Rheumatoid Arthritis is a long-term condition that affects more than 400,000 people in the UK. While it largely affects women more than men, the most common age group is between the ages of 40 and 60. It is an auto-immune condition that usually affects the wrists, hands, and feet, and individuals can experience ‘flare ups’ where symptoms are more intense at particular periods.
Whereas your immune system usually works to fight infection and protect your body, with auto-immune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, the cells that line your joints are targeted instead, leaving them painful and stiff. While there is no cure for this condition, there are methods of rheumatoid arthritis treatment that can make the condition more manageable, such as the use of Orthotics. With that in mind, here are 4 reasons why you should use Orthotics to help you manage your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
They can help to decrease the progression of deformity.
Those with rheumatoid arthritis often struggle with a range of foot problems. This is caused by damage to the joints and can even lead to serious deformities. This rheumatoid arthritis symptom can be one of the most debilitating for those with the condition, as it can make even the simplest of daily tasks, such as walking to the local shop, incredibly difficult and painful.
One of the most common forms of foot deformities that is caused by rheumatoid arthritis is hallux valgus, commonly known as bunions. Those with rheumatoid arthritis are more prone to this because of the added pressure that inflammation puts on the joints, and the erosion that the condition can cause to the toe joints. This can cause the toe joints to dislocate and shift, which leads to bunions.
Wearing footwear that is tight on your toes or high heels, can also increase the risk of bunions developing. Therefore, wearing Orthotics with metatarsal pads in comfortable shoes provides more space for your toes and offers support to the arch of your foot. This can help to decrease deformity while also preventing any existing foot deformities from getting any worse.
Offers pain relief.
For many individuals, one of the main rheumatoid arthritis symptoms that they struggle with the most is daily pain and discomfort. It is often described by patients as a type of joint pain which is usually an aching and throbbing sensation. Many individuals experience more intense levels of pain in the morning after inactivity during the night.
Therefore, more people are looking to orthotics for rheumatoid arthritis to provide them with some relief. They are effective as they help to redistribute the weight in your feet and take the pressure off sensitive areas of your foot that could be cause of the discomfort.
For example, research carried out by Kavlak and team  looked at the efficacy of Orthotics for those with Rheumatoid Arthritis and found that they made a significant difference to the level of foot pain that participants were experiencing. After a 3-month period they considered them an important aspect to the rehabilitation of the rheumatoid foot.
Provides better joint support.
Those who have rheumatoid arthritis can find their mobility significantly affected due to the instability that it causes to the joints. Not only can the damage caused to the joints make it difficult to remain active, but it can also lead to other foot conditions such as hammer toe. Orthotics have been used widely in the treatment of rheumatoid foot  to increase the support and padding to your foot joints, so that walking becomes easier and less painful.
Can help increase mobility and exercise levels.
In modern society many of us have sedentary occupations and lifestyles. However, for those with rheumatoid arthritis, it can feel impossible to walk up the stairs, never mind engage in regular exercise. However, it is crucial that you try to increase your mobility despite how debilitating your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can be.
Exercising with arthritis may feel more difficult, but it can have a positive impact on your overall physical and mental health, as well as easing some of your symptoms. Regular physical activity can improve muscle strength, function, and stop your joints from becoming stiffer and sorer. However, having weak joints can make it difficult to find the confidence to engage in exercise and make you nervous about falling and injuring yourself. But wearing Orthotics for arthritis can help to stabilise the foot, relieve discomfort, and offer additional joint support to make exercise more accessible as well as enjoyable.
While living with Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can have a huge impact on your mobility and quality of life, by using Orthotics as a form of treatment you can provide your feet with the extra support, they need to live a happy and healthy lifestyle.
- Kavlak Y, Uygur F, Korkmaz C, Bek N. Outcome of Orthoses Intervention in the Rheumatoid Foot. Foot & Ankle International. 2003;24(6):494-499.
- de P Magalhães E, Davitt M, Filho DJ, Battistella LR, Bértolo MB. The effect of foot orthoses in rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2006;45(4):449-453.