We have read the reasons for "pandemic foot" and what the doctors have figured out as to why this is occurring - now we get to find out about all the aches and pains that you can get. Plantar Fasciitis, Metatarsalgia, Neuromas, and Bunions to name just a few of the prognoses that you can get when you don't take care of your feet. The article in the newspaper (yes the actual paper newspaper) was informative and timely. Many of our clients are new to foot ailments and much of this information is key to taking care of your feet. Please keep reading to get the doctor's perspective as well as some of my own notes to make it a little more practical.
I wanted to share this article - interjecting some of (my opinions) - here and there. Watch for the final installment in a few days. (Please see the reference for the original post)
Some of the most common foot ailments occur simply because the foot is under increased strain during the pandemic. Perhaps you opted to walk long distances instead of use public transportation or went barefoot at home. “People don’t realize how much mileage they put on walking and standing in their houses,” Positano said.
(Many people wear their shoes for too long. Most athletic shoes are designed to compress over a 6 -12 month period. Making the shoe uncomfortable and straining for your feet. It is still about the mileage, not always how long you've owned them )
Ms. Fahs was diagnosed with one such overuse injury, plantar fasciitis, where the ligament under the foot that supports the arch becomes inflamed, often felt as pain in the heel. “I knew what it was because my brother, sister and one of my best friends all got it recently, too,” she said. (This diagram shows one area of pain. The Plantar Fascia stretches from your heel to your toes - you can have pain anywhere and everywhere in between.)
Metatarsalgia is another overuse injury, similarly caused by inflammation, but in the toe joints, which causes pain in the ball of the foot. (This can also lead to a Neuroma which is an inflamed nerve in between the toe joints. It can swell and then feel like someone is stabbing you with a hot poker in the foot!) For those starting ambitious running routines right out of
the pandemic gates, Achilles’ tendinitis has been a common diagnosis.
The tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel bone and with a sudden increase in use, it can become irritated and swell.
These injuries can impact more than foot health. If they are not addressed, they can “go up the chain,” and cause knee, hip and back pain. “People think they are falling apart, but they are not,” Positano said. “They are overusing their feet.” (Everything is ground up. Mess with your feet and it can affect you all the way to your shoulders.)
Overuse injuries aren’t the only reasons people have been feeling foot pain lately. Dr. Priya Parthasarathy, a Maryland-based podiatric surgeon, has also seen an uptick in toe and foot fractures. Some are caused, she said, by accidentally kicking furniture — a result of being home and barefoot more often — and tripping and falling awkwardly over pets. “You see one, then you see two, then three and then four,” she said of such pet-related fractures, “and you’re like, ‘Wait, there’s definitely a connection here.’” (I don't know about you - but I think I have broken my little toe on the corner of my furniture at least 3-4 times!)
Meanwhile, Dr. Judith Baumhauer, an orthopedic surgeon at University of Rochester Medical Center, has been removing more bunions, which are bony protrusions at the base of the big toe. Without supportive shoes, the foot can splay — actually widen — and the anatomical structures can change. Among other issues, this can aggravate bunions. (I don't think your feet actually widen per se - your feet get used to not being all bottled up. After the bone starts to change - it just gets worse the more you go barefoot, wear high heels or improper footwear. Bunions can be caused by a lot of things and improper footwear is the biggie, but sadly don't discount genetics. Mom, Dad or Grandma could've passed down those bunions for you to deal with...)
“They let their feet do whatever they wanted,” Baumhauer said, “and now that they have to go back to work, their feet are rebelling.” Jacquelyn Dylla, an associate professor of clinical physical therapy at the University of Southern California, said one of the biggest triggers was people doing too much too fast. Many of us have undergone atrophy and bone density loss from inactivity without noticing it, making it harder to stabilize ourselves on uneven surfaces.
More weight on the foot
Baumhauer said that pandemic weight gain may also be to blame for the rise in foot discomfort. She explained that even an extra couple of pounds makes an impact. “It’s literally just physics,” she said, explaining that the foot takes on four times the force of our body weight when walking. Losing or gaining five pounds would be a change of “20 pounds to their ankle and foot,” she said. (While, yes, this is true - please be aware that petite figures have problems with their feet too. It's more a matter of all that you're doing to your feet - not just the weight.)
Too much too fast
Jacquelyn Dylla, an associate professor of clinical physical therapy at the University of Southern California, said one of the biggest triggers was people doing too much too fast. Many of us have undergone atrophy and bone density loss from inactivity without noticing it, making it harder to stabilize ourselves on uneven surfaces. “Smaller injuries are causing more catastrophic problems,” she said. “I have patients who look like they were in a car accident,” she added, “but they just rolled their ankle during a hike.”
Even young children, after a year or two doing virtual school, are experiencing issues as they jump headlong into sports. “You have a kid sitting at home every day for a year going straight into cross-country practice,” Parthasarathy said.
(The thing I want to add to this....
As a 50-something there are so many more people my age and older that are SO MUCH MORE active than our parent's generation but especially our grandparent's generation. My Uncle climbed Mount Kilimanjaro a few years ago - he already had his AARP card for few years by then.
At 50 - 60 my grandparents were retired, sitting on the houseboat and playing cards with their friends - maybe doing some serious gardening - but that was about it. NOW this age and older is much more active - working and playing - but your body is rebelling - especially your feet. Take care off your feet and the rest will follow.
These are all the same things I tell my clients in the store - it's all maintenance. Once any of these symptoms hit you - this is your life - you just have to be smart about it.)
to be continued....