Good foot and ankle health is critical for good overall health, so no matter what your wellness goals are for 2024, be sure to start from the ground up.
“Feet and ankle issues can be signs of overarching health problems like diabetes, arthritis and cardiovascular disease, so paying attention to them is vital for early diagnosis and treatment says Michael Coyer, DPM, FACFAS, a foot and ankle surgeon and Fellow Member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS). “Additionally, many common New Year’s resolutions related to fitness and weight loss are difficult to tackle if you’re experiencing foot and heel pain, making it important to fix these issues first.”
Get a jumpstart on your 2024 health resolutions with these foot health facts from ACFAS:
“I want to lose weight”: Obesity aggravates foot problems, like heel pain and flat feet, making it hard to exercise. And, without exercise, obesity worsens, potentially increasing the progression of serious health threats. Break the cycle by seeking evaluation and treatment for chronic, activity-limiting foot and ankle problems. Once cleared to begin exercise, don’t do too much too soon. Follow a gradual routine of low-impact exercise until your body adjusts to the stress of regular physical activity.
“I want to build strong bones”: Osteoporosis is a bone-thinning disease affecting more than 28 million Americans, and your feet can present clues that there’s a problem. Early symptoms can include increased pain with walking accompanied by redness and swelling on the top of the foot, as well as unexplained foot fractures. Don’t ignore foot pain. Visit your foot and ankle surgeon who can detect osteoporosis through a bone densitometry test. Once you have a diagnosis you can take steps to prevent stress fractures, such as wearing shoes that provide support and cushioning, and using custom orthotics.
“I want to age gracefully”: Taking good care of feet and ankles can improve balance, coordination and stability to reduce a senior’s risk of a life-altering fall. Examine your feet regularly. At the sign of bumps, lumps or other changes, or if you’re experiencing pain, make an appointment with your foot and ankle surgeon. Maintain foot strength and mobility with simple stretching exercises. Your foot and ankle surgeon can recommend appropriate exercises and discuss options for insoles and special footwear for additional protection.
“I want to feel my best”: Having persistently cold feet is not just uncomfortable, it could be a sign of a medical condition that causes poor blood flow in the legs or feet, such as peripheral vascular disease, Raynaud’s phenomenon and heart disease. It could also be an indication of hypothyroidism, adrenal insufficiency or an autoimmune disorder, such as lupus. If your feet are persistently cold, follow up on it with your foot and ankle surgeon to determine if there’s a greater issue to be addressed.
“I want to manage my diabetes better”: Foot care is fundamental to diabetes management. Visit your foot and ankle surgeon for guidelines on diabetic foot care to help prevent problems like ulcers, cracked heels and bone infection that can lead to serious complications, including amputation.
For more information on foot care or to find a foot and ankle surgeon near you, visit FootHealthFacts.org, the patient education website of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.