By John Ellie, Jr.
The average person walks tens of thousands of miles in their lifetime. Yet a 2014 survey conducted by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) found that 54% of Americans don’t consider foot health to be essential to their overall health and well-being.
With warmer weather on its way, podiatrists — physicians and surgeons who assess, evaluate and treat the foot, ankle and related structures of the leg — are putting their feet down. April is APMA Foot Health Awareness Month, a timely reminder to everyone that feet deserve our appreciation, attention and expert care.
Daily wear and tear take their toll on the bone structure, tissues and elasticity of older feet. It’s not uncommon for seniors to develop corns, calluses, skin and nail disorders, bunions and hammertoes. This is why they usually undergo hammer toe surgery. Add foot or heel pain, plantar fasciitis, ingrown toenails, and flat feet, diabetes, and arthritis to the list, and you’ll understand why seniors need a foot doctor on their healthcare team.
Monitoring foot health, especially when other illnesses, diseases or health conditions are in the mix, is critical to prevent more severe problems down the road.
A lifetime of bad shoe choices is another reason people develop foot problems as they age. Shoes are meant to protect your feet and to help with the overall health of your foot. So, it’s essential to have footwear for different activities and weather conditions that provide proper support.
The podiatrists at the outpatient podiatry practice at St. Ann’s Community recommend choosing shoes with stiff soles and cushioning to provide structure and support for your feet. A properly fitted shoe should be comfortable and snug, but not too tight, to allow for a little wiggle room at the end of your toes. If your shoes slip on and off your heel when you move, try another style or size.
If you have a foot condition that makes finding shoes difficult, inserts that are molded to your foot, called foot orthotics, can provide the added support you need. Podiatrists often prescribe them as part of a comprehensive treatment plan to address a variety of foot problems and symptoms, usually having to do with an abnormality, pain or foot discomfort. If the pain persists, you might need foot surgery.
While it’s easy to buy cushion insoles and arch supports at your local drug store, they don’t provide the protection and support of custom-made orthotics. We at St. Ann’s Podiatry Practice can offer custom-made orthotics and charge less than specialty shoe stores. Your feet will thank you for investing in the real thing. Having healthy feet helps to enhance your life and gives you the mobility you need every day. So, don’t wait! Walk — or run, if you’re wearing well-fitted running shoes — to a podiatrist for a foot, ankle, or leg check-up today.
John Ellie, Jr. holds a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree (DPM) and is a podiatrist at the outpatient podiatry practice located at St. Ann’s Community in Rochester. Contact him at jellie@MyStAnns.com or 585-642-6100, or visit www.stannscommunity.com.