A descriptive study of foot problems in children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA)


  • Gayle Spraul MOT, OTR, MS, PT,

    Corresponding author
    1. Rheumatology Department, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department, Texas Children's Hospital
    • Texas Children's Hospital, 6621 Fannin; MC 3–2290, Houston, TX 77030
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  • Gaye Koenning MS, RD

    1. Rheumatology Department, Texas Children's Hospital, Houston, Texas
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In this study, we evaluated the feet of 144 consecutive children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) during a routine outpatient visit to discover patterns of foot problems. We found that all but nine subjects had at least 1 of 21 foot problems, categorized as inflammation, limitation of motion, and abnormal alignment. Overall, pronated rearfoot and midfoot were observed in 73% and 72% of JRA patients, respectively. Additionally, 36% had splayfoot, whereas 35% of subjects had ankle limitation of motion. Other common foot problems included pronated forefoot, rearfoot and forefoot synovitis, forefoot limitation of motion, and toe valgus. Significant differences in the occurrence of various foot problems were observed among JRA onset/course subgroups and were influenced by both age and disease duration. Specifically, subjects with polyarticular JRA had more forefoot limitation and toe valgus, whereas subjects with pauciarticular JRA had pronated forefoot more often. Ankle limitation of motion, although unrelated to the JRA subgroup, was related to the duration of JRA. Subjects with longer disease histories also had toe valgus more often. Conversely, forefoot limitation of motion seemed to be more a function of age than of disease duration. These results indicate that foot problems are common in the JRA population, and they underscore the need for thorough evaluation and physical therapy management.