by Dr. Steven Waldman
For Women, Foot Pain is Never Normal.
Dr. Steven Waldman is a board certified foot and ankle specialist who has been in practice in the Milwaukee area for 24 years. He is a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (FACFAS) and is a member of the American Podiatric Medical Society, and the American Diabetes Association. Contact Dr. Waldman at www.milwaukeefoot.com
In our world, women face a strenuous mix of family, work, fitness, and fashion expectations. The results can be painful. Pain in general is your body is telling you to stop what you are doing. Foot pain is never normal. It can be a cardinal sign of more critical issues to come – precursors to a serious injury.
Women can experience a range of painful foot problems. Things we can control, such as our footwear choices, are often the cause. Unfortunately, foot pain can also be rooted in things that we cannot control, such as genetics or injuries. Overall, women are four times as likely as men to have foot problems.
Most women find that they have less foot pain when wearing a shoe with a little bit of a heel. Women with high arches can wear high heels more easily – their feet are naturally more rigid and the heels provide support. These women are, however, more prone to pain in the ball of the foot.
Common problems include Morton’s Neuroma, a thickening of the tissue around a nerve in the ball of your foot. Most frequently occurring in the area between your third and fourth toe, it causes a sharp, burning pain.
More than half of American women have bunions. Don’t blame fashion designers – bunions are not caused solely by shoes. They are primarily congenital and related to mechanical problems of the foot. They are much more common in people who are flat-footed – men and women alike.
Other common issues include hammertoes, corns, calluses, and Metatarsalgia, or inflammation and pain in the ball of your foot.
Diabetics may not even experience foot pain from these issues and others. This is due to diabetic neuropathy, or a loss of sensation in the extremities. Therefore, it is recommended that diabetics get a yearly foot exam, and always wear appropriate shoes as recommended by a podiatrist. Shoes approved for diabetics reduce shock, or impact, and shear – rubbing that can lead to blisters and other injuries. These shoes can prevent problems that could lead to infection and even amputation.
People who are at risk for infections and amputations – those with serious health issues, such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and poor circulation – need to be concerned with always wearing appropriate footwear and protection against the cold, such as warm shoes and socks. Diabetics should avoid going barefoot, even at home.
Foot pain can be serious, but there are options for treatment. Relief can be as simple as choosing the right footwear, having orthotics made for custom support, stretching, and strengthening exercises. A board certified podiatrist can advise on these therapy options as well as injections or surgical treatment.