By Christina DeBusk
It is fairly common for those who suffer from arthritis pain in the feet to experience that pain all the way from the toes to the lower back. In fact, one study published in Arthritis and Rheumatism found that “the prevalence and severity of forefoot joint damage” continues to increase up to eight years post-diagnosis, rheumatoid arthritis in particular.1 This makes finding comfort for this area of the body imperative for enjoying a higher quality of life.
The amount of pain arthritis can inflict on the lower extremities makes perfect sense—when you have arthritis in any of the 33 joints in your foot region, you’re obviously going to feel it. But when there is a misalignment or poor functioning in the joints in the feet on top of the underlying arthritis, it only stands to reason that the pain is going to get worse. That is where foot orthotics come in.2
Foot orthotics for relieving arthritis pain
When most people think about foot orthotics, they consider their traditional and more common uses, such as correcting an arch issue in the foot or giving the heel some much needed cushioning. However, foot orthotics can also be helpful when arthritis is the source of pain.
If the arthritis is aggravated due to misalignment, foot orthotics help correct this by putting the feet in their proper position so that weight is evenly distributed when walking. Additionally, specially designed orthotics cushion the joints in the feet, which provides additional comfort if a patient spends a lot of time standing or regularly engages in exercise that taxes the lower body, such as walking, jogging, or running.
Foot orthotics may also help if the arthritis is worsened by biomechanical issues in the feet by ensuring that foot movement is proper, thereby alleviating the pain. Sometimes this involves limiting range of motion in the arthritic area, which reduces the aggravation as a result.
Research weighs in
In a study published in Joint, Bone, Spine, 16 patients suffering with rheumatoid arthritis and pain in the balls of their feet were provided with foot orthotics. They were then evaluated at the end of a 30-day period. Results showed that the foot orthotics “significantly decreased” their self-reported pain levels.3
1Van Der Leeden, et al. “Prevalence and course of forefoot impairments and walking disability in the first eight years of rheumatoid arthritis.” Arthritis and Rheumatism. 2008:59(11);1596-1602.
2Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Easing Foot, Aknkle, and Knee Pain With Orthotics.” Johns Hopkins Health Alerts: Arthritis. http://www.johnshopkinshealthalerts.com/reports/arthritis/218-1.html. Published March 2006. Accessed October October 2014.
3Mejjad O, et al. “Foot orthotics decrease pain but do not improve gait in rheumatoid arthritis patients.” Joint, Bone, Spine. 2004:71(6);542-545.