Rheumatoid Arthritis Doctors

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects your body’s immune system, mistakenly attacking and inflaming healthy tissue in your joint lining. This swelling can be painful and damage the joints over time. 

RA is a common disease that affects more than 1.3 million Americans. Continue reading to learn more about the details behind this disease and when to see a doctor.

What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

RA results from an autoimmune response in the body where the immune system attacks its healthy cells. This usually occurs in many joints at once, causing tissue damage in the lining and leading to chronic pain, deformity and instability. 


There can be times when symptoms get worse — known as flares — and there are times when symptoms improve, known as remission. You may have RA if you experience:


  • Pain or aching in multiple joints
  • Stiffness in multiple joints
  • Same symptoms on both sides of the body
  • Tenderness and swelling in multiple joints
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness

The causes of RA are unknown, but several risk factors can increase its chance of development. These include:

  • Age: While RA can begin at any age, its likelihood increases in older adults ages 30 to 50.
  • Sex: Women are three times more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than men.
  • Genetics: People born with human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II genotype genes can experience worsened arthritis with age — especially with environmental factors like smoking and obesity.

Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Be in Your Foot and Ankle?

In short, yes — rheumatoid arthritis can affect your foot and ankle. RA most often starts in the hands and feet on both sides of your body. More than 90% of people with RA develop foot and ankle symptoms throughout the disease, with about 70% reporting foot pain within the first three years of the disease.

When RA begins in the ankles, it can transfer to your feet. When this happens, you may develop the following:

  • Bunions or corns
  • Bursitis
  • Toe misalignment, hammer toes or claw toes
  • Rheumatoid nodules — or lumps — below the foot skin
  • Arch collapse
  • Pain in the ball of your foot
  • Foot shape changes

When Should You See a Doctor for Foot Rheumatoid Arthritis?

If you begin developing any symptoms listed above, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a doctor immediately. Tissue damage with RA is not reversible, but treatment can help slow the progression. At Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates, we have a series of diagnostic abilities for RA severity to determine the best treatment option.

  • Our digital X-rays can assess your bone erosion, joint narrowing, bunion growth, toe misalignment and more.
  • Diagnostic ultrasounds look specifically at the tissue of the foot, helping diagnose bursitis.
  • Get a better look at arthritic joint damage with our pedCAT 3D imaging services.

Your Experts in Foot and Ankle Rheumatoid Arthritis Care

Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates provide solutions for RA pain that can get you back on your feet. Contact our team of RA doctors in Centralia, Lacey, Olympia, Tacoma or Tumwater, WA, to schedule an appointment today.

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