Did you know that by age 50, the average American will have walked approximately 75,000 miles in their lifetime?
That is the equivalent of walking around the world three times.
Because of that, it is important that you take care of your feet. The best way to do that is to routinely see a podiatrist. Now, it’s become clear that there is a lot of confusion around what exactly a podiatrist does and when you should see them. So, in honor of April being Foot Health Awareness month, the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) and Illinois Podiatric Medical Association (IPMA) are seeking to educate the public about the impact podiatrists can have on individuals’ day-to-day health.
Be on the lookout for TV commercials from the IPMA about the importance of seeing a podiatrist and keep your eyes open for billboards around the Chicago area with information about podiatrists and the IPMA.
Since there is some confusion, let’s start with what exactly a podiatrist does. A podiatrist is a doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM) who is both a physician and a surgeon who treats the foot, ankle, and related structures of the leg.
Podiatrists are important because your feet are important. Did you know that your feet have one-fourth of all the bones in your body? As the APMA website states, “Feet are complex anatomical structures, all-in-one stabilizers, shock absorbers, and propulsion engines that are instrumental to overall health and well-being. They require expert care.”
If you break your foot or ankle, for example, you should see a podiatrist. It’s a podiatrist who has the most detailed understanding of the foot and ankle and can provide you with the best care and treatment.
Speaking of care, here are some staggering statistics about Americans and the health of their feet:
81% of obese Americans say they suffer from foot pain
60% of obese Americans said that foot pain restricts their regular activity
Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z all reported that their number one foot issue was sweaty feet and foot odor
Remember, it is not “normal” to have foot pain or discomfort. Only a small percentage of the population is born with foot problems, which means it is neglect and a lack of awareness that brings on problems. From wearing ill-fitting shoes to trying to justify discomfort, Americans are living with pain they don’t necessarily need to experience.
You see your primary doctor once a year for a general checkup. Consider seeing a podiatrist once a year as well to make sure that your feet are as healthy as they can be.
Thomas L. Joseph is the Executive Director of the Illinois Podiatric Medical Association.