What is Rheumatoid Arthritis in the Foot and Ankle?


Rheumatoid arthritis is when certain cells of the immune system work incorrectly and cause inflammation in the lining of joints, most often in the hands and feet.

In some people, this chronic inflammation creates damage to the cartilage and bones in the joint. This problem can lead to permanent joint destruction, deformity, and disability.

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis in the Foot and Ankle

Foot problems caused by rheumatoid arthritis often happen in the ball of the foot, near the toes. The most common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are pain, swelling, joint stiffness, and problems walking.

Deformities and conditions associated with rheumatoid arthritis may include:

  • Rheumatoid lumps
    (which cause pain when they rub against shoes)
  • Hammertoes
  • Bunions
  • Heel pain
  • Achilles tendon pain
  • Flatfoot
  • Ankle pain

Diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis in the Foot and Ankle

Rheumatoid arthritis is diagnosed via an examination by an experienced foot and ankle doctor, as well as blood tests. The foot and ankle doctor may order x-rays and/or other imaging tests.

Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis in the Foot and Ankle

While treatment of rheumatoid arthritis focuses on the medication prescribed by a patient's primary doctor, a foot and ankle surgeon can develop a treatment plan aimed at relieving the pain of rheumatoid arthritis in the foot and ankle.

The plan may include one or more of the following options:

  • The foot and ankle surgeon often fits the patient with custom orthotic devices to provide cushioning for rheumatoid nodules and minimize pain.
  • Accommodative shoes are used to relieve pain and assist with walking.
  • When inflammation flares up in a joint, a foot and ankle surgeon may draw out fluid to reduce the swelling and pain.
  • Steroid injections of anti-inflammatory medication may be used on an inflamed joint or to a rheumatoid lump.

Surgical Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis in the Foot and Ankle

When rheumatoid arthritis produces pain and deformity in the foot that is not relieved through other treatments, surgery may be required. The foot and ankle surgeon will select the procedure best suited for the patient.

Please call (626) 447-2184 (Arcadia) or (818) 408-2800 (San Fernando) to speak to a foot and ankle specialist about your foot and/or ankle needs.

Foot & Ankle Pain Is Not Normal

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I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your medical assistance in the speedy recovery of my right foot. The best foot care in Los Angeles!

I highly recommend Dr. Khosroabady. About 8 years ago I injured my ankle. Even though I went to a number of different doctors and did physical therapy, it never healed completely.

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