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Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) of the Foot and Ankle (Arthritis Foundation Approved)

Rheumatoid arthritis, a condition that can attack joints throughout the body, commonly affects both feet and both ankles at the same time. It can cause the joints to become swollen and possibly deformed, causing disability.

The causes of RA are not fully understood. It is thought to be caused by inherited genetic factors, but environmental factors may also play a role in triggering the condition. The disorder causes the immune system to attack the joints, inflaming the surrounding synovial membranes. This inflamed synovium leads to cartilage damage and to bone loss around the joint.

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can include stiffness (often worst in the morning). Symptoms can also include pain and swelling in the joints, especially the joints in the foot and ankle. The joints may become unstable and deformed. As the disease progresses, other conditions may develop, such as corns, bunions, hammertoes, claw toes or flatfoot.

Treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis include anti-inflammatory medications and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs or DMARDs as they are commonly called. These include a class of drugs called biological response modifiers (biologics for short). Surgery may be required if patients have pain that interferes with their daily activities, limitations in their range of motion or loss of function due to joint damage. Your doctor is the best source to determine diagnosis and treatment options for you.

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