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Foot Health Awareness Month: Giving our feet the special attention they deserve

April 11, 2017 By: D. Scott Covington, MD, FACS, CHWS, Chief Medical Officer


Editor’s note: the following is an excerpt Dr-c-4-11-17.jpgfrom an interview between the Healogics Blog and Dr. Scott Covington, the company’s Chief Medical Officer, on the topic of foot health awareness.

Healogics Blog: April is Foot Health Awareness Month. Can you tell us why foot health is important for everyone?

Dr. Covington: In essence, we need our feet! They are vital to virtually everything that enables us to remain independent, mobile human beings. According to foot care experts, the average person takes about 10,000 steps a day; this translates into more than three million steps per year. As such, we can truly appreciate the service that our feet provide on a daily basis. This should prompt us to recognize the challenges associated with foot health, and also motivate us to seek medical attention when necessary. April is National Foot Health Awareness month, so let’s remember to give our feet the special attention they deserve—this month and always. 

Healogics Blog: We see our feet every day, but rarely do anything with them other than put on our socks and shoes. What are some general things that people can do to better take care of their feet?

Dr. Covington: Good footcare begins with good general healthcare. Thus, a healthy diet, regular exercise, and not using tobacco products are always beneficial to foot health. Regular personal hygiene is also important. This starts with examining the feet on a consistent basis (as often as once a day for patients with certain health issues noted below). In addition, the toenails should be cautiously cleaned and trimmed at appropriate intervals. Corns and callouses (small patches of thickened skin due to friction or irritation) should be carefully managed. Also, protecting our feet with supportive footwear is very important. Selecting the appropriate socks and shoes, according to an individual’s occupation and level of activity, is an important decision. Oftentimes, a medical foot specialist (such as a pediatrist or pedorthist) can assist in this process. Finally, it’s important to wear the selected shoes on a regular basis, even when relaxing at home. This will help to avoid injuries to the feet. In summary, it’s very important to EXAMINE, MAINTAIN, and PROTECT the feet on a regular basis.

Healogics Blog: Let’s say someone does have an injury or a wound to the foot that hasn’t healed… How long should they let that go and what should they do?

Dr. Covington:  Unfortunately, some people with underlying diseases such as diabetes and circulatory issues are more prone to problems with their feet. These individuals often develop wounds or ulcers of the foot after even a small injury or irritation. Without proper treatment, serious complications that can jeopardize the health of the foot may arise. As such, they should perform a daily inspection of the foot (or have a family member do so). If an abnormality is identified, it’s important to promptly see a foot care specialist for a comprehensive examination and necessary treatment.

Healogics Blog: Why does diabetes pose such a problem for foot health?

Dr. Covington: Diabetic patients are challenged with a number of different health concerns that may make healing an injury very difficult. Specifically, many suffer from diabetic neuropathy. This condition impairs one’s ability to detect pain or injury to the foot. This is often seen in combination with poor circulation and decreased ability to fight infection. Thus, it’s easy to see that a relatively minor injury or foot problem can rapidly become a major concern, and occasionally lead to amputation of the toes or foot.

Healogics Blog: Thanks for your insights; what final thoughts would you like to share?

Dr. Covington: It’s been my pleasure. I’ll conclude with some interesting (and sobering) facts on diabetes and foot health:

  • It is estimated that 25% of all diabetics will develop a diabetic foot ulcer at some point in their lifetime.
  • In 2010, about 73,000 non-traumatic lower-limb amputations were performed on adults aged 20 years or older with diagnosed diabetes.
  • People with an amputation have an average mortality rate of 50% within five years of undergoing an amputation.
Sources:
  • http://www.aofas.org/footcaremd/how-to/foot-injury/Pages/default.aspx
  • http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/        
  • http://www.diabetesforecast.org/2012/dec/top-tips-for-better-foot-care-with-diabetes.html?referrer=http://google.diabetes.org/search?site=Diabetes&client=diabetes&entqr=3&oe=ISO-8859-1&ie=ISO-8859-1&ud=1&proxystylesheet=diabetes&output=xml_no_dtd&proxyreload=1&q=15%20percent%20of%20all%20diabetics%20will%20develop%20a%20diabetic%20foot%20ulcer
  • http://www.amputee-coalition.org/limb-loss-resource-center/resources-by-topic/limb-loss-statistics/limb-loss-statistics/