Joint pain in the feet is rheumatoid arthritis feet one of the symptoms of early rheumatoid arthritis, and up to 90 percent of people with RA develop foot pain. Is Your Foot Pain a Symptom of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
However, if there were ever a good time to be diagnosed with this incurable illness, it’s now, as the treatment options available are the most advanced they have ever been—and they are allowing many people with RA who would have otherwise been destined for wheelchairs to live full and active lives. One of the early signs of rheumatoid arthritis is stiffness, pain, and swelling in the hands and feet. The onset is gradual for some and immediate for others, but regardless, most people with RA wake up one day and realize that the joints in the ball or sole of their feet are too painful to walk on. At the same time, they might also notice their fingers stiffen while trying to open a jar, or that they can’t bend certain finger joints while cooking because it’s too painful. As the disease progresses, pain and stiffness may spread to the wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, ankles, and hips.
With RA, the immune system attacks the body’s own joint tissues, resulting in inflammation, which can cause progressive damage to affected joints. Specifically, the immune system attacks the fluid within joints as well as the joint lining, known as the synovium. The synovium becomes acutely inflamed, causing a warm and swollen joint. Continued inflammation, especially if left untreated, eventually thickens the synovium and causes cartilage and bone to erode, which leads to joint deformity and decreased range of motion. In addition, the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that surround and stabilize the joints may become weak. Many people experience periods of increased symptoms, referred to as flares, followed by less disease activity or even periods of remission, a state of no pain, stiffness, or swelling. What Parts of the Foot Are Affected by RA?
RA may also cause shifting of the forefoot and loss of stability, which leads to toe contractures, such as hammertoes. All of these changes to a foot’s structure and shape can make finding a comfortable shoe more difficult for an RA sufferer. Other joints of the foot that can be affected by RA include the ankle joint and the talonavicular joint, which is part of the foot’s arch. RA and the joint symptoms are generally symmetrical, occurring on both sides of the body equally.
Another feature that distinguishes RA from OA is the tendency for RA to cause a longer period of morning stiffness. An RA sufferer will often experience stiffness in affected joints for one or more hours after awakening, compared with an OA sufferer, whose joint stiffness may diminish after a few minutes of stretching or motion in the morning. This is a common recurring problem for people with RA and can occur at the back of the heel or on the underside. Achilles tendonitis, and retrocalcaneal bursitis.