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Arthritis and Rheumatism

Can RA Cause Joint Deformity in One of the Big Toes?

12/04/2007

Question:

Please discuss how RA can cause deformity in one of the big toes? And, also is there a way a doctor can distinguish bunions from Rheumatoid Arthritis deformity, since they look exactly the same-with the big toes turning sideways toward the little toes?

Answer:

Question 1: Rheumatoid Arthritis not only affects the bones and joints but also the ligaments which hold the bones together. Once the ligaments are affected the bones can become deformed as the ligaments are not strong enough to stop the deforming force of walking and weight bearing.

Question 2: In most cases your doctor can tell if you have RA and can estimate whether or not your bunion deformity is caused by this disease. As you have already stated many people without RA develop bunions. X-rays can show the signs of RA which would help in determining the cause of the bunion and help in determining an appropriate treatment.

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Response by:

Jeffrey M Robbins, DPM Jeffrey M Robbins, DPM
Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University