Our information on foot health

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Foreword by Ailsa Bosworth, CEO, NRAS

Something like 90% of people with Rheumatoid Arthritis experience pain and problems with their feet and footwear is a huge issue for many. As a consequence, we have decided to create this new foot health area on our website to give a real focus to feet and footwear, which we hope you will find really helpful. We’d also like to get input and feedback from you if you have found a service or a brand of footwear for example, that has really helped you or solved a problem for you so that we can add to our links in this section for the benefit of everyone.

It’s important to note here however, that today, with earlier diagnosis and more aggressive treatment from the outset, less foot and ankle damage and deformity is likely by comparison to people diagnosed between 20 and 30 years ago when treatment regimens were very different and of course we didn’t have the biologics available that we have today. So, today, being diagnosed with RA, one can be much more positive about the future and be able to lead a relatively normal life. Of course the earlier you are diagnosed and treated, the better and the more chance you have of sustaining less irreversible damage. You may not experience some or any of the foot health problems described in this section. However, we have tried to capture information and recommendations which will be of help to the whole population of people with RA, whether you are recently diagnosed or have lived with RA, like me, for many many years and experienced significant foot and ankle problems.

We are hugely grateful to Anita Williams and Andrea Graham, podiatrists from the School of Health Science at the University of Salford who have worked with me to create this new foot health area. We’d also like to acknowledge the contribution and input from:

Robert Field, BA (Hons), PG Dip, BSc (Hons), Community Health Services, Dorset HealthCare NHS University Foundation Trust

Dr Simon Otter, Principal Lecturer, School of Health Professions, University of Brighton

Frank Webb, Consultant Podiatric Surgeon, Hope Hospital, Salford 

And, grateful thanks of course to our members and volunteers who have contributed.

Ailsa Bosworth
NRAS Chief Executive

This section will cover the following topics which you can go directly to by clicking on the heading:

1. Introduction

2. The Foot and Rheumatoid Arthritis:

  • Musculoskeletal signs and symptoms in the feet
  • Skin and Nail problems
  • Circulation and nerve problems in the lower limb

3. Medications for RA and how they can affect the Feet

4. Who can look after my feet?

  • The Podiatrist’s Role
  • Range of Treatments used by podiatry
  • Accessing local chiropody/podiatry practitioners

5. I have problems with shoes – HELP!

  • Why are shoes so important?
  • What is the best footwear?
  • What shall I do when I am looking for the right shoes?
  • What do I look for in a good ‘every day’ shoe?
  • What do I do if I am struggling with fastenings on shoes?
  • Should I be wearing slippers around the house?
  • What do I do when it comes to ‘social footwear’?
  • What about insoles?
  • What are the options if I just can’t find retail shoes to fit?
  • The importance of footwear repair

6. Review of a new range of footwear for women with rheumatoid arthritis

7. Foot Surgery

8. Body image, feet, shoes

9. Case Studies/patient stories

10. Research

11. Links and Conclusion

Reviewed: 10/06/2019

References available on request