Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition in which your body's immune system attacks the tissues in your joints, leading to inflammation and pain. If you are diagnosed with this condition, your care will be overseen, for the most part, by a rheumatologist — a doctor who specializes in rheumatoid arthritis and similar autoimmune diseases. However, if your feet and ankles are heavily impacted, which is quite common, you may also be referred to a podiatrist for additional care. What care might the podiatrist recommend and provide? Take a look.
Orthotics are special shoe inserts that are designed to change the way your shoe fits, and also to change the way you bear weight on your feet. Your podiatrist will probably watch you walk and observe how you are bearing weight and moving your feet, and then they will have custom orthotics made based on this assessment and on your foot shape. You'll be asked to wear the orthotics daily. While they will not make your rheumatoid arthritis go away, they will reduce strain on your ankles to reduce the pain, and they'll make it easier to get around when you're having a flare-up.
Sometimes if you're having flare-up or if the cartilage in your ankle has become very worn due to ongoing arthritis, your podiatrist may give you a steroid injection. These are not the same steroids that bodybuilders use; they are corticosteroids, which help promote healing and reduce swelling. The steroids will be injected directly into your ankle joint. The injection will be uncomfortable, but most patients find that they experience profound relief within a day or two, and that relief lasts for several months. When the steroids wear off, your podiatrist can administer another injection.
In the most advanced states of rheumatoid arthritis, the cartilage can become almost completely worn away from the ankle joint, which leads to serious pain during walking and standing. When you reach this stage, your podiatrist may recommend fusion surgery. This is a surgical procedure that involves fusing to ankle bones together so that they no longer move past one another. While your range of motion will be decreased post-surgery, your pain should be greatly diminished.
If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis that affects your ankles, there is great benefit to seeing a podiatrist. They won't be able to cure your disease, but they can make your feet less painful!Share