GREENFIELD – According to the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society, the average person takes 10,000 steps each day and every step can place two to three times of body weight forces on the feet. April is National Foot Health Awareness Month -- a time when the experts at the Baystate Franklin Wound and Hyperbaric Medicine Center suggest people take a moment to stand up for their feet.
The Center treats chronic foot and leg wounds that are often caused by underlying conditions such as diabetes and vascular disease. It is estimated that 15% of all diabetics will develop a diabetic foot ulcer; without treatment, the wounds can lead to amputation or death.
"Foot health is important for everyone, especially those affected by diabetes. Working with your physician to help improve the health of your feet will ultimately improve your overall health and reduce your risk for foot ulcers and amputations,” said Scott Covington, MD, FACS, CHWS, chief medical officer with Healogics, which manages BFMC’s Wound and Hyperbaric Medicine Center, specializing in treatment of chronic wounds and non-responsive conditions. Located in Jacksonville, Florida, Healogics manages 800 Wound Care Centers® nationwide, utilizing an evidence-based systematic approach to chronic wound healing in treating an underserved and growing patient population.
The Centers for Disease Control has found that comprehensive foot care programs can reduce diabetes-related amputation rates by 45 to 85%. There are also preventative measures everyone can do to improve foot health. The Baystate Franklin Wound and Hyperbaric Medicine Center offers the following foot care tips:
• Don't ignore your feet. The National Institute on Aging cautions that foot health can be an indicator to certain conditions. For example, joint stiffness could mean arthritis, and tingling or numbness could be a sign of diabetes. Swelling might indicate kidney disease, heart disease or high blood pressure.
• Changes that occur in the feet as we age include the foot and ankle losing some of their normal range of motion and becoming stiffer while there can also be some loss of balance while walking.
• If your foot rolls too much toward the inside, it can lead to arch strain and pain on the inside of the knee. If your foot rolls too much to the outside, you're more susceptible to ankle sprains and stress fractures. Examine the bottom of a pair of well-worn shoes and if they show signs of excessive wear on the inner or outer sole, you might benefit from adding orthotic insoles in your shoes.
• Often the first sign of osteoporosis is a stress fracture in the foot, so it is important to get the proper daily requirements of calcium and vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium.
• To improve or maintain balance, consider adding programs such as yoga or Tai Chi to your exercise regimen.
• Sitting can be as important as standing. Crossing your legs can cause pressure on the nerves and blood vessels and cause possible damage.
• Medicare and many health care providers will reimburse a portion or all of the cost of shoes and custom inserts prescribed by a doctor. Don't buy more than one at a time since the size and shape of feet can change over time.
• People with diabetes shouldn’t rely on foot pain to alert them to a problem since diabetes can cause changes in the skin on the feet as well as nerve damage which can impair sensation of feeling. Each day, diabetics should visually inspect their feet and between their toes for blisters, cuts, red spots or swelling.
• Have your feet examined during doctor visits. Tell your doctor about any redness, blisters or wounds on your legs or feet.
• Seek medical treatment if a leg or foot wound has not healed in 30 days, or shows signs of infection such as increased pain, redness or swelling, foul wound odor or a change in color or amount of drainage from the wound.
The Baystate Franklin Wound and Hyperbaric Medicine Center offers comprehensive wound care and leading-edge treatments including hyperbaric oxygen therapy, negative pressure wound therapy, bio-engineered skin substitutes, biological and biosynthetic dressings and growth factor therapies.
For more information on the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers or chronic or infected wounds, contact Baystate Franklin Wound and Hyperbaric Medicine Center, 48 Sanderson Street, Greenfield; call 413-773-2441.
Headquartered in Jacksonville, FL., Healogics is the nation’s largest provider of advanced wound care services.