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Foot Ankle Int. 1994 Nov;15(11):608-13.

Foot and ankle problems in rheumatoid arthritis.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Johns Hopkins Hospital and Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland 21287-0881.


The purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence of foot and ankle problems in 99 patients with clinically proven rheumatoid arthritis. Patients were recruited from outpatient rheumatology clinics; no attempt was made to select patients on the basis of the severity of their disease, duration of disease, or symptom constellation. Each patient was examined by an investigator utilizing a predesigned protocol to assess their functional status, functional capacity, and overall joint involvement. Ninety-three of 99 patients had complaints referable to the foot or ankle at some time since diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. Ankle problems were paramount in 42%, forefoot difficulties in 28%, and equal ankle and forefoot problems in another 14%. Only four patients had had any treatment involving foot orthotic devices or special shoe wear. The prevalence of foot and ankle symptoms was related to the duration of systemic illness, but was present in > 50% of patients at any time after diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. Patients with longstanding rheumatoid arthritis have a high prevalence of foot and ankle symptoms. Unlike previous reports, the present study found a high prevalence of ankle and hindfoot symptoms, as opposed to forefoot complaints. Despite this finding, the patients had been treated infrequently by either conservative nonoperative management directed at accommodating footwear or surgical intervention to favorably alter their foot and ankle mechanics.

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