How Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Affects The Feet

How Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Affects The Feet

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic, autoimmune disorder that results in multisystemic manifestations of a heterogeneous nature that can have a significant impact on an individual’s overall quality of life.

While varying considerably in severity and clinical characteristics, the prevalence of foot complaints in SLE patients is often observed to be high, with the feet being susceptible to a number of deformities, functional deficits, infection and ulceration.

As established by Otter et al. through their cross sectional survey on patterns of foot problems in the SLE population, pain in the joints (particularly rearfoot pain) was found to have a substantial impact on routine activities of daily life such as walking or standing.

Patients reported difficulty in standing for more than 15 minutes, climbing stairs, wearing different shoes and shopping. For some of the participants, foot pain was also found to prevent sleep and to create social and emotional problems.

A wide range of extra-articular foot complaints such as cold feet, Reynaud’s phenomenon and chilblains were also outlined by SLE patients in the survey; these were attributed to impaired vasculature.

Another survey conducted by Cherry et al. found a higher prevalence of vascular, dermatological and musculoskeletal complications among respondents with SLE; a quarter of the participants were documented as having had a fall associated with changes in foot sensation.

Based on the findings of the survey, the authors recommend promoting an increased awareness of potential risk factors for the SLE population in order to formulate more effective prevention strategies.

The implementation of MASS4D® customised foot orthotics in conjunction with balance training would aim to stabilise and strengthen the muscles of the feet, with the orthotic calibrated to accommodate specific musculoskeletal changes brought about by the onset of SLE.

Many also benefit from a marked improvement in ankle range motion through the regular use of MASS4D® foot orthotics, which help to reduce load on the soft tissue supportive structures around the ankle and provide a more stable of support for resistance to body sway.

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  1. Otter, S. J., Kumar, S., Gow, P., Dalbeth, N., Corkill, M., Rohan, M., Davies, K. A., Pankathelam, S., Rome, K. (2016) Patterns of Foot Complaints in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: A Cross Sectional Survey. Journal of Foot and Ankle Research: 2016, Vol. 9, No. 10. DOI 10.1186/s13047-016-0143-8
  2. Cherry, L., Alcacer-Pitarch, B., Hopkinson, N., Teh, L. S., Vital, E. M., Edwards, C. J., Blake, A., Williams, A. E. (2016) The Prevalence of Self-reported Lower Limb and Foot Health Problems Experienced by Participants with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: Results of a UK National Survey. Lupus: September 2016. DOI: 10.1177/0961203316670730

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