Steps in the Right Direction
Attention to Foot Health Important to Overall Health for Men
This week is Men’s Health Week, a time to focus on the health issues affecting men and boys in our country by encouraging them to seek out care, including prevention and treatment.
One aspect of men’s health that affects every man, in varying ways at varying ages, is foot health. According to Marc Claydon, DPM, Podiatric Surgery Specialist with Foot and Ankle Surgeons of Northern California, men put their feet at risk for problems through their lifestyle and activity choices.
“Studies have shown that men in general typically engage in more dangerous activities as well as labor-intensive jobs,” Dr. Claydon says. “That causes our feet to wear out more quickly as well as having more injuries in general to our bodies.”
Dr. Claydon explains that the biggest difference between men and women is that men frequently neglect their feet until they become a problem.
“This leaves large corns and calluses, sometimes ingrown toenails neglected until they become infected and have to be addressed,” he explains.
That tendency to ignore health issues until they become serious is consistent with many men’s health concerns. Experts from all specialties agree that men need to be more proactive in seeking preventive care and treatment, when needed.
In fact, Dr. Claydon says regularly examining one’s feet can help men to identify potential health concerns earlier.
“Performing routine foot checks on a daily basis to look for signs of breakdown in both the skin as well as in the toenail plates is very important,” he says.
Issues with the health of your feet and the skin on your feet may be associated with chronic conditions like diabetes. If your feet seem to have changed or if you notice an issue with your feet’s skin, Dr. Claydon says it is important to talk to your doctor.
One of the most common reasons men come to see Dr. Claydon is because of pain in the sole of their foot – a telltale sign of an all too common, and incredibly painful, condition.
“Certainly the most common reason that I see in my male patients is plantar fasciitis,” Dr. Claydon says. “The cause of plantar fasciitis is microtears in the medial band of the plantar fascia where it originates from the medial tubercle of the calcaneus (heel bone). This can be caused by a variety of reasons but is typically associated with an increase in activity or an increase in overall body mass. Over time these microtears turn into inflammation which causes significant pain, notably first step out of bed in the morning pain or post static dyskinesia pain that occurs after a period of rest.”
If you are diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, there are treatment options available. In general, the most effective long-term treatments are wearing supportive shoe gear and stretching on a daily basis. If these conservative measures fail, injections of corticosteroids can be very effective in the short-term.
“A small percentage of patients do go on to be diagnosed with chronic plantar fasciitis which at times does necessitate a procedure called a Plantar Fascial Release,” Dr. Claydon explains. “This can be done either minimally invasively via an endoscope or as an open procedure for more severe cases.”
Both procedures are performed under local anesthesia in an outpatient setting. The recovery is minimal and the patient can be weightbearing the same day.
For any man concerned about their foot health or hoping to keep their feet feeling good for years to come, Dr. Claydon has some simple advice.
“I really cannot overemphasize the importance of supportive shoe gear,” he says. “Particularly for people in construction or who are on their feet for the majority of the day. Steel-toed boots are incredibly import-ant for people who could potentially be dropping heavy objects on their feet.”
In fact, Dr. Claydon says he has learned the hard way to follow his own advice.
“I am an avid woodwork-er and up until recently was wearing tennis shoes to work on my projects,” he explains. “I unfortunately dropped a walnut board on my right foot about a year ago and fractured two toes. This incident further reinforced my thoughts on wearing not only supportive shoe gear but also protective shoe gear when dealing with heavy items.”
Dr. Claydon encourages his male patients to stay active and pursue their interests – just be sure to wear the proper footwear when you do.
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