All of us are aware that obesity has a detrimental effect on our bodies. However, our awareness is usually focused on health issues such as heart disease and diabetes. The truth is that being overweight affects the entire body, and all its systems – and its effect on our feet are not often considered.
Your feet are responsible for bearing the weight of your body as you walk around. In the process, they absorb the impact of striking the ground while bearing the strain imposed by your body weight.
How Excess Weight Affects Your Feet
Obesity places an atypical, increased amount of weight on your legs resulting in instant physical stress on the structures and soft tissues of your feet. Over time, it is possible to wear down your feet, or physically alter their shape. Fallen arches and pronation (standing or walking slightly on the side of the feet) are a common side effect of being overweight. In addition, connective tissues are forced to stretch out more, fat pads under your feet are compressed, and your muscles will have an increased work load to deal with. In summary, extra weight changes the way your foot functions.
If left untreated, fallen arches and pronation will lead quickly to additional problems. Ligaments connecting the heel to the toe become swollen given rise to sharp pain all over the feet.
According to research, there is a clear link between foot and ankle problems and an individual’s weight. Individuals with a higher body mass index (BMI – a correlation between your weight and height) are more susceptible to foot and ankle problems. A study shows that even a modest increase in body weight of about 5-10 pounds can trigger foot problems.
Foot and ankle pain occurs in weight-bearing areas. The extra weight puts more pressure on your lower limbs and spending time on your feet can become extremely uncomfortable. You also stand the risk of developing problems like tendonitis and plantar fasciitis.
As mentioned earlier, obesity affects the heart, resulting in increased heart rate. It also raises the risk of diabetes. Because the feet are the body parts furthest away from the heart, they are the first to be affected by circulatory problems. Due to irregularity and poor blood supply, obesity usually triggers numbness of the feet. It is also possible to develop small injuries without noticing them. With poor circulation, these injuries often heal slowly and may contract an infection. This in itself could lead to amputation if proper wound care and treatment are not carried out.
We all understand the effect of regular exercise in keeping fit. Individuals with weight-related foot conditions find it difficult to engage in any physical activity to reduce weight. The downside to that is additional weight gain, since they are missing out on much-needed exercise.
Other common problems associated with obesity include arthritis, fractures, and sprains of the ankle, ball-of-foot pain, damaged joints of feet and ankle, among other issues.
Treating Foot and Ankle Pain
If you are overweight and suffering from any of these problems, it is advisable that you consult a podiatrist. A foot specialist will be able to diagnose the issue and provide treatments designed to alleviate points pressure, strain and friction on damaged parts of the foot and ankle. However, an effective, long-term treatment should involve weight loss and routine foot care.
Obesity and foot pain are highly correlated. At Houston Foot and Ankle Care we see all types of patients, but many are dealing with higher BMI and require treatment in order to improve their quality of life. If you are suffering from pain, swelling, or slow-healing wounds, call (713) 541-3199 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Gabriel Maislos, DPM, FACFAS. Foot pain is not natural, and we’ll do everything we can to get you back on your feet!
Call (713) 541-3199 if you experience:
- numbness in the foot or ankle
- pain while walking or standing
- slow-healing blisters or wounds on the feet