Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease. This means the immune system malfunctions and attacks normal cells, or in this case attacks healthy joints. RA causes inflammation in the joints in your entire body, especially in the hands and the feet. Swelling, redness, pain, and warmth around the joints are all signs that the joints are inflamed. Sometimes, chronic inflammation can damage the bones and cartilage in the joints. This can lead to serious damage which can result in deformities and disabilities.

RA can cause problems in all the different areas of the foot and ankle, although it commonly occurs in the ball of the foot, near the toes. Symptoms of RA in your foot or ankle are pain, stiffness in the joints, deformities, and walking difficulties.

There are many foot and ankle conditions that have been associated with RA. This includes:


RA is diagnosed with a combination of blood tests and clinical examination. To determine the extent of foot and ankle problems, Dr. Kovac may perform x-rays or other imaging tests.


A patient with Rheumatoid Arthritis will be treated for the disease by their Primary Doctor or Rheumatologist. However, to relieve the pain of RA- related foot problems, Dr. Kovac can develop a treatment plan that is most beneficial for you. This can include:


  • Orthotics – Custom orthotic devices can help cushion the foot, minimize pain, and give support.
  • Aspiration of fluid  Your Podiatrist may draw out fluid to reduce the swelling and pain when the inflammation flares up in a joint.
  • Steroid Injections – Anti-inflammatory medications may be injected into an inflamed joint or to a rheumatoid nodule.
  • Changing the type of shoes you wear – There are shoes that can be used to assist with walking and relieve pain and pressure.
  • Surgery- In some cases where the pain or deformities from RA are not relieved by other treatment methods, surgery may be required.

If you are experiencing any foot or ankle issues, please contact Dr. Kylin Kovac at Idaho Foot and Ankle Center. He can help determine the treatment plan that is right for you!

Content provided by The ACFAS.