Foot health Q&A with Dr. Desai

Q: I’m new to exercising, what precautions do I need to take for my feet?

A: In general people new to exercising should make sure they are fit to begin an exercise program and a visit to their primary care doctor.  As far as their feet a well fitting comfortable pair of shoes is a good idea, and probably most importantly gradually increase your exercise time and intensity.  Going from no activity to a lot of exercising can cause stress fractures as well as other injuries.

Q: I’m a diabetic and overweight, what precautions do I need to take?

A: Diabetics should wear a comfortable pair of shoes which are not too tight and are not putting and pressure in any one specific area.  One potential complication of diabetes is neuropathy or numbness of the foot.  Due to this they can step on an object and never know it due to the numbness.  So it is very important for diabetics to regularly perform detailed foot exams of themselves, to make sure there are no cuts, puctures etc….Also some diabetics can develop foot deformities and therefore they need custom shoes or orthotics.  It is a good idea to touch base with a foot and ankle orthopaedic specialist to arrange this if needed prior to starting the program.

Q: What changes in my feet should I expect during pregnancy?

A: Pregnancy and cause the feet to swell, so some women when pregnant may have to go up a size or half size to make sure their shoes are too tight.  Also due to the swelling some nerves in the foot can become compressed which can lead to numbness often in the bottom of the foot, so this is good to be aware of and if needed adjust shoes.  Another possible issue that can occur during pregnancy is ligamentous laxity or ligaments becoming loose due to the hormones associated with pregnancy.  Sometimes ankle sprains can occur due to this and if this happens they need to be treated appropriately.

Q: Are there certain precautions I should take for my feet and ankles during the winter months?

A: Well I think the main issue I see is people slipping on ice and getting foot and ankle fractures.  In the winter months it is very important to be aware of your surroundings so this doesn’t happen.  Also appropriate socks should be worn to keep the feet warm and if the socks get wet it is important to remove them to avoid frostbite.

Q: What are some of the greatest misconceptions regarding foot and ankle health? 

A: I think the biggest misconception I see is that ankle sprains are no big deal and don’t require seeing a doctor.  Ankle sprains are actually stretching or tearing of the ligaments on the outside and sometimes the inside of the ankle.  They need to be evaluated by a specialist and the appropriate care is very important, including the appropriate rehabilitation to insure that further issues don’t develop in the future.  Neglecting an ankle sprain can lead to such issues as ankle instability which is when the ankle can sprain very easily because the ligaments of the outside of the ankle don’t function correctly.

Q: Does being overweight cause particular problems for the feet and ankles? 

A: Being overweight certainly puts more pressure on the joints, and has some role in wearing away of the cartilage ie arthritis of the ankle and foot.  Exactly what role it has development in arthritis is still being studied.

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