Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can attack many areas of the body, including feet. Learn how to recognize symptoms of RA in the feet and treat the symptoms. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects many joints throughout the body, including the feet. RA is an autoimmune disease; it develops when your immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues. RA in the feet
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects many joints throughout the body, including the feet. RA is an autoimmune disease; it develops when your immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues. RA in the feet causes pain, swelling, limited movement, and difficulty with everyday tasks.
This article discusses RA in the feet, including the symptoms, complications, and treatment.
There are 26 bones, 30 joints, and more than 100 supporting soft tissues in each of your feet. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect any or all of these joints. In fact, more than 90% of people with RA will have symptoms that affect their feet.
Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation that affects the soft tissues and bones in the joints of your feet, causing pain, swelling, reddened and/or warm skin, and limited movement.
Tissues such as cartilage (padding between your bones), ligaments (connecting bone to bone), tendons (connecting muscles to bones), and the joint capsule (tissue that encloses the entire joint) are broken down by the body's immune system.
You'll likely have difficulty walking and standing for long periods of time as the disease progresses. RA affects both feet at the same time, making standing tasks even more difficult.
As rheumatoid arthritis in the feet progresses, deformities often develop. These include:
RA can also affect circulation to your feet from damage to your blood vessels. Nerve damage can also occur, leading to tingling or "foot falling asleep" sensations.
RA flare-ups can be triggered by:
Rheumatoid arthritis is a "whole-body" condition. Some treatments are aimed at your overactive immune system, while others target the symptoms in your feet. Treatment includes medications, home remedies, and sometimes surgery.
Medications called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, or DMARDs, are commonly used to suppress the overactive immune system in people with RA. These drugs can eventually help decrease symptoms in your feet, but it can take several months for them to be effective.
Anti-inflammatory medications can help with foot symptoms during a flare-up, or periods of time when your symptoms are worse. These can include over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Aleve (naproxen) and Advil (ibuprofen), or prescription-strength steroid medications for more severe symptoms.
Home remedies can significantly decrease pain caused by RA in your feet.
In some cases, surgery might be required to treat symptoms of RA in the feet—particularly if you have deformities.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation throughout the body. RA commonly affects the joints, including your feet. Symptoms include pain, swelling, warmth, red skin, difficulty walking, and foot deformities. Treatment includes medications, home remedies, and sometimes surgery.
Rheumatoid arthritis in your feet can make every step you take painful and frustrating. However, help is available. See a physical therapist for individualized exercise instructions and tips for making walking easier. If your medications aren't effective, talk to your healthcare provider about other options. Consider joining a support group for encouragement and additional tips for improving your quality of life.
Elevate your legs for 20 minutes at a time to help reduce swelling in your feet from RA. Wear compression socks during the day, especially if you spend a lot of time walking or standing.
Walking can increase circulation in your feet if you have RA. However, it can also increase your pain. Try walking in a pool to reduce pressure on your feet.
RA in the feet causes pain, swelling, redness, warmth, stiffness, weakness, and sometimes deformities.