Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation in the joints. There is a gradual degeneration of the joints due to which patients with RA may develop foot deformities over time.
RA occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks soft tissues, cartilage or bones in the same manner as it attacks bacteria and viruses. Tenderness, swelling and stiffness in the joints, loss of range of motion and joint deformity are symptoms of the disease.
RA is different from osteoarthritis in that it affects the lining of the joints which causes deformities over time. Being unique to each patient, treatment programmes are highly personalised to cater to every individual’s condition. While the disease can occur at any age, it generally develops between the ages of 30 and 50 years.
Rheumatoid arthritis in the feet is common, and foot deformities like hammertoes, bunions, and in some cases, flat feet, can be secondary conditions due to gradual erosion of joints. As a result of this, the function of the big toe may be compromised which decreases its weightbearing capacity. This leads to excess weight and stress being placed on the other joints.
This excessive stress can cause the other toes to deviate from their normal position towards the outer side of the foot.
The impact of foot deformities can be worse in the presence of a weak foot posture such as flat feet.
Additionally, in some cases, the combination of stress, joint deformity and tenderness in the bottom of the foot may lead to the development of flat feet. Flat feet cause an uneven distribution of pressure in the foot with more stress directed towards the forefoot. This could contribute to the degeneration of joints and make walking difficult for individuals.
There is a high risk of foot damage associated with RA; it is essential to get an early diagnosis so that appropriate treatment can be provided to protect the joints from any further damage.
Individualised active care programmes provided by health care professionals can include medications, low-impact exercises, recommendations for proper footwear and customised foot insoles.
MASS4D® insoles support the feet in their corrected posture, helping improve the distribution of weight to the feet in order to reduce pressure on the bottom of the foot. This allows the big toe to function to its healthiest level, helping improve the patient’s walking stride and reducing excess weight from the other toes.
By improving foot function and minimising unhealthy foot movements, MASS4D® can help minimise the development foot deformities that can greatly affect their ability to walk.
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Reference: Brooks F., Hariharan K. (2013) The rheumatoid forefoot. Current Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine: December 2013, Vol. 6, No.4, pp. 320-327
Reference: Bartok B., Firestein S. G. (2011) Fibroblast-like synoviocytes: key effector cells in rheumatoid arthritis. Immunological Reviews: January 2010, Vol. 233, No. 1, pp. 233-255
Reference: Bouysset M., Tourne Y., Tillmann K. (2006) Foot and ankle in rheumatoid arthritis. Springer Science & Business Media: 2007, Vol. 1, pp. 111-121, DOI 10.1007/2-287-30558-0
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