The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) today announced the results of its Today's Podiatrist survey, which measures the public's attitudes toward foot health. The study, which surveyed 1,000 US adults ages 18 and older, found the majority of Americans say they have experienced foot pain (77 percent), but only a third of those would seek expert care by a podiatrist.
Foot pain can have a profound impact on quality of life. Half of all adults say that foot pain has restricted their activities—like walking, exercising, working, or playing with grandchildren—in some way. For those with chronic foot pain, that number jumps to 83 percent. People say they would exercise more (39 percent) and participate in more activities (41 percent) if it weren't for their foot pain.
"It's not surprising to see how many people are affected by foot pain, when survey results show that we view our feet as the least important body part in terms of our overall health and wellbeing," said APMA President Frank Spinosa, DPM. "Our feet are literally and figuratively the furthest things from our minds."
While foot ailments are widespread, familiarity and experience with the podiatrists who treat them is considerably lower. Most adults would speak with their primary care physician (60 percent) or do a Web search (48 percent) to answer questions about foot health before considering a visit to a podiatrist.
"Podiatrists are physicians, surgeons, and specialists. They're ready and able to treat diseases, injuries, and deformities of the foot and ankle, as well as the foot problems Americans experience most often: heel pain, plantar fasciitis, nail fungus, and foot odor," said Dr. Spinosa. "They can also catch signs of diabetes, arthritis, and nerve and circulatory disorders, all of which can be detected in the feet."
The good news: Among those who have visited a podiatrist, 88 percent said their podiatrist was able to quickly provide a clear diagnosis, and 76 percent said their podiatrist was able to prescribe an effective treatment regimen and/or medication that helped their foot- or ankle-related issues improve or go away.
In addition, more than a third (34 percent) of those who visited a podiatrist said their podiatrist helped identify another health-related issue they had, such as diabetes, circulatory problems, or nerve issues. Those who have visited a podiatrist are also extremely satisfied with their care; in fact, more are satisfied than those who sought out a primary care physician for foot care.
"Foot pain is never normal, and it's critical that anyone experiencing chronic pain seeks care from an expert," said Dr. Spinosa. "We hope these findings encourage Americans to fight foot pain with the help of today's podiatrist."
American Podiatric Medical Association