Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in the feet include joint stiffness, pain and swelling, according to OrthoInfo. Symptoms typically are symmetrical and affect the same joints on both feet, unlike osteoarthritis, which can affect joints on just one side of the body.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an immune disease that attacks the tissues and joints anywhere in the body, although the feet and hands are often early targets of the disease, explains The College of Podiatry. Often the small joints in the body are attacked first, so a patient likely notices pain and swelling in the feet and hands before they occur in larger joints, such as the knees. Joint stiffness, especially in the morning, often occurs in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
If left untreated, rheumatoid arthritis causes deformities of the affected joints, states The College of Podiatry. Toes can form awkward angles, and arches can fall, causing flat feet. If the ankle joints are affected, the heel may bend outward, making walking painful and difficult.
Rheumatoid nodules form over the affected joints of the feet and hands in 30 to 40 percent of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, reports The College of Podiatry. Approximately 90 percent of patients diagnosed with the disease eventually have symptoms in their feet, states OrthoInfo.
Management of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms includes good footwear with proper arch support and plenty of room for the toes, as well as anti-inflammatory drugs, steroid medications and weight loss to reduce pressure on the feet, states Everyday Health.