- Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that can make your feet and ankle joints hurt.
- When RA is in the foot, it can cause swelling, pain, and inflammation.
- There are a number of things you can try to help relieve foot pain caused by RA.
- In some cases, you may need surgery.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease that makes your immune system attack healthy cells. When rheumatoid arthritis affects your foot and ankle joints, it causes pain, inflammation, and swelling. Sometimes the pain is so bad that even putting on shoes is too much.
The good news is that you can manage your foot pain by keeping your rheumatoid arthritis under control. In this article, we’ll first look at why rheumatoid arthritis causes foot pain and then at some effective ways to relieve it. Let’s get into it!
What makes the feet hurt when you have rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis can cause inflammation in many of the body’s joints, and the feet are no exception. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) says that the lining of your joints, called synovium, gets too active when you have rheumatoid arthritis. This leads to inflammation and swelling. Over time, the joints, ligaments, and other parts of the foot that hold it together break down, which can make the foot hurt.
The source also says that deformed joints can be caused by ligaments that are too weak. Claw toe and hammertoe are two common problems with the foot.
Ways to deal with foot pain without surgery
Foot pain can not only make you feel weak, but it can also really mess up your day and keep you from getting things done. The good news is that there are ways to help you deal with the pain.
Some people may need surgery, but there are other ways to help relieve the pain. But your overall health, age, and way of life will determine whether non-surgical or surgical methods are best for you. This is why you should work with an expert. First, let’s look at some ways to relieve foot pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis that doesn’t involve surgery.
Invest in good shoes.
Getting good shoes is an important way to deal with foot pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis. High heels or shoes with narrow toes will hurt your feet and make the pain even worse. Everyday Health says this is because they cause the wearer to put pressure on the ball of the foot, which can lead to noticeable deformities.
The source says that when buying shoes, you should look for ones with a low heel, a wide toe, and good arch support. This will help you put the same amount of weight on each foot. Investing in orthotics might also help relieve foot pain.
Wear shoes indoors.
Do you usually leave your shoes at the front door and go barefoot inside? You might want to think again if you have rheumatoid arthritis.
Health Central says, “For most people with foot pain from RA, going barefoot can make the pain worse.” Try wearing shoes or sandals with good support inside and see if your foot pain goes away. It’s just as important to buy good shoes for the inside as it is for the outside.
Change Your Exercise Routine
Working out is an important part of living a healthy life. It keeps your muscles and joints strong and mobile, and as you get older, it can help you keep your independence. People with rheumatoid arthritis who have foot pain may need to change how they exercise.
People with rheumatoid arthritis might benefit from low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, and cycling. Your muscles and joints can still get stronger with these kinds of exercises, but your feet won’t have to work as hard. You might also want to talk to a physical therapist to find out what exercises you can do that won’t make your foot pain worse.
Pay attention to your feet.
Do you spend a lot of time taking care of your skin? You could try putting lotion on your hands. When it comes to taking care of yourself, your feet are often forgotten. But the truth is that taking care of your feet is one of the most important things you can do to help relieve (or even stop) foot pain.
You can start by giving your feet regular foot baths and massages. You can do these things yourself or hire a pro. Massage can help relieve pressure and pain in sore feet, while a warm foot bath can help relieve stiff joints. We’ll talk more about this next.
A Treatment of Cold and Hot
The Arthritis Foundation says that hot and cold treatments may also help with foot pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis. The source says that warm baths or heat pads can help loosen up stiff joints, but that cold therapy is best for severe pain and swollen joints. Both hot and cold foot baths can help get the blood moving in the feet.
Cheryl Crow is an occupational therapist who told Health Central that for 15 to 20 minutes, wrapping your feet in frozen pea bags and a thin towel can help. Crow says to wait until your skin’s temperature is back to normal before putting ice on it again. You can also make a cold bath by putting ice and water in a bucket. You can use hot therapy by putting hot packs on your sore feet and joints or taking a hot bath.
Does the pain in your foot start at the bottom of your foot? Health Central says that a tennis ball or spiky massage ball can help relieve pain in the heel, ball, or arch of the foot.
“Massage helps relax the muscles around your sore joints and brings more blood to them,” the source says. Some research shows that massage can have a therapeutic effect and may reduce inflammation in other parts of the body as well. Foot massages can help provide immediate relief.
Avoid Standing All Day
Taking a look at your daily habits is also an important part of managing foot pain. Does your job require you to stand all day? Or you might choose to stand up. No matter what, people with foot pain from rheumatoid arthritis should try their best not to stand all day.
When you stand for a long time, your feet get more pressure, which can make them hurt more. Instead, try to do different things at different times of the day so you can sit down and stand up. If you have to stand at work and can’t avoid it, you should at least buy a good pair of supportive shoes.
Keep your weight in a good range.
It’s important for your health to stay at a healthy weight. It can make you less likely to get heart disease, strokes, diabetes, high blood pressure, and many kinds of cancer. It turns out that keeping a healthy weight can also help reduce foot pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis.
Everyday Health says, “The more you weigh, the more likely it is that you will have foot joint pain, even if you don’t have rheumatoid arthritis.” Talk to your doctor to find out what a healthy weight is for you. Your doctor can help you figure out what your ideal weight is and give you tips on how to get there.
Work With a Podiatrist
You can take care of foot pain at home, but it’s also good to see a podiatrist. Podiatrists are doctors who specialize in treating problems with the feet and lower legs. They can help with a wide range of injuries and health problems. Your doctor might even suggest one.
The best orthotics for your shoes can be found with the help of a podiatrist. Even though they can be expensive, your health insurance may pay for some of them. A splint or brace may also be suggested. Arthritis Health says that these can help stabilize the foot and lessen mild to moderate pain.
Therapy for the body
You can also get help for your foot pain from a physical therapist. Arthritis Health says that physical therapy can “improve joint function by stretching and strengthening the joints in the foot and ankle.” The source also says that physical therapy may help make it less likely that your foot will get worse in the future.
Talk to your doctor about finding a good physical therapist near you. He or she may be able to give you a referral. You can also look for suggestions online, read reviews, or ask friends and family for help. Health Central says that a session of physical therapy could cost around $150, but the price will depend on where you live. You should also check to see if your health insurance will pay for (or pay for part of) your sessions.
When do you need surgery?
Sometimes, surgery is the only way to stop the pain. This is especially true if pain hurts too much. Arthritis Health also says that surgery may be needed for foot and toe deformities that can’t be fixed with supportive shoes or braces, like bunions, hammertoes, and nodules.
There are different kinds of surgery, such as joint replacement, fusion, and resection. The goal of surgery is to help fix the physical deformity, improve foot function so that walking and standing are more comfortable, and, of course, relieve foot pain. Your doctor will decide what kind of surgery is best for you, but it’s up to you if you want to go through with it. Work with your doctor to figure out if surgery is a good idea.