SPRINGFIELD, PA — According to the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society, the average person takes 10,000 steps each day and every step can place two to three times of body weight forces on the feet. April is National Foot Health Awareness Month, a time when the experts at the Crozer-Keystone Centers for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine suggest people take a moment to stand up for their feet.
The Centers, located at Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Upland and Delaware County Memorial Hospital in Drexel Hill, treat chronic, non-responsive foot and leg wounds that are often caused by underlying conditions such as diabetes and vascular disease. It is estimated that 15 percent of all diabetics will develop a diabetic foot ulcer, and without treatment the wounds can lead to amputation or death.
Foot health is important for everyone, especially those affected by diabetes. Working with your physician to help improve the health of your feet will ultimately improve your overall health and reduce your risk for foot ulcers and amputations. “Diabetes is a manageable condition,” says Bruce Greenfield, D.P.M., medical director of the DCMH Wound Center. “Eating the right foods, exercising and working hard to keep your blood sugars under control will make you feel great overall.”
The Centers for Disease Control has found that comprehensive foot care programs can reduce diabetes- related amputation rates by 45 to 85 percent. “Although diabetics must pay extra attention to wounds on their feet, there are preventative measures everyone can do to improve foot health,” says William Mannella, M.D., medical director of the Crozer Wound Center. The experts at the DCMH and Crozer Wound Centers offer the following foot care tips:
- Don’t ignore your feet. The National Institute on Aging cautions that foot health can be an indicator to certain conditions. For example, joint stiffness could mean arthritis, and tingling or numbness could be a sign of diabetes. Swelling might indicate kidney disease, heart disease or high blood pressure.
- Changes that occur in the feet as we age include the foot and ankle losing some of their normal range of motion and becoming stiffer. There can also be some loss of balance while walking.
- If your foot rolls too much toward the inside, it can lead to arch strain and pain on the inside of the knee. If your foot rolls too much to the outside, you’re more susceptible to ankle sprains and stress fractures. Examine the bottom of a pair of well-worn shoes and if they show signs of excessive wear on the inner or outer sole, you might benefit from adding orthotic insoles in your shoes.
- Often the first sign of osteoporosis is a stress fracture in the foot, so it is important to get the proper daily requirements of calcium and vitamin D (which helps your body absorb calcium).
- To stay steady on your feet, consider adding programs that include balance training such as Tai Chi and yoga to your exercise regimen.
- Sitting can be as important as standing. Crossing your legs can cause pressure on the nerves and blood vessels and cause possible damage.
- Medicare and many health care providers will reimburse a portion or all of the cost of shoes and custom inserts prescribed by a doctor. Don’t buy more than one at a time since the size and shape of feet change over time.
- People with diabetes can’t rely on foot pain to alert them to a problem. Diabetes can cause changes in the skin on the feet as well as nerve damage, which can impair sensation of feeling. Each day, diabetics should visually inspect their feet and between their toes for blisters, cuts, red spots and swelling.
- Have your feet examined during doctor visits, and tell your doctor about any redness, blisters or wounds on your legs or feet.
- Seek medical treatment if a leg or foot wound has not healed in 30 days, or shows signs of infection such as increased pain, redness or swelling, foul wound odor, or a change in color or amount of drainage from the wound.
The Crozer-Keystone Centers for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine offer comprehensive wound care and leading-edge treatments including hyperbaric oxygen therapy, negative pressure wound therapy, bio-engineered skin substitutes, biological and biosynthetic dressings and growth factor therapies.