Therapy For Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

Health & Medical Blog

You're dealing with rheumatoid arthritis and it's having noticeable negative effects on your feet. Consider adding a foot doctor to your health care team, as conservative podiatry treatment may help you relieve foot pain and swelling, and even prevent joint damage. A foot doctor also can perform surgery to improve the results of joint damage, if you ever do need to have this done. 

Orthotic Devices

You may know somebody who wears shoe inserts to manage problems due to flat feet or another issue with arch support. These orthotic devices are available without a prescription, but custom-designed ones are advisable for best results. Each one fits a specific foot and can serve a specific purpose.

For instance, custom inserts can reduce pressure in the forefront of the feet, the area where many rheumatoid arthritis patients feel substantial pain. Customized orthotics can also provide arch support in the middle of the foot and stability at the heel and rear part of the foot. Some patients do well with a full-foot device that combines all these features. 

Foot doctors known as podiatrists design these orthotics; usually, technicians known as pedorthists manufacture them. 

Customized products cost more than over-the-counter versions, but they are worth the higher price. If you have health insurance, that should pay for the inserts. 

Relevant Research

A study appearing in 2011 in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research found factors that lead to success for rheumatoid arthritis patients who wear orthotics. This research can indicate whether you'd be a good candidate for this strategy.

As may be expected, the sooner a patient begins wearing shoe inserts after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, the better the results are. Otherwise, some permanent joint deformity may have already occurred over time.

Younger participants generally did better than older patients with this conservative therapy during the study. Study participants with higher levels of pain and disability experienced the greatest levels of improvement. 

Additional Strategies

Wearing specialized shoes and braces may help prevent pain when you're standing for any length of time, walking or otherwise being active. You can be fitted for these by your foot doctor. The podiatrist also can make recommendations on the best types of footwear when you don't want to wear the specialized shoes. 

Surgical Intervention

Unfortunately, conservative treatment does not work for everyone. If your foot problems continue to worsen, your podiatrist can perform surgery to resolve pain you experience when standing or walking. It's important to continue being active so you don't gain weight, which puts additional pressure on your joints. Exercise also strengthens your muscles, which then can better support your joints. In addition, exercise helps keep your joints more flexible.

What Can You Do Now? 

Set an appointment with a foot doctor, one like Pinker & Associates, for an evaluation. Learn which types of orthotic devices are likely to help. Once you begin wearing these customized inserts, you should experience substantial improvements in levels of pain and function. 


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