Benefits of Foot Exams for the Whole Family
“Family Foot Care of Jasper” isn’t just a friendly-sounding name. It’s not just about making people feel at ease and comfortable in our office—though that’s certainly part of it!
When we say “family,” we really mean the whole family. That means no matter how young or old you are, your foot health is an important part of your overall quality of life. Proactive care, getting your feet checked at appropriate intervals, and addressing painful issues quickly is just as important whether you’re 9 months, 9 years, or 90 years old.
Far too often, our first meeting with a new patient happens later in life, after months or even years of struggle with a bunion, collapsed arch, thick toenails, or skin problems. People often see podiatry as a medical specialty of last resort, only there to help with painful problems later in life.
While we’re 100% happy to help you no matter your age or situation, many problems can be prevented before they become severe by making foot exams a more routine part of your life, and checking up on a problem at the earliest stages, rather than near the end!
Benefits for Children
Many common foot disorders—flat feet, gait abnormalities, rotational misalignments, chronic ingrown toenails, etc.—become apparent during childhood. Some problems are already obvious before or shortly after birth. Others might not be noticeable until after the child begins walking.
The common thread is that childhood foot problems are almost always best addressed during childhood. Many of these conditions, if left untreated, will persist into adulthood. They may get worse, and will only get more difficult to treat successfully as time goes on.
Children are also likely to sustain injuries to their feet and ankles as they approach and reach adolescence, especially those who are active in sports. At this time their bones and joints still haven’t fully matured, making them more susceptible to damage, including heel pain and sprained ankles. These conditions can usually be treated conservatively, but that doesn’t mean you can underestimate them. For example, an ankle sprain that doesn’t heal correctly can directly cause future sprains, or even chronic pain, instability, and arthritis in the ankle later in life.
Often, it’s wise to take a young child to see us very early in life to get a good baseline examination. It’s also important to address any signs of infection, injury, or discomfort as soon as possible. That includes everything from ingrown toenails and warts to more serious sports injuries. Take your child’s complaints of pain seriously, and If you detect any of the telltale signs of discomfort—limping, resisting shoe wear, avoiding activity, etc.—give us a call. Better safe than sorry.
Benefits for Parents and Working-Age Adults
Young and middle-aged adults have a lot on their plates. Working full time. Raising the generation below and caring for the aging generation above. And after all that, still trying to find some time for the old hobbies, whether that’s bicycling, hiking, running, playing tennis, etc. It’s a lot of wear and tear on the feet!
At the same time, as you get into your 30s, 40s, and 50s, you begin to lose some muscle mass. Your tendons and ligaments might not be quite as flexible as they once were. You might not be ready to give up running or playing sports, but with so much to do during the week you might end up more of a “weekend warrior.” All these things significantly increase your risk of developing both chronic (heel pain, stress fractures, shin splints, etc.) and traumatic injuries. This age range is also prime time for deformities like flat feet and bunions to emerge.
Many people in this age group feel like they don’t have time to slow down and deal with a nagging foot issue, or that pain is just a normal part of getting older. But that just isn’t true! Quite often, you can make smart adjustments (new shoes, modifications to your workstation, physical therapy, orthotics, etc.) to reduce the wear and tear on y our feet. And if a deformity is beginning to form, you want to intervene immediately to slow the progression and prevent surgery.
Caring for your feet daily and getting a checkup whenever they start to act up can significantly reduce your daily pain, increase your quality of life, and help you keep up with your hectic schedule!
Benefits for Those with Diabetes
Diabetes is most common among middle-aged and older adults, but it’s a disease that can affect any person at any age. Foot wounds, nerve damage, and injuries to the feet are very typical complications. Failure to act on these complications could even lead to the loss of your feet, if an amputation becomes necessary to contain a severe infection.
Anyone with diabetes should be getting a regular checkup at our office at least once per year. (If you have a history of foot problems, we may ask to see you more frequently than this.) This is important even if you “feel fine,” since some complications (including neuropathy and poor circulation) may be detectable by testing before symptoms become apparent.
During your yearly checkup, we’ll test you for these and other complications as well as provide any routine foot care you may need (nail trimming, skin care, etc.). If your feet are at higher risk of injury, we may wish to fit you for custom orthotics and/or diabetic shoes as a proactive, preventative measure.
Benefits for Seniors
Healthy feet in the golden years can significantly improve the life of almost any senior citizen. They are your foundation, and if you take good care of them you can maintain higher levels of mobility and ultimately remain independent in your own home for longer. Who doesn’t want that?
Declining activity, aging muscles and bones, and even declining eyesight can lead to balance and stability issues, increasing fall risk dramatically. Even one bad fall can permanently decrease your mobility and activity levels, even if you fully “heal” from the initial injury.
There are other physical changes to account for as well, including thickening toenails, slowing circulation, and skin that’s faster to dry out and become cracked. Feet also tend to flatten with age, and can increasingly feel swollen and sore during and after activity.
While no one can permanently turn back the hands of time, regular foot checks and care can significantly improve your quality of life and keep you as active as possible as long as possible. We can not only help with the basics of maintenance, but also provide or recommend physical therapy, balance exercises, fall risk assessments, braces and orthotics, arthritis and neuropathy treatments, and other important care options to keep your feet in top shape.
Bring the Whole Family!
So, we hope you can see at this point we really do mean “family” when we say we provide comprehensive foot and ankle care for the whole family! If you or someone you care about is suffering, please stop by and see us. You can request an appointment online or give us a call any time at (812) 481-7200.