Can Ankylosing Spondylitis Cause Foot Pain?
Posted on Oct 20, 2022

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS), also known as Bechterew disease, is a rare form of arthritis that affects the spine. However, as we know, what causes concern with one part of the body can impact other parts as well. That’s why we’re discussing how Ankylosing spondylitis relates to foot pain.

What Is Ankylosing Spondylitis?

The term “ankylosis” refers to fused bones and other hard tissue, while “spondylitis” refers to inflammation in the spine.

It affects places where your tendons and ligaments attach to your bones. This can cause stiffness and pain in your lower back, hips, ribs, shoulders, hands, thighs and feet. When a tendon meets a bone, a transition must occur between the materials and the biomechanical properties of them. With AS, this transition zone becomes less efficient, more painful and weak. The inflammation caused by AS is not isolated to one place on the body.

Typically, AS presents itself earlier in life. Ninety-five percent of people affected begin to develop the symptoms of AS before age 45. However, it can go undiagnosed, or be difficult to spot, because its primary symptom is back pain. Due to back pain being so common, AS is often mistaken for something else. It’s also more common and more aggressive in men.

Other sites that might be affected by this rheumatic condition include the skin, lungs, kidneys, heart and digestive tract. Sacroiliitis is quite common and a hallmark of the disease.

How AS Impacts The Feet

Due to the inflammatory nature of AS, it can impact any part of the body, including your feet and heels. Chronic levels of inflammation can lead to dysfunction or damage to areas of the feet. Some foot conditions that can result from AS include plantar fasciitis, achilles tendinitis and toe dactylitis. The pain often found in the foot is due to the enthesitis, or inflammation of tendinous and ligamentous attachments.  

AS can also impact your overall posture, placing more strain than usual on the feet in an attempt to balance with a forward-leaning spine.

If you believe you may have AS, it’s important to visit a doctor for an official diagnosis. While there is no one test to determine whether or not you have AS, they can at least evaluate your condition and start working with you on a treatment plan. There are some serum markers that are highly associated with the condition. While there is no cure, exercise and physical therapy can help keep your spine strong and reduce symptoms. Living an anti-inflammatory life, to include diet, will also help to control symptoms. 

Alleviate Foot Pain With The Healing Sole

The Healing Sole can help alleviate the foot pain associated with AS. It combines a rocker bottom sole, compressible inner heel, and non-compressible outer heel to reduce stress and redistribute weight, thus reducing pain with every step.

If you suffer from plantar fasciitis or achilles tendinitis as the result of AS, having a rocker bottom sole to gently stretch and strengthen the foot can help alleviate pain associated with these conditions as well.

Because AS is an inflammatory disease, NSAIDs are a common way to relieve pain. However, there are many negative side effects associated with NSAIDs. In her private practice, Dr. Warner prescribes her patients Tart Cherry Extract for this reason. It acts in a similar way to NSAIDs, but in a much more gentle manner.