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4 Tips For Dealing With Foot Changes Due To Inflammatory Arthritis

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Inflammatory arthritis can cause significant changes in the joints throughout your body, and your feet are no exception. Since your feet are weight bearing, you may find it is more difficult to ease symptoms. There are several changes you can make to lessen the impact of inflammatory arthritis on your feet.

Accommodate For Swelling

Even small amounts of time on your feet may increase swelling. When purchasing your next pair of shoes, choosing the right size can be difficult since your feet will swell more or less from one day to the next. When possible, try sizing up one half-size. Walk around to make sure the size difference does not cause your shoes to rub against your heels or that it does not cause you to trip. Additionally, chose styles that are available in wide widths. The combination of choosing a wider and slightly longer shoe is often enough to accommodate day-to-day swelling. Unless you are required to wear steel-toe boots or other harder shoes, try limiting your shoes to a softer, more malleable fabric. As your feet change in size throughout the day, a softer fabric is less likely to become constricting, irritating, or to exacerbate swelling.

Consider Your Toe Box

Steer clear of shoe styles with pointed or significantly rounded toe boxes. These are not appropriate for feet in general and are even worse when you have foot problems. One concern when inflammatory arthritis affects your feet is the increased likelihood of deformities, such as claw toe. Since your feet are prone to deformities, you never want to add additional pressure on your toes from constricting toe boxes. Slightly rounded toe boxes with plenty of "wiggle" room for each toe can give you the best compromise between comfort and aesthetic appeal (if this is important). Another option is a square toe box, which is less common in shoes, but typically allows additional toe room.

Pay Attention To Pressure Points

Pressure points and friction are the foundation for corns and calluses, but with inflammatory arthritis, you have more pressing concerns. If you notice increased friction or pressure at the base of your great toe or on the knuckles of your other toes, this could be an indication that deformities are occurring. For example, as bunions develop, you will likely experience more pain and inflammation at the base of the great toe. You may even notice shoes become more irritating at the joint. With claw toe deformity, the knuckles can start rubbing against the top of your shoe.

Although no product will fix the underlying problem, you can decrease the pressure on your toes to prevent the likelihood of ulceration or worsening inflammation. A quick fix is to use a few cotton balls or gauze and waterproof tape to create a small cushion for the area. Corn and callus pads are another option—just be sure to use the unmedicated variety.

Invest In Customized Solutions

Although retail shoe inserts are a useful, temporary fix to help minimize foot pain and pressure, their one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate for serious foot concerns and degenerative ailments. It is imperative that you invest in custom orthotics or other foot care devices that are specifically made for your current needs. As your feet change, which can be frequently with inflammatory arthritis, you will likely need regular modifications to the devices you use.

For example, pain and inflammation in the ball of your foot is common with inflammatory arthritis. A specific orthotic device for this concern might include metatarsal pads. They are used to help redistribute pressure and minimize pain. Other concerns you may experience can include changes in both the feet and ankles that contribute to not only pain, but also problems with walking. Ankle-foot orthotics might be useful if you are experiencing instability in your ankle.

Foot pain and deformities are an unfortunate, but common problem associated with inflammatory arthritis. Addressing foot concerns when they are in the early stages can give you a better chance at decreasing pain and maintaining long-term function. For more information, check out websites like