RA often strikes the feet, and toe misshapenness may occur, making walking or wearing shoes difficult. Surgeons will often correct these deformities with surgery or orthotics.

In the past, joint replacement surgery was done on people with RA, but now 97 percent of joint surgery is done for osteoarthritis (OA), the “wear-and-tear” form of the disease, Dr. Pisetsky says. “RA surgery is no longer common because therapy works, and people get treated early so deformities don’t happen,” he adds.

Common RA Deformities and Their Treatments

Name: Boutonniere deformity
What it Looks Like: The middle finger joint bends toward the palm while the outer finger joint may bend opposite the palm
Rx: Splinting to keep the middle joint extended, or surgery

 Name: Swan-neck deformity
 What it Looks Like: The base of the finger and the outermost joint bend, while the middle joint straightens
 Rx: Finger splints or surgery

Name: Hitchhiker’s thumb
What it Looks Like: The thumb flexes at the metacarpophalangeal joint and hyperextends at the interphalangeal joint below your thumb nail. It is also called Z-shaped deformity of the thumb.
 Rx: Splinting or surgery

Name: Claw toe deformity
What it Looks Like: The toes are either bent upward from the joints at the ball of the foot, downward at the middle joints, or downward at the top toe joints and curl under the foot.
Rx:  Stretching exercises, special shoes or surgery