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Carol Eustice

Foot Ulcers - A Problem for Many Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients

By April 6, 2008

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Foot ulcers are not uncommon in rheumatoid arthritis patients. About 1 in 10 patients reported having foot ulcers, according to a study reported in the February 15, 2008 issue of Arthritis Care & Research. Nearly half of those patients who reported having foot ulcers also reported a recurring problem, and one-third reported ulcers on multiple sites of the foot.

Researchers in the United Kingdom sent surveys through the mail to 1,130 rheumatoid arthritis patients under the care of a rheumatologist. The data collected was validated by physical examination, a review of medical notes, and contact with health professionals. False positive and false negative reports were weeded out and patients who also had diabetes were excluded from the survey results. The most common sites for foot ulcers were:

  • the top (dorsal) aspect of hammer toes (48%)
  • the metatarsal (front third of the foot) head region (32%)
  • the metatarsophalangeal (big toe) joint in patients with bunions (hallux valgus) (20%)

Open and healed foot ulceration was related to longer duration of rheumatoid arthritis, a greater need and use of special footwear, and a higher prevalence of foot surgery than in patients without foot ulcers. The goal of the study was to identify the scope of the problem of foot ulcers in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Patients with connective tissue diseases, like scleroderma, especially when associated with Raynaud's disease and vasculitis, are also at risk for foot ulcers. The problem of foot ulcers is serious -- untreated, infected ulcers can lead to life-threatening sepsis.

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Photo by Jorge Salcedo (iStockphoto)

Comments
December 19, 2010 at 1:53 am
(1) André says:

A pic of RA foot ulcer (19.12.2010) due to poor blood circulation. Hope to send you a pic of healed ulcer after possible bypass op.

May 28, 2011 at 6:58 pm
(2) Daniel Wilde says:

I have had a foot ulcer for about 15 years due to R/A. I’m tired of all the BS from Dr.s. I honestly believe it’s all about money and not about helping the person. I’m thinking of throwing in towel for pain levels are to high even with drugs and all Dr.s want to do is jerk your chain. I have had surgeries tried many different things and nothing. I’m tired of pain. If anyone has any suggestions please post. Has anyone ever tried ocean water on long term for healing. I’m tired and about worn down to where cant take anymore.

October 26, 2012 at 8:26 am
(3) marion fadelle says:

have had RA for 55years and developed foot ulcers nearly 4 years ago but mistakenly treated for venous with compression.
have been through all the known, approved treatments. Two healed after 3years but more have developed on other areas of both feet.
Infections, antibiotics, severe pain. tried morphine patches but had
awful side effects.I, like anyone with RA know what severe ,prolonged
pain is like. Worse when in bed, screaming and crying with pain
and worn out from lack of sleep..Have read about Oxyzyme and Iodazyme treatment and have forwarded all the information to my GP
and am waiting to see if I can try it. I AM DESPERATEFOR HELP
Has anyone’s RA ulcer healed without recurrence?

October 26, 2012 at 6:03 pm
(4) Sue says:

At present I have two open ulcers and one that isn’t open, just a bit sore and small red spot. The best results I have had are “Arizona AFO: braces. Since getting them my ulcers are getting smaller and less painful. Medicare does pay for them if you have Medicare? Mine ran $500.00 each, but even without Medicare and our secondary, I would have found a way to purchase them. You can find them by doing a search. Arizona AFO, Mesa Arizona. Has too be Mesa Arizona.
They are designed to support leg and ankle which somehow takes pressure off feet and hold them secure so there is no friction. They fit inside a regular shoe. They also have an orthotic built in and as in my case, a toe filler for those without toes.
Please take a look.

November 6, 2012 at 9:50 pm
(5) Sue says:

I find it quite frustrating and sad, that Medicare does not recognize Rheumatoid Arthritis as the horrible , crippling and painful disease it is. If we who suffer from this disease had Diabetes, everything we needed to help us would be thrown at our feet.. It seems so unfair and angers the %#&@ out of me.

Did any of you read my comment about the Arizona AFO Braces? Worth considering. Also just found out about “Silipos” gel socks. Going to try a pair to see if they will cushion ball of foot where there is no normal cushioning anymore.

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