Bodies change as they age. It’s fairly common to notice some stiffness in joints at times, particularly as you get older. Not all arthritis is the same , however. There are many varieties of the condition. One of the more serious and deforming kinds is rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is just one of many conditions that causes inflammation damage in the joints. Unlike varieties of arthritis that develop out of wear and tear or after serious injuries, however, this condition is an autoimmune disease that affects joints all over your body. No one knows exactly what causes the disease to start. Your immune system begins attacking the protective linings that help lubricate your joints for movement. The tissues swell, become inflamed, and damage the bone and supportive structures around them.
Over time your tendons, ligaments, bones, nerves, and even blood vessels are damaged. You can develop serious deformities that make it challenging to walk or even wear normal shoes. Your toes and ankles may grow more difficult to move. You might develop pain in your arch as well. The affected joints will swell and may appear red. Often they feel warm to the touch. You may notice some general fatigue, too. Sometimes these symptoms can flare up for a period of time. Since this is an autoimmune disease, there is no way to completely eliminate the problem. You don’t have to just accept it and suffer with the condition, though. You can take care of your feet and relieve some of the pain.
Controlling the Condition, Reliving the Pain
Dr. Paul C. LaFata will carefully examine your lower limbs to diagnose your rheumatoid arthritis. Our staff will need to rule out other possible problems to provide you with accurate care. Most likely we will use diagnostic images to check for changes in your joints and damage to the surrounding tissues. Once the problem has been confirmed, we will help you begin managing the disease.
You’ll need to do what you can to reduce the damaging inflammation. Some medications decrease the irritation and swelling in your tissues. Icing your feet can help, too. Avoid hard-impact activities that subject your joints to heavy pounding and pressure. Supporting and cushioning your feet will help reduce the strain on your lower limbs as well. Most likely you’ll need to change your footwear or wear orthotics to help with stabilization and absorbing shock efficiently. You might also need physical therapy to help you maintain your range of motion and joint flexibility.
If your rheumatoid arthritis progresses, conservative methods may not be enough to alleviate your discomfort. In that case, invasive or surgical treatments may be your best option. Direct injections of anti-inflammatory medication may help reduce the painful swelling. Surgical procedures can clean out the damaged tissue and offer some relief as well. Sometimes repairing the soft tissues around the joint is enough to relieve some discomfort. Other cases may need to have the joint replaced or even fused.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful disease that can affect your lower limbs and make them uncomfortable and difficult to use. Over time, it can deform your feet and ruin your mobility. You don’t have to resign yourself to living with the pain, though. There are ways you can manage the discomfort and protect your lower limbs as much as possible. Let Dr. Paul C. LaFata and the staff at West Lawn Podiatry Associates in West Lawn, PA, help you. You can reach our office to make an appointment by calling (610) 678-4581 or by using the online contact form.