Rheumatoid arthritis can affect the entire the body. There are overall treatments, but there are also non-surgical and surgical treatment options specifically for rheumatoid arthritis affecting the foot.
Non-Surgical Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis Foot Pain
For non-surgical treatment options, patients can try physical therapy, foot massage, footbaths, supportive shoes, orthotics, splinting/bracing, or steroid injections.
Physical therapy can help to stretch and strengthen the joints in the foot and ankle, which can help to improve joint function. Physical therapy lowers the risk of future deformity in the foot and can also improve a patient’s ability to walk and stay active.
Foot massages help to maintain the pliability of the tendons and soft tissues in the foot. They also encourage blood circulation.
Footbaths should alternate between cold and warm water. This helps to stimulate circulation in the foot. Cold footbaths also have the additional benefit of lowering inflammation and swelling (a cold compress can also be used to do this).
Wearing shoes that are comfortable and supportive help to make walking easier. There are also orthotics, which can relieve the pressure on the foot, making standing and walking less painful.
When a foot is splinted or braced, the joints are stabilized. Splinting and bracing can also help to limit further deformity.
Steroid injections help to reduce pain and inflammation. Do not overuse these injections as they will cause further soft tissue damage. Steroid injections should only be used on a short-term basis.
Surgery for Rheumatoid Arthritis Foot Pain
Surgery is usually only considered for those who can’t walk without pain and for those whose foot and/or deformities can’t be corrected with accommodative shoes or braces.
The goals of surgery are to relieve foot pain, fix the physical deformity, improve the function of the foot (making standing and walking more comfortable), and increasing the shoe options available to patients.
Speak to your doctor to find out what is the best option for you.
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