Foot Pain Can Accompany Ankylosing Spondylitis
Ankylosing Spondylitis primarily affects the spine. However, the disease can also cause swelling and pain in just about any joint in the body, including the hips, ankles and knees. Problems with the feet are also common. There are two separate areas where foot pain seems to occur. The less common area of pain is at the back of the heel where the heel bone attaches to the achilles tendon. If pain is present here, care in selection of footwear is important, as shoes will frequently aggravate the situation.
The second, and more common, area of foot pain is on the bottom of the foot near the heel. The pain is usually worse the first thing in the morning and/or the first few steps taken, normally more pronounced at the beginning of a weight-bearing activity, then lessening as the tissues warm up. The condition is not exclusive to people with ankylosing spondylitis, and is known as plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is the connective tissue that supports the arch of the foot. Everyone with AS knows what 'itis' means. Treatments for this condition vary depending on the individual. They might include stretching, strengthing, rest, anti-inflammatory agents, arch supports, changing footwear, orthotics, night splints, and as a last resort, surgery.
The condition will normally respond better if therapy is begun as soon as possible after symptoms begin. The longer treatment is delayed, the longer it can take for it to have the desired effect.
One study that tested various treatments stated that stretching was successful in eighty-three percent of plantar fasciitis patients, and twenty-nine percent of the participants stated that stretching was the most helpful treatment. The other treatments included in the study were orthotics, ice, heat, night splints, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) footwear changes, heat, ice, and plantar strapping.
There are a few things that tend to increase the risk of developing plantar fasciitis. Anyone who has ankylosing spondylitis should try to avoid these. The first is being overweight, as asking your feet to support the extra poundage can break down the tissue under the heel bone. Also, try not to wear shoes with stiff soles or poor arch support. These have been shown to frequently be a contributing factor. Spending long periods of time walking or standing on hard surdfaces should also be avoided whenever possible. Additionally, anyone who has AS and has either high arches or flat feet should take extra care to select footwear that is appropriate for their foot type, as both of these conditions increase the possibility of heel pain.