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Musculoskeletal Care. 2011 Jun;9(2):86-92. doi: 10.1002/msc.200.

Guidelines for the management of the foot health problems associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

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  • 1Directorate of Prosthetics, Orthotics and Podiatry and the Centre for Health, Sport and Rehabilitation Sciences Research, University of Salford, Salford, UK.



Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) as a chronic systemic disease, commonly affects the feet, impacting negatively on patients' quality of life. Specialist podiatrists have a prime role to play in the assessment and management of foot and ankle problems within this patient group. However, it has been identified that in many areas there is no specialist podiatry service, with many patients being managed by non-specialist podiatrists. Therefore, the North West Clinical Effectiveness Group for the Foot in Rheumatic Diseases (NWCEG) identified the need to develop 'practitioner facing' guidelines for the management of specific foot health problems associated with RA.


Members of a guideline development group from the NWCEG each reviewed the evidence for specific aspects of the assessment and management of foot problems. Where evidence was lacking, 'expert opinion' was obtained from the members of the NWCEG and added as a consensus on current and best practice. An iterative approach was employed, with the results being reviewed and revised by all members of the group and external reviewers before the final guideline document was produced.


The management of specific foot problems (callus, nail pathology, ulceration) and the use of specific interventions (foot orthoses, footwear, patient education, steroid injection therapy) are detailed and standards in relation to each are provided. A diagrammatic screening pathway is presented, with the aim of guiding non-specialist podiatrists through the complexity of assessing and managing those patients with problems requiring input from a specialist podiatrist and other members of the rheumatology multidisciplinary team.


This pragmatic approach ensured that the guidelines were relevant and applicable to current practice as 'best practice', based on the available evidence from the literature and consensus expert opinion. These guidelines provide both specialist and non-specialist podiatrists with the essential and 'gold standard' aspects of managing people with RA-related foot problems.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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