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Wolf Man Feet

Lupus is an autoimmune inflammatory condition that got its name from the Latin word for wolf, lupo. Early clinicians thought the typical face rash of lupus resembled the markings on wolves, hence the name. Lupus, like other autoimmune inflammatory conditions can affect tissues all around the body. The feet are no exception. People with inflammatory arthritis, including lupus, commonly report foot complaints that include pain, impairment and disability. Foot problems in lupus can involve any of the tissue structures in the foot/ankle. These may include, but are not limited to, joint pain and swelling, skin lesions causing additional pain, tenderness and vascular and/or neurological manifestations in the lower limbs. The prevalence of foot complaints in lupus is high, with over three-quarters of those with this condition reporting having experienced pain in their feet during the course of their disease. The main foot tissues affected by lupus are the joints, the blood vessels, the nerves and the skin. Joint inflammation can not only result in pain but can lead to deformities like bunions and hammertoes. This can result in corn and callous formation due to shoe pressure. Inflammation of the small blood vessels can cause circulatory issues. Raynaud’s phenomenon is a circulatory condition of the toes that is caused by spasms of the small blood vessels. This is usually triggered by temperature changes. The toes will alternate between a white, red and blue hue to the skin. Lupus can also result in peripheral neuropathy which can lead to loss of sensation, weakness and balance issues. The typical skin rash seen in lupus is not often seen on the feet as it is mostly seen in sun exposed areas of the body. The other lupus complications mentioned previously can lead to acute or chronic foot ulcerations which can lead to infection. All in all the constellation of foot issues in lupus are similar to those found in diabetic patients. This makes it important for patients with lupus to seek professional foot care early in their condition. Lupus is diagnosed by physical signs and symptoms and is confirmed with blood tests. Signs and symptoms of lupus can be found at the CDC website https://www.cdc.gov/lupus/basics/symptoms.htm. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with lupus, send them in for a consultation so we can begin a preventative strategy for their feet.

Author
Paul Betschart, DPM Dr. Betschart has over 26 years of experience in treating patients of all ages with all kinds of foot and ankle conditions. His mission is to provide you with helpful information about foot and ankle issues and the latest developments in healthcare.

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