Friday, 18 January 2013

My Feet Were the First Victims of RA

After almost two years of being sick and having no diagnosis, the problem of dealing with feet I could hardly on walk on was serious. I had to take steps to find out what was the matter with me.  Dr A had no answers so I switched to Dr B - a sports doctor. Neither helped and it seemed that they never would, so I decided to go to a foot clinic.  There I met some enthusiastic residents with many ideas, but when the orthopedic surgeon stepped in he said "Send the lady for a blood test"

So after all that time of feeling that I was walking on knives when I got up in the morning, I had an answer.  The blood test showed unmistakably that I had Rheumatoid Arthritis.  

The Little Mermaid in fairy tales kept going through my mind during that time. That feeling she had of walking on knives when she gave up her tail was the biggest downside of being human.


Luckily as my treatment plan unfolded with a team of health professionals the OT (occupational therapist) sent me to the hospital foot clinic for orthotics. I think of them as splints for the feet.  They helped: I was able to walk much better with them and had a lot less pain. Over the years the materials used to make them changed.  At the hospital the orthotic workshop used rubber that had some "give" to it.  This was good because I needed something softer to walk on, and they were able to accommodate my toes that were turning under, as well as align my feet properly.

When some of your toes start to stick up above your other toes they rub on the top of the shoe and get swollen sore red bumps. Sheep's wool padding helped with the top of the foot. Because the orthotics were custom made, they allowed little depressions for the toes that needed room below the level of the sole of my foot. The orthotist used leather as a top layer to make a smooth surface.

                                   side view of orthotic, inside view of foot

This is a side view of an orthotic showing the layers used to make it. It is a little short for that foot.

Once I had a pair of lovely to look at orthotics. They were made of acrylic plastic and clear like jelly.


They were so disappointing. Lovely to look at and just like walking on concrete. I've been told that RA feet are more sensitive because we lose the fat pads on the soles of our feet.  I can attest to that sensitivity and add to it the other common feeling of walking on marbles.

These days I wear socks with padded feet made for people with diabetes. They give me a little more cushioning. The best socks are actually techno ski socks of pure wool but no one in Florida or the south would want to wear them. It takes a cold climate to appreciate their smart padding.

                                                   smartwool socks
I may never have really happy feet, but with my orthotics I don't limp anymore, and I am sure that my knees and hips are better because of them.

                                 flickr CCCvrcak   Happy Feet

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