Foot Health Awareness Month
In honor of April being Foot Health Awareness month, the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) and Illinois Podiatric Medical Association (IPMA) are seeking to educate the public about the impact podiatrists can have on individuals’ day-to-day health. Did you know that by age 50, the average American will have walked approximately 75,000 miles in their lifetime? That is the equivalent of walking around the world three times. Because of that, it is important that you take care of your feet. The best way to do that is to routinely see a podiatrist.
Since there is some confusion, let’s start with what exactly a podiatrist does. A podiatrist is a doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM) who is both a physician and a surgeon who treats the foot, ankle, and related structures of the leg. Podiatrists are important because your feet are important. Did you know that your feet have one-fourth of all the bones in your body? As the APMA website states, “Feet are complex anatomical structures, all-in-one stabilizers, shock absorbers, and propulsion engines that are instrumental to overall health and well-being. They require expert care.” If you break your foot or ankle, for example, you should see a podiatrist. It’s a podiatrist who has the most detailed understanding of the foot and ankle and can provide you with the best care and treatment.
Good footcare begins with good general healthcare. Thus, a healthy diet, regular exercise, and not using tobacco products are always beneficial to foot health. Regular personal hygiene is also important. This starts with examining the feet on a consistent basis. In addition, the toenails should be cautiously cleaned and trimmed at appropriate intervals. Corns and callouses (small patches of thickened skin due to friction or irritation) should be carefully managed. Also, protecting our feet with supportive footwear is very important. Selecting the appropriate socks and shoes, according to an individual’s occupation and level of activity, is an important decision. Finally, it’s important to wear the selected shoes on a regular basis, even when relaxing at home. This will help to avoid injuries to the feet. It’s very important to EXAMINE, MAINTAIN, and PROTECT the feet on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, some people with underlying diseases such as diabetes and circulatory issues are more prone to problems with their feet. These individuals often develop wounds or ulcers of the foot after even a small injury or irritation. Without proper treatment, serious complications that can jeopardize the health of the foot may arise. Specifically, many suffer from diabetic neuropathy. This condition impairs one’s ability to detect pain or injury to the foot. This is often seen in combination with poor circulation and decreased ability to fight infection. Thus, it’s easy to see that a relatively minor injury or foot problem can rapidly become a major concern, and occasionally lead to amputation of the toes or foot.
Your foot health can be a clue to your overall health. For example, joint stiffness could mean arthritis. Tingling or numbness could be a sign of diabetes. Swelling might indicate kidney disease, heart disease, or high blood pressure. Good foot care and regular foot checks are an important part of your health care. If you have foot problems, be sure to talk to your doctor.