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Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2018 Sep;70(9):1348-1354. doi: 10.1002/acr.23486. Epub 2018 Aug 14.

Foot Barriers in Patients With Early Rheumatoid Arthritis: An Interview Study Among Swedish Women and Men.

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Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden.
Mälardalen University, Eskilstuna, Sweden.



Foot impairments are related to reduced mobility and participation restrictions in daily activities in patients with established rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The new biologic medications are effective and reduce disease activity, but not disability to the same extent. Foot impairments are assumed to be related to participation restrictions also in patients with early RA, diagnosed after the introduction of biologic medications. Knowledge of foot impairments needs to be explored further after the introduction of biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (bDMARDs). The aim of this study was to explore the patients' perspective of foot impairments related to early RA.


The sample included 59 patients (ages 20-63 years) who were interviewed about participation dilemmas in daily life using the critical incident technique. The interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed. Data related to foot impairments were extracted and analyzed thematically. A research partner validated the analysis.


Patients with early RA described a variety of participation restrictions related to foot impairments: foot hindrances in domestic life, foot impairments influencing work, leisure activities restricted by one's feet, struggling to be mobile, and foot impairments as an early sign of rheumatic disease.


There is a need to focus on foot impairments related to early RA, and for health care professionals to understand these signs. A suggestion for future research is to conduct a longitudinal followup of foot impairment related to medication, disease activity, and disability in patients diagnosed after the introduction of bDMARDs.


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