Good Podiatric Care Helps More Than Feet
Recent research has confirmed what we at the New York State Podiatric Medical Association have known for a long time: the healthcare benefits of podiatric services extend way beyond a patient’s feet and ankles. Your feet are impacted by your overall health and vice versa. In fact, in many instances, the feet serve as a kind of “early warning system,” revealing the first symptoms of systemic diseases and conditions that affect the entire body. Neuropathy and slow healing foot wounds, for example, can point to previously undiagnosed diabetes or peripheral arterial disease. Below are 4 ways that a 2017 study by Navigant Consulting showed that podiatric treatment can improve quality of life and overall health:
1. Podiatric care has the potential to reduce hospital admissions for foot ulcers by approximately 13,500 patients annually. Regular checkups with a foot doctor provide many benefits for diabetic patients. Foot doctors are able to spot and monitor changes in the foot that can lead to ulcers. They can also assist with routine care such as toenail grooming, foot hygiene and the treatment of warts and fungal infections—all of which can lead to dangerous infections in diabetic patients. Another large role that podiatric care plays in diabetic health is educating patients on appropriate self-care and being vigilant about warning signs in their feet and ankles.
2. Reduce falls over a 12-month period by 36% in individuals that have an increased risk of falls. When your feet hurt you tend to alter the way you walk to stop the pain. This can lead to an awkward gait that throws you off balance and greatly increases your risk of falling. Diagnosing foot conditions promptly and treating them significantly reduces this risk.
3. Podiatric services may be associated with a reduction of opioid dispensation for 18,000 people per year. Proper rehabilitation and treatment of foot ailments and injuries can result in patients being pain-free or at the very least experiencing a much reduced and more manageable amount of pain. Foot doctors can prescribe custom orthotics, shoe modifications, physical therapy and exercise to get relief from pain and inflammation caused by many foot disorders.
4. A 19% reduction in the chance of a subsequent inpatient admission to the hospital among obese persons receiving services by a podiatrist. Being obese significantly increases the risk and severity of many lower extremity problems. Treatment by a podiatrist for these problems, coupled with patient education about healthy ways to lose weight can lead to positive outcomes which are reinforced by increased mobility.
Getting regular podiatric checkups and prompt treatment for foot, toe and ankle problems should be part of your pro-active healthy lifestyle. If you need a podiatrist in your area, New York Foot Health can help you find one. To learn more about foot health issues, contact us or subscribe to our free e-newsletter.