Although rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can affect almost any joint, the smaller joints of the hands and feet seem to be especially vulnerable. If you are dealing with RA-related foot pain, making changes to your shoes and foot care could help.
Invest In Your Shoes
As you experience changes in your feet, you may have different needs when shopping for your next pair of shoes. Try to find shoes that are wider, which can accommodate swelling. In some cases, if you already have wider feet, you might need to visit specialty shoe stores to find extra-wide shoes. A specialty shoe store might be necessary to find shoes with a deeper toe box, which can accommodate deformities, such as claw toe. Although it may feel more comfortable to wear shoes that are soft, with flexible soles, these types of shoes often make problems worse. You need adequate support in your soles to support various structures in your feet, which may eventually weaken with RA. Also, since your feet are inflamed and more sensitive than normal, you might find a thicker sole provides more cushion when walking on harder surfaces, especially if they are uneven, such as gravel.
If you only need cushioning, the orthotics you find at retail stores may be sufficient, but at some point you may need custom orthotics. As new problems with your feet develop, you may need your orthotics changed again and re-customized to include these issues. At minimum, custom orthotics can help reduce friction and pressure on different areas of your feet. For example, with pain and changes in the structure of your feet from RA, you might make contact with the ground differently than before, which can create unnatural pressure points. Additionally, if you have toe deformities, there might be new areas on the top of your feet that make contact with your shoe. In addition to alleviating pressure on the bottom of your feet, you might need special inserts or cushions to prevent your toes from rubbing against the top of your shoe.
Give Your Feet TLC
In addition to the shoes and products you use to provide comfort and support, what you do at the beginning and end of the day can help with pain. Once you are home, spend some time sitting with your feet propped up. This can drastically reduce swelling that is likely to occur from standing and walking. Tackling the issue now might also prevent you from waking up the next morning with significantly swollen feet. You might also want to incorporate massage in the evening and when you wake up if swelling and morning stiffness in your feet are significant issues. Massaging your feet upon waking can help loosen your feet and mobilize the lymphatic fluid that is believed to be the cause of stiffness. In the morning, a warm shower or soaking your feet in warm water can also help with stiffness. If you experience swelling later in the day, brief episodes of cold therapy can also be used to minimize swelling.
Although foot problems associated with RA are generally progressive, making changes can help you reduce pain, stiffness, and possibly keep you moving longer. To learn more about caring for your feet, check out websites like https://www.familyfootcenter.net/.