Imagine this: with every mile you walk, your feet receive from approximately 200,000 to 300,000 pounds of stress! Some doctors estimate that by the time we turn 50, our feet will have walked nearly 75,000 miles. It’s no wonder then that doctors are beginning to sound the alarm about the importance of protecting our feet. Our feet play an incredibly important role in our everyday lives (and in our health), yet we seldom stop to think about their importance. Many orthopedic experts estimate that our feet are the cause of many orthopedic disorders that can lead to long-term disability. As we age, doctors tell us, our feet begin to lose their natural elasticity and flexibility. For those who have been diagnosed with arthritis, taken poor care of one’s feet will only compound the symptoms of the condition. Feet that are worn down and not cared for properly will affect the rest of the body, including aching joints and muscles. Think of feet as the tires of our body. Like a car on a long journey, the longer we drive our body towards movement, the more we wear out our feet.
The good news is that with care and attention, our feet can take us a long way. Protecting your feet can help head off arthritis and other foot disorders. If you have already been diagnosed with some form of arthritis, there is still much you can do to keep your feet in good health. Preventing further foot damage is important to stay in good health. If you already have arthritis, make an appointment with a podiatrist, rheumatologist, or orthopedic surgeon if you are concerned about the state of your feet. Try to find a specialist who has experience with your particular symptoms. For instance, if you have rheumatoid arthritis, try to find a rheumatologist who understands the importance of good foot health. If you decide to visit a podiatrist, find one who is experienced in working with arthritis patients. What can you expect from your first visit? Your doctor should take your full medical history. They will conduct a physical examination and, if necessary, may take X-rays of your feet. X-rays are the best ways to determine if you have any serious foot problems. If it is determined so, your doctor should prescribe a specific treatment plan.
Besides visiting a foot specialist, there are several simple steps you can take to ensure good foot health. The most important step you can take is to make sure you are wearing properly fitted shoes. Many people wear ill-fitting shoes on an almost regular basis. Ill-fitting shoes can cause a variety of problems, including bunions, neuroma, and hammertoes. These are all conditions wherein the foot begins to take the form of the shoe. Wearing more comfortable shoes can go a long ways to ensuring good foot health. If you suffer from arthritis, it is particularly important to wear properly fitted shoes. Many arthritis patients often lose their natural foot arch. Look for shoes with arch support. This can help reduce the inflammation that occurs when the joint capsules become stretched out due to too-tight shoes.