If you suffer from Rheumatoid arthritis, chances are you’re already scheduling regular appointments with a chiropodist. And if you aren’t, you may be overdue. This serious condition requires assistance and guidance from a healthcare professional.
That said, it’s truly amazing what practicing foot care on your own time can help you achieve. The two main goes of foot care for people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are pain management and avoiding complications.
Today we will discuss how lifestyle factors such as shoe choices and exercises can help you structure your life around RA with less discomfort. But first, let’s break down everything we’ll discuss today:
- What is Rheumatoid arthritis?
- Best shoes for Rheumatoid arthritis
- Rheumatoid arthritis and exercises
- Additional foot care practices for RA
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease that wreaks havoc on your joints by mistakenly targeting the body’s healthy cells, leading to inflammation. It most commonly affects the feet, hands, wrists and knees.
It’s critical to take Rheumatoid arthritis seriously. If you don’t pay attention to foot care and neglect regular check-ups, you may be putting yourself at risk of developing complications. These include osteoporosis, an increased body mass index (BMI), heart and lung problems, and a compromised immune system that leaves you more vulnerable to infections.
Click here to read more on RA, including symptoms, treatments from a chiropodist, and helpful medications.
Best Shoes for Rheumatoid Arthritis
One way to practice foot care and pain management with RA is to be extremely vigilant about your shoes.
Medical News Today notes that people with RA should look for shoes with a wide-toe box, rocker bottoms and cushioning with arch support. Adjustable straps and breathable materials can also be beneficial to maximize comfort levels.
- Rocker bottoms: Also called rocker soles, this shoe feature can reduce pain and help with mobility and activity limitation in RA patients. They are designed to reduce pressure under the ball of the foot and excessive toe motion.
- Wide toe box: Rheumatoid arthritis can lead to foot deformities in the form of severe bunions, claw toes and hammertoes. It can also cause severely flat feet, and a widened forefoot, sometimes called splay foot. Rheumatoid nodules (firm bumps of tissue) can also pop up anywhere along the affected area. Wearing shoes with a wide toe box is imperative for maintaining a certain comfort level and accommodating these deformities.
- Adjustable straps: When you have Rheumatoid arthritis, having more room in the entire shoe to accommodate stiff joints and deformities can be a major plus.
- Breathable materials: A 2019 study highlighting important features of retail shoes for women with RA found that breathable materials (such as soft mesh uppers) were crucial for most patients.
- Cushioning and arch support: The same study reported that most women found shoes with adequate rearfoot and forefoot cushioning most comfortable. Women said the same about longitudinal arch support.
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Exercise
An exercise routine can help most people with arthritis in the lower extremities. We’re not talking about exerting energy levels you aren’t comfortable with or practicing difficult workouts and training. We know that mobility constraints will always be an issue.
Exercises should simply work the muscles in your feet and lower half to prevent atrophy from a lack of use and help with pain management and mobility.
Here are some multi-purposeful exercises that can also help with RA:
Be sure to also check out our two-part series on the best exercises for arthritis!
Additional Foot Care Practices for RA
- The RICE Method: Sometimes, your pain may flare up to the point where all you can do is be patient and wait until it passes. Luckily the magical combination of rest, ice (or heat), compression, and elevation can help you accommodate severe pain and swelling.
- Summer footwear: During the warm months, wear sandals with open toes.
- Warmth: Keep your feet as warm as possible, as cold air can worsen joint pain. A heating pad can also be very helpful for loosening stiff muscles.
- Foot baths: The warm water in foot baths can loosen up stiff joints. Try adding Gehwol foot bath products for added comfort!
- Meditation: Stress can often trigger RA flare-ups, so reducing anxiety via healthy, quiet rumination can be a wonderful preventative measure. Other stress-reducing lifestyle habits include taking walks (when physically able) and listening to soothing music.