Unfortunately, when it comes to foot care, most of you are failing miserably. Well maybe not YOU, because you’re reading this, but everyone else is failing…
The American Podiatric Medical Association has released a very illuminating survey on American’s attitudes and experiences concerning their foot health. The results are very surprising to us in some ways, and completely predictable in others, based on the patients we see. Unfortunately, your feet continue to rank low on the list of body parts you consider important to your well-being, and you’re paying less attention to them than you should.
The survey, released in March, shows that 8 out of 10 of you have experienced foot pain at some time in your life. Those of you who’ve experienced foot pain on a regular basis, also report regular issues with other health complications, primarily back pain, eyesight issues (probably diabetes-related), arthritis or other joint pain, weight issues, knee pain, and heart and circulatory disorders.
Half of you said that foot pain has restricted your activities in some way: walking, standing for long periods, exercising, sleeping, going to work, or playing with your children or grandchildren.
You said that you understand how important foot health is, and that consistent or chronic foot pain can indicate other health problems. You also said that you understand what a complex mechanism the foot is and that a podiatrist is best qualified to treat your foot pain.
You also reported that you have little knowledge of or experience with podiatrists. When a foot problem arises, you’re more likely to visit your primary care physician for help, or try and treat it on your own. But those of you who have visited a podiatrist give them high marks for care and are more satisfied with the outcome than those of you who were treated by your primary care physician.
This last fact highlights a common misperception about the healthcare system – that your primary care physician is some kind of wizard who knows how to treat every conceivable ailment. While we respect our fellow physicians, every MD’s training is different. Primary care physicians are a sort of first line of defense and are trained to identify and treat the most common illnesses and complaints in the population. They’re also trained to flag unusual symptoms and to refer out injuries and disorders which are best treated by a specialist. Yet 60% of you say that you would talk to your PCP about a foot condition before seeking advice from a podiatrist (we understand however, that some insurance plans require this). Hello? Podiatrists know more about foot and ankle injuries and disorders than any other physician. When given the choice, always opt for a specialist.
Shame on you: Only 32% of you report doing foot, ankle, or leg exercises to keep them strong, and only 43% wear proper, supportive footwear (that explains all of the comments/questions on our blog post about why your feet hurt). Speaking of footwear, 71% of women who wear high heels experience foot pain which they directly attribute to wearing high heels. Yet they own NINE PAIR (!).
Unfortunatley, nearly 50% of you experiencing foot pain wait until it’s severe to see a podiatrist. Most of you don’t even consider a visit to a podiatrist for conditions like persistently sweaty or odorous feet, blisters, pain from high heels, hammertoes, problems with your toenails, or even diabetic wound care. Yet each of these conditions can indicate a more serious potential problem or set of problems. Treated early and properly by a podiatrist, your pain and discomfort can be relieved without further complications. In fact, 34% of you said that a podiatrist helped you identify other health issues such as diabetes, circulatory issues, or nerve damage.
But what is up with the fact that only 74% of you report keeping your toenails trimmed? OMG! What are the other 26% of you doing? Do you have man servants to trim your toenails for you? Or extra long shoes to accommodate your lavishly long toenails?