The relationship between foot pain and falls

Chronic foot pain is an unfortunate condition,but it’s one I see often with New Yorkers in my office. Its causes are varied: bunions, hammertoes, arthritis, and undiagnosed injuries to ligaments or bones can all play a part, sometimes thanks to genetics and other matters that are beyond human control. And this pain impacts more than just comfort; it can also lead to a greater risk of falling.

In a recent government study of 1375 patients with a mean age of 69 years, foot pain was found to be associated with a 62 percent increased risk of recurrent falls. As a matter of fact, the patients who self-identified as having moderate or severe foot pain (as opposed to mild pain) had higher odds of suffering two or more falls.

This study might sound shocking, but it makes sense. Our feet are the closest thing to the ground when we move, so failing parts would understandably cause a lack of instability. This can be especially dangerous for those already struggling with mobility issues or worried about weak or damaged joints having serious breaks.

So what does this mean for you? Several things.

One, prevention is key. If you are worried about falls, you can focus on building up strength in your lower body, including your abs, legs, and feet and ankles. Keeping them in shape can help you stay stable when moving and recover faster when there is a chance of a fall. Researchers note that balance training with wobble boards and other devices can prove helpful. Additionally, you can work with a physical therapist to identify specific body parts that would benefit from strength training. Finally, you can make sure you have in the right shoes when you are mobile. Avoid heels, flip flops, and other unsupportive shoes, and instead be fitted for wide shoes that offer arch support and even custom orthotics made to fit your feet. You might even find it helpful to wear shoes around your house, where falls are common.

Two, it’s important to seek professional care. While it might be tempting to address your mobility and balance issues on your own, seeking advice and direction from a trained foot and ankle specialist is really your best bet. In many cases, a highly skilled foot and ankle surgeon can target problems directly to reduce your chance of falling by tackling its root cause: chronic pain. This might mean a surgical procedure, stem cell therapy, or extended physical therapy. Regardless, the focus will be on fixing your issue before it escalates.

Foot and ankle pains are no fun–especially when they complicate your life. If you’re ready for a change, we want to help. Call or stop in today for more information about your options.

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Dr. Hubbard’s goal as a Foot and Ankle Surgeon is to provide expertise in achieving an accurate diagnosis, implementing exceptional surgical technique whenever indicated, and most importantly, utilizing practical judgment to devise an effective individualized treatment plan that will restore the patient’s foot or ankle health and function, improving their overall quality of life.