Wednesday, April 13, 2005

What’s Crushing Your Feet? Orthopaedic surgeons discuss survey and preventive measures to curb foot problems among the overweight.

Press Release

At some point in life, everyone experiences foot pain. Whether it is a temporary or persistent problem, pain in the ankle, heel, arch or toes can limit physical activity, causing a great deal of stress on a person’s life. According to a survey by the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS), unveiled today at the 72nd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, foot and ankle problems can be linked to an individual’s weight and body mass index (BMI).

The survey, presented by orthopaedic surgeons Stuart D. Miller, MD (photo), member of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore, Sharon M. Dreeben, MD, chairman of AOFAS’ Public Education Committee, and Glenn B. Pfeffer, MD, immediate past president of AOFAS, asked 6157 respondents, with the mean age of 34.5 years and average body mass index (BMI) of 27.9 kg/m2, online about foot and ankle problems. People with the BMI of 18.5 – 24.9 kg/m2 are classified as normal, 25.0 – 29.9 kg/m2 are considered overweight and above 30.0 kg/m2 are obese.

The results showed a correlation between overweight participants - as measured by the BMI, which is calculated by dividing weight by height - and foot problems. Statistical analysis found an increased BMI for those with current foot and ankle pain. Patients who had prior foot surgery or who had previously seen a physician about foot and ankle pain seemed to have a higher BMI. Also, 40.8 percent of the respondents reported weight gain prior to the onset of pain.

While problems vary from patient to patient, foot and ankle pain often occurs in weight bearing areas, as well as in the tendons and ligaments. Common foot problems include posterior tibial tendonitis, pain in the tendon that runs along the inside of the ankle and the foot; plantar fasciitis, an inflammation in the thick ligamentous connective tissue that runs from the heel to the ball of the foot; and hindfoot arthritis, an inflammation in the back part of the foot.

“An uncomfortable shoe can lead to more serious foot problems,” said Dr. Miller. “It is important to wear proper shoes, because in the long run, fashion is not worth the price of pain.”


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