University of Sussex

File(s) not publicly available

Foot pain in rheumatoid arthritis prevalence, risk factors and management: an epidemiological study

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 16:03 authored by Simon J Otter, Kevin Lucas, Kate Springett, Ann Moore, Kevin DaviesKevin Davies, Liz Cheek, Adam Young, Karen Walker-Bone
Foot involvement is a major feature of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Most epidemiological studies of the RA foot report radiological changes and results of clinical examination. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of foot symptoms, frequency of foot assessment and access to foot care from the perspective of people with RA. A questionnaire was sent to 1,040 people with RA throughout the UK enquiring about foot symptoms, their anatomical distribution (via validated mannequins) availability of podiatry services and perceived usefulness of interventions for alleviating foot symptoms. Altogether 585 useable replies were received; 93.5% of respondents reported having experienced foot pain, and 35.4% reported current foot pain as the presenting symptom. Most (68.2%) reported moderate or severe foot pain daily. Pain was most prevalent in the forefoot and/or ankle. The main predictive factors for reporting current foot pain were longer disease duration (mean 13 vs 10.3 years, p = 0.009), higher BMI (25.6 vs 24.1 p = 0.001) and the prevalent foot symptoms foot stiffness and numbness (both p < 0.0001). Age, gender and current treatment were not significantly associated. Most (82%) had discussed foot symptoms with their rheumatologist, and only 64% had seen a podiatrist. Reported current adherence to prescribed orthoses was 55.8% and to prescribed shoes was 29.5%. Foot symptoms are ubiquitous in RA and frequently severe. Most patients had discussed their symptoms with their rheumatologist, and only 64% had specifically seen a podiatrist. Despite the remarkable progress in development of new treatment modalities for RA, foot pain remains a common and disabling symptom. Our findings support the need for wider access to specific foot care services and evidence-based, patient-centred interventions.


Publication status

  • Published


Clinical Rheumatology




Springer Verlag





Page range


Department affiliated with

  • Clinical and Experimental Medicine Publications


IDS Number: 549GG

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date


Usage metrics

    University of Sussex (Publications)


    No categories selected