: People with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to have arthritis as those who dont. People with high blood sugar develop molecules that lead to stiff cartilage, while diabetics are also more prone to inflammation.
Stay active: Regular exercise helps strengthen muscles and relieve stress from joints. It also promotes circulation and helps keep joints limber, so shoot for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day.
Signs And Symptoms Of Ra
You might find that pain is affecting both your feet in the same locations. For some people, the ankles hurt the most and might appear swollen. You might feel other symptoms as well.
Patients complain of pain in the toe joints, ligaments, or ankles mainly upon arising from bed. It is associated with joint swelling, redness, and warmth. Rheumatoid nodules can also develop. This can lead to joint deformities and widening of the forefoot, necessitating an increase in shoe size, explains Maya Mattar, MD, a rheumatologist at the Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Administration Medical Center in Ohio. Dr. Mattar adds that the pain and stiffness may be worse in the morning, forcing you to get up an hour or more early in order to prepare yourself for the day.
A study published in the July 2018 issue of Journal of Foot and Ankle Research;compiled the recommendations of a panel of 24 medical professionals and patients to diagnose and treat foot problems related to RA. Based on the foot issues, treatments include medication, exercise therapy, a variety of shoes, braces, and orthotics, or surgery.
Your rheumatologist can also prescribe you medications, called disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs , that control the inflammation and prevent joint damage, notes Mattar.
Exercising The Ankle Joints
Keeping the ankle joints mobile throughout the day can improve flexibility and range of motion in the area.
Exercises can be designed to ensure the ankles stay mobile but without adding too much strain and causing further damage.
Strengthening the muscles around the joints can also reduce further damage by providing extra support.
People can try specific exercises that stretch and strengthen the ankle joints to reduce pain, stiffness, and swelling, including:
- exercises to strengthen the foot and ankle muscles to relieve pressure on the joints
- stretches to alleviate stiffness in the tissue surrounding the ankles
Physical therapists can create exercises plans that they tailor for the individual. People will need to find out what exercises are best for their needs.
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Arthritis In The Big Toe
Arthritis in the big toealso called hallux rigidusis common. It typically affects the first metatarsophalangeal joint, which is located at the base of the big toe and connects the toe to the rest of the foot. Every time you take a step, this joint bears your body weight; arthritis in this joint can increasingly limit your ability to walk without pain.