Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is diagnosed on the basis of a clinical examination as well as blood tests.
To further evaluate the patient’s foot and ankle problems, the Podiatrist may order x-rays and/or other imaging tests.
Treatment by the Podiatrist
While treatment of RA focuses on the medication prescribed by a patient’s primary doctor or rheumatologist, the Podiatrist will develop a treatment plan aimed at relieving the pain of RA-related foot problems. The plan may include one or more of the following options:
- Orthotic devices. The Podiatrist often fits the patient with custom orthotic devices to provide cushioning for rheumatoid nodules, minimize pain when walking, and give needed support to improve the foot’s mechanics.
- Accommodative shoes. These are used to relieve pressure and pain and assist with walking.
- Aspiration of fluid. When inflammation flares up in a joint, the Podiatrist may aspirate (draw out) fluid to reduce the swelling and pain.
- Steroid injections. Injections of anti-inflammatory medication may be applied directly to an inflamed joint or to a rheumatoid nodule.
When is Surgery Needed?
When RA produces pain and deformity in the foot that is not relieved through other treatments, surgery may be required. The foot and ankle Podiatrist will select the procedure best suited to the patient’s condition and lifestyle.