Arthritic Deformities

Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Foot and Ankle

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic disease that attacks multiple joints throughout the body. About 90% of the people with rheumatoid arthritis eventually develop symptoms related to the foot or ankle. Usually, symptoms appear in the toes and forefeet first, then in the hindfeet or the back of the feet, and finally in the ankles.

Other inflammatory types of arthritis that affect the foot and ankle include gout, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, and Reiter's syndrome.

The exact cause of RA is unknown, but there are several theories. Some people may be more likely to develop RA because of their genes. However, it usually takes a chemical or environmental "trigger" to activate the disease. In RA, the body's immune system turns against itself. Instead of protecting the joints, the body produces substances that attack and inflame the joints.

Signs & Symptoms:

Common symptoms consists of the following:

  • Foot pain
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Pain in joints or in the sole of the foot
  • Joint may be warm
  • Walking can be affected
  • May develop corns or bunions
  • Your toes can begin to curl and stiffen called claw toe or hammertoe