Rheumatoid Arthritis and Diabetes

Our podiatrists are qualified to thoroughly examine and treat those suffering from systemic diseases such as diabetes and arthritis. Such diseases can predispose sufferers to joint degeneration/deformity, circulatory and neurological deficits.

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Podiatric intervention can help to maintain the mobility of these individuals, enabling them to carry out a more active healthy lifestyle.

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Foot Health

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common type of inflammatory arthritis with most sufferers reporting associated foot problems.  Commonly patients with RA may experience some form of soreness, warmth and swelling of one or more joints of the foot mostly the smaller joints of the toes, the subtalar joint and less commonly, the ankle joint are affected. 

Symptoms range in severity from pain for a few days or longer, through to joint erosions, with joint instability, pain and associated changing foot shape.

Some of the symptoms one may experience are:

  • Lethargy
  • Joint ache
  • Joint sensitivity
  • Joint inflammation
  • ·Joint redness
  • Joint warmness
  • Joint stiffness
  • Loss of range and motion in the joints
  • Both sides of the body affected

Rheumatoid arthritis treatment

Symptoms of joint pain and swelling can impact on a person’s ability to undertake their usual daily activities with treatment aimed at reducing painful symptoms, supporting the joints of the feet and improving foot function.  

A personalised treatment plan will be developed by your podiatrist and may include the introduction of custom orthotic insoles and footwear advice as the early use of orthoses can slow the development of abnormal joint changes and improve levels of comfort and mobility.

Diabetes and Foot Health

Diabetes is a serious complex condition which can affect the entire body requiring daily management and self-care. 

If not managed appropriately Diabetes can have a significant impact on quality of life and may reduce life expectancy. 

Foot complications associated with diabetes are becoming more prevalent, and they are now the leading cause of hospitalisation for people with diabetes in Australia. 

Diabetics are unable to maintain healthy levels of glucose in the blood which contribute to long and short-term health complications.

Diabetes can be managed well but the potential complications are the same for type 1 and type 2 diabetes including heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, limb amputation, depression, anxiety and blindness.

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Diabetes and Foot Health Symptoms

In type 1 diabetes, symptoms are often sudden and can be life-threatening; therefore, it is usually diagnosed quite quickly. In type 2 diabetes, many people have no symptoms at all, while other signs can go unrecognised.

Usually by the time symptoms are noticed, complications of diabetes may already be present.


Common symptoms include:

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  • Being more thirsty than usual
  • Passing more urine
  • Feeling tired and lethargic
  • Always feeling hungry
  • Having cuts that heal slowly
  • Itching, skin infections
  • Blurred vision
  • Unexplained weight loss (type 1)
  • Gradually putting on weight (type 2)
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Leg cramps


Diabetes and Foot Health treatment

Diabetes affects different parts of the body in different ways, the role of our podiatry team is to manage and prevent serious conditions that can arise from this systemic disease.

A Diabetic foot assessment by one of our podiatrists is recommended to establish your foot health status. Our podiatrists will be able to perform simple tests to assess the sensation and vibration in your feet, determine the blood supply to your feet and identify any potential risk areas on your feet. Your podiatrist will then determine whether you need to return annually, or if you need to be seen more frequently.  Fortunately, most Diabetic related foot issues can be prevented with good foot care at home and regular checks with our podiatry team.