- You experience pain, inflammation, and stiffness in the joints of the foot, particularly the toes
- You experience aching feet, particularly after activity or long periods of standing
- Some parts of your foot may feel oddly warm to the touch or may emanate heat while the rest of the foot feels normal
- The joints of the toes and ankles may swell
What does RA do to the feet and ankles?
Along with painful joints and stiffness, you may also notice other changes to your feet over time. Some of these changes include,
- Hammertoes and claw toes
- Circulation issues (e.g. atherosclerosis; Raynaud’s phenomena)
Since RA is not curable, your podiatrist will focus on crafting a treatment plan that will help to alleviate your symptoms and slow the progression of the disease to prevent severe and irreparable joint damage. Prescription medications known as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are biologics that can reduce inflammation and prevent the progression of the disease.
Of course, there are also lifestyle changes you can make along with taking prescription medication that can also ease symptoms,
- Warm soaks
- Custom insoles or orthotics
- Pain relievers
- Stretching exercises for the feet
- Steroid injections (for targeting severe inflammation)
Most people with RA will eventually develop foot and ankle problems, which is why it’s important to have a podiatrist on your team that can help you manage your RA effectively.
If you have high arches, you may notice them but not experience any problems; however, those with high arches bear more weight on the balls and heels of the feet. Over time, you may develop corns, calluses, hammertoes, painful calf muscles, or foot pain. If you have high arches, a podiatrist can provide you with a variety of ways to support your feet to prevent these problems.
Consider wearing custom orthotics
Orthotics are special devices that are placed inside the shoes to improve stability and to cushion the foot. These devices can reduce shock absorption while standing, walking, or running. While there are over-the-counter orthotics that you can buy, they aren’t specifically designed to fit your feet or treat the issues you’re dealing with.
A podiatrist can provide you with custom-fitted orthotics that can help to support the arches of your feet and distribute weight more evenly among the foot to prevent heel pain and pain in the ball of the foot.
Wear shoes that support your feet
You must be also wearing shoes that can accommodate your high arches, especially if you are on your feet most of the day or participate in physical activities. Those with high arches are prone to stress fractures and ankle sprains, and you must consider shoes that have,
- A high top that can cushion and support the ankles
- A spacious toe box that won’t put pressure on the toes or cause irritation to preexisting deformities such as hammertoes or bunions
- A midsole that has added cushioning to reduce pressure
- A high-abrasion rubber outsole that will provide more durability (especially important for running shoes and athletic footwear)
Talk to your podiatrist about bracing
In some cases, your podiatrist may also recommend bracing the feet and ankles to help stabilize them and provide additional support. If your podiatrist has told you that you also have a drop foot, which means that you have trouble lifting the front of your foot, then bracing may also be a great way to manage this problem and provide a more natural and comfortable gait when walking.
While high arches alone aren’t a cause for concern it can be good to know about potential issues that it can cause along the way so you can take the necessary precautions now to protect your feet. If you are dealing with foot pain or other problems, a podiatrist can help.
Do I really have poor circulation in my feet?
It isn’t always easy to notice the warning signs of bad circulation. After all, it’s normal to feel a lack of sensation in your feet during cold winter days or to notice some aching and tiredness when standing for long periods of time; however, signs of poor circulation in the feet include:
- A “pins and needles” sensation in your feet
- Changes in the color of your feet
- Cold feet
- Numbness or tingling
What causes poor circulation in the feet?
There are many reasons that people may develop poor circulation in their feet as they get older. Some causes can’t be helped but others are due to health conditions or bad habits. Causes of poor circulation include:
- Age: As we get older most people will deal with some degree of decreased blood flow.
- Inactive lifestyle: If you lead a sedentary lifestyle you are more likely to deal with blood flow issues, especially as you get older. We see this most often in seniors who have mobility issues and can’t stay active.
- Overweight or obese: Being overweight or obese also puts a lot of stress on the body, causing the heart to work harder to pump out blood to the rest of the body including the feet.
- Smoking: Smoking restricts blood flow, which makes it more difficult for blood to reach the feet. Smoking can also increase your risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and peripheral artery disease (PAD).
- Diabetes: Diabetes can increase your risk for inflammation, poor circulation, and even nerve damage in the feet (known as neuropathy). You must work with your doctor and a podiatrist to control your blood sugar to reduce your risk.
- Pain at the ball of the foot near the big toe
- Pain when bending or straightening the big toe
- Pain that comes up gradually
How is sesamoiditis treated?
The good news is that this inflammatory condition can be treated with rest and home care designed to ease the inflamed tendon or muscle. At-home care for sesamoiditis looks like:
- Avoiding any activities that put pressure on the foot
- Taking a pain reliever such as ibuprofen to reduce pain and swelling
- Wearing supportive shoes with ample cushioning
- Applying ice to the foot for 10-15 minutes every few hours
- Avoiding shoes with pointed toes or high heels
If you are experiencing severe or persistent foot pain, you must seek podiatry care from a qualified foot and ankle specialist. Foot pain should not go ignored. Call your podiatrist today.
Clean Feet Daily
It’s easy for our feet, just like the rest of our bodies, to pick up bacteria and fungus. Washing your feet with soap and water every day can help to remove these germs to prevent infections. Just remember to always dry your feet off thoroughly after bathing to reduce your risk for fungal infections. While you can do this at any time of the night, bathing and washing your feet in the evening could help you relax prior to bedtime.
Keep Feet Moisturized
You may notice that as you get older your skin also gets drier. While staying hydrated will certainly help to keep skin supple and moisturized, it’s also a good idea to apply a moisturizer to your feet to prevent cracking or broken skin (which can lead to infection). Once you’ve applied moisturizer to the feet it’s a good idea to cover the feet with socks made from breathable material such as cotton.
Trim Nails Properly
If you neglect to trim nails regularly you may find that long nails are prone to fungal infections and ingrown toenails. If you are able to trim nails yourself you will want to trim them so they are level with the tips of the toes (any lower and you could risk an ingrown toenail). Always trim nails straight across, never curve the edges of the nails. If you are having trouble trimming your own nails you can turn to a podiatrist for proper foot care.
Wear Appropriate Footwear
With all the changes that occur to your feet as you get older, it’s particularly important that you wear the proper footwear that will provide additional support and cushioning. It’s also important that you have your feet properly measured (best done in the afternoon when feet are at their largest due to swelling) and shoes fitted by a specialist. If you are dealing with blisters, calluses, and sore feet then you’ll want to talk with your podiatrist about getting different shoes or about getting custom orthotics/arch support.
Fungal infections, bunions and ingrown toenails can appear almost instantly, so having a podiatrist that you can turn to for regular care and treatment can provide you with peace of mind. Talk with your podiatrist about how to keep your aging feet feeling young and healthy.
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