Do the joints in your feet feel tender or warm? Are they swollen? Do you have stiffness in your feet in the morning that sometimes takes hours to go away? You could have rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that typically starts in the small joints in hands and feet first. As the disease progresses, it often spreads to other parts of the body like knees and hips.
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body's tissues. In rheumatoid arthritis, the defenses that protect you from infection begin damaging normal tissue (like cartilage and ligaments) and soften bone. Over time, rheumatoid arthritis can cause joints to deform and shift out of place.
If you think you have rheumatoid arthritis, you should visit your doctor. See a local SHOES-n-FEET location for a referral. Treatment usually focuses on controlling the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and preventing joint damage. Your doctor may prescribe medicine, and you may be sent to a physical therapist who can help teach you how to keep your joints flexible. In some cases, surgery may be advised which could help you regain use of joints that are particularly affected. At home you can try applying heat and cold to see if that helps ease pain and relax affected muscles.
Wearing proper shoes is very important for someone with rheumatoid arthritis. Shoes should have proper arch support and shock absorption, which can help prevent new inflammation. They should also be roomy in the toe area, to take pressure off tender joints - you may want to purchase a pair that are wide or even extra-wide in size. If your foot swells a lot, you might look for a pair that is stretchable and has adjustable straps instead of laces.
Although rheumatoid arthritis currently has no cure, medications, exercises, and wearing correct shoes can help lessen and manage the pain.