The prevalence of foot ulceration in patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Jill Firth*, Claire Hale, Philip Helliwell, Jackie Hill, E. Andrea Nelson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To establish the prevalence of foot ulceration in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in secondary care.

Methods: A postal survey of all patients with RA (n = 1,130) under the care of rheumatologists in Bradford, West Yorkshire, UK was performed. The prevalence data were validated through clinical examination, case-note review, and contact with health professionals. The false-negative rate was investigated in a subsample of patients (n = 70) who denied any history of ulceration.

Results: The postal survey achieved a 78% response rate. Following validation, the point prevalence of foot ulceration was 3.39% and the overall prevalence was 9.73%. The false-positive rate was initially high at 21.21%, but use of diagrammatic questionnaire data to exclude leg ulceration reduced the rate to10.76%. The false-negative rate was 11.76%. The most common sites for ulceration were the dorsal aspect of hammer toes, the metatarsal heads, and the metatarsophalangeal joint in patients with hallux abducto valgus, with 33% of patients reporting multiple sites of ulceration. Patients with open-foot and healed-foot ulceration had significantly longer RA disease duration, reported significantly greater use of special footwear, and had a higher prevalence of foot surgery than ulcer-free patients.

Conclusion: Foot ulceration affects a significant proportion of patients with RA. Further work is needed to establish risk factors for foot ulceration in RA and to target foot health provision more effectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-205
Number of pages6
JournalArthritis Care and Research
Issue number2
Early online date31 Jan 2008
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2008


  • rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • foot ulceration
  • foot health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology


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