What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory auto-immune disorder that affects the joints, causing chronic inflammation and potential damage to other organs and tissues. In contrast to osteoarthritis, which is associated with age-related degeneration, rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any age, including childhood when it is referred to as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease with significant implications for foot and ankle health. The development of joint deformities can be aggressive, and irreversible if early intervention is not taken. This can affect mobility and quality of life, leading to deformity or potential disability.

Statistics indicate that over 90% of individuals diagnosed with RA experience symptoms in these lower extremities.1 While research suggests a lower prevalence of RA in Asian populations, awareness of its potential impact on the feet remains vital.2

Causes and Risk Factors of Rheumatoid Arthritis

While the causes for Rheumatoid Arthritis remain undetermined, there are several risk factors associated with an increased likelihood of developing the disease. These include:

  • Having a family history of RA increases risk
  • Smoking
  • Possessing certain genetic markers
  • Gender

How can Rheumatoid Arthritis be managed?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be a challenging condition, affecting not only joints but also causing complications like skin irritation, painful corns and calluses, and even ulcers. Additionally, inflammation of blood vessels (vasculitis) can lead to rashes and decreased blood supply.

While there's no cure for RA, podiatric care plays a crucial role in managing its impact on your feet and overall well-being. The primary goal is to minimise pain, prevent further joint damage, and maintain healthy foot function.

Your podiatrist can help you in the following:

  • Addressing Abnormalities: Podiatrists assess and address joint, foot, and posture abnormalities that contribute to pain and deformity progression. This may involve exercises, stretching, and gait analysis.
  • Custom Orthotics and Devices: Customized orthotics, in-shoe devices, and supportive footwear can provide much-needed joint stabilisation, offload pressure from high-impact areas, and help realign your feet for improved function.
  • Pain Management: Advanced therapies like shockwave therapy and EMTT can offer effective pain relief and reduce joint damage during flare-ups.

It is important for individuals with suspected rheumatoid arthritis to consult a foot specialist promptly for a proper diagnosis and management. Physical exam such as X-rays, blood tests, and joint fluid analysis may be required for an accurate diagnosis.

Seeking early podiatric intervention can significantly reduce pain, prevent joint deformities, and delay disease progression. This allows individuals with rheumatoid arthritis to maintain good health, function, and perform daily activities pain-free for longer.

1 https://www.footcaremd.org/conditions-treatments/midfoot/rheumatoid-arthritis-of-the-foot-and-ankle

2 https://journals.lww.com/clinorthop/Fulltext/1996/02000/The_Epidemiology_of_Hip_Osteoarthritis_and.11.aspx

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Common Symptoms

Pain and swelling in multiple joints
Joint stiffness
Weight loss

How It Looks Like

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My elderly mum had a fall and hurt her knee. Dr we saw at polyclinic gave some painkillers and told her to rest but she was still unable to walk properly. We saw Georgina, Ari and Millie at East Coast Podiatry and found that she has knee arthritis. Couple that with her fall, it’s no wonder she was in a lot of pain and limping. They managed my mum’s knee with EMTT and shockwave. She felt immediate relief after the first therapy, and got better each subsequent therapies. After 6 sessions and strengthening with the exercises they gave her to do at home, she felt zero pain. My mum said she likes coming to the clinic each week and appreciates the care provided by the professionals, it seems she’s even sad that she won’t get to come anymore now that she’s healed 😂. Thank you very much, and I would highly recommend the clinic for first-class treatment and service 👍🏼

Nuranis Mohamad

Our Podiatry Care Strategy

100% non-invasive methods to improve your ankle in 4-8 weeks

An ankle specialist, such as a podiatrist, will be able to perform a thorough foot assessment using diagnostic tools, such as a musculoskeletal diagnostic ultrasound to determine the source of your ankle pain. If surgery is required, your podiatrist will refer you to a trusted foot and ankle doctor for surgical solutions.

A thorough assessment of your ankle

Immobilising the area with splints

Utilising technological therapies

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Michael Lai
Principal Podiatrist

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