Long before an official diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis, certain patients may begin experiencing the telltale symptom of foot problems. In particular, athletes may develop tendonitis or plantar fasciitis and shrug it off as a sports injury, when in fact it’s an early red flag for psoriatic arthritis.
Here are the three most common foot problems doctors see in patients with psoriatic arthritis, according to rheumatologist Leah Alon, MD, of the Harlem Health Center and Queens Health Center in New York City.
Plantar fasciitis: This causes pain in the sole of the foot, especially first thing in the morning, due to inflammation of the tissue.
Achilles tendonitis: The patient will feel pain in the back of the lower leg, near the heel.
Dactylitis: This appears as swelling and puffiness along the toes.
Not only can these foot problems trigger debilitating pain for many patients with psoriatic arthritis, but without proper treatment, these issues can progress and cause long-term damage in the form of clawed toes, overextension of the big toe, and in-rolling of the ankle, according to Dr. Alon.
While making sure your psoriatic arthritis is well managed overall, such as by adhering to your medication regimen, certain lifestyle changes can also help relieve foot pain. Here’s what doctors recommend to cut down on foot pain caused by psoriatic arthritis.
Get shoes that fit. This starts by having your feet measured by a trained salesperson and finding the right size. Consult with the salesperson to find shoes with proper arch and heel support. If your shoes do not have this, consider buying orthotic inserts. (Learn more about how to find the right orthotics for you here.)
Ice your foot. For plantar fasciitis in particular, you might find it soothing to roll the bottom of your foot back and forth across a cold or frozen water bottle.
Cut your toenails. If you keep them short, they’re less likely to irritate the nail bed.
Keep nails naked. Covering up your toenails with colorful polish may mask potential signs of infection. You may be tempted to hide a yellow nail, but that’s not a symptom you should ignore.
Ditch the heels. Stilletos push feet forward and cramp the toes, which aggravate the symptoms of common psoriatic arthritis foot problems.
Even if you’re following all these lifestyle habits, it’s wise to see a podiatrist to make sure you’re taking proper care of your feet. Every case is unique, and it’s worth it to invest now to avoid long-term damage.
Looking for more tips? Here are 8 rules for an anti-inflammatory diet to reduce psoriatic arthritis pain.