Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory disease caused by immune deregulation involving the joints and certain organs. It is the most common form of chronic inflammatory rheumatism, affecting about 0.5% to 0.8% of the population.
Rheumatoid arthritis is much more frequent in women. Onset may be at any age, but most usually between 35 and 60. Any joint may be involved, but those of the hands and feet are most often affected.
The forefoot is quite often involved in the early stages, with pain in the metatarsophalangeal joints, and especially that of the 5th toe; however, as the disease advances, the foot becomes ever more affected, leading to destructive and potentially disabling lesions in the whole foot: forefoot, tarsus and hindfoot. Treatment, notably by TNF (tumor necrosis factor) inhibitors, limits the progression of structural lesions, but surgery remains necessary in some cases, to relieve pain and improve foot stability.
Treatment is primarily medical, with surgery only in case of irreversible destructive deformity causing pain on a daily basis.
See the possible treatments for rheumatoid arthritis