Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis causes foot deformity and pain in most patients. The deformity affects overall foot function and reduces mobility for the patient. 

Insoles and footwear play an extremely important role to provide support to the joints of the foot and to slow down the onset of deformity. They also help the patient walk better with less pain.

Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis. It is estimated that up to 90% of RA patients will experience foot deformity and foot pain to some extent. RA causes instability in the rear foot, and this could cause deformity in the forefoot, leading to increased pressure under the ball of the foot region while the patient is on their feet.

The joints which are most commonly affected in RA are: the smaller joints of the toes, the ‘metatarsophalangeal (MP) joints’ in the forefoot. Symptoms begin with swelling and inflammation in the joints and can go on to cause joint pain, joint deformity and joint erosion. RA can start changing the shape of your foot. 

Insoles and footwear play a very important role in reducing foot pain in RA patients thus giving them more confidence to go about their daily activities. With the use of correctly designed insoles and their early use supplemented with successful medical treatment can slow down the development of joint changes. The insoles provide support to the joints of the foot, offload excessive pressure zones and help improve overall foot function.


RA can also cause bursitis – inflammation of the bursae or fluid filled sacs that act as cushions at joints. Due to excessive rubbing in a particular area caused by foot deformity and instability, the bursae can become inflamed and cause a lot of pain. Treatment for bursitis usually comprises custom made insoles that reduce the pressure in the area of the bursae. The most common area of bursitis in RA patients is the ball of the foot region. Bursitis can also be caused in the area of the Achilles tendon and this condition, known as retrocalcaneal bursitis, is more common in athletes. This is caused by improper foot biomechanics causing repeated trauma and can be helped with custom insoles again.