We all have our excuses for staying on the couch and watching another show instead of getting up to exercise, but according to a survey by woman practicing yoga on a mountainsidethe American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), 25% of us have the same excuse: foot pain is what’s keeping us from getting our sweat on.

According to survey results, not only is one out of every four adults unable to exercise because of foot pain, eight in 10 Americans (80%) have experienced a foot problem at some point in their adult lives.

With these numbers being reported, we should see 80% of Americans making regular visits to their podiatrists to address the underlying cause of their discomfort; sadly, this is not the case.

Why? Unlike other bodily illnesses or ailments, people seem to be under the impression that they can take care of (or ignore) their foot pain at home, until it magically goes away. Got a sprained ankle? Too many of you are just sitting on the couch with some ice, hoping things get better. Of course, that’s not the only foot problem too many people try to self-treat. There’s a whole host of over-the-counter treatments available for foot problems, many of which would be resolved far quicker (and with less complications) with just one or two visits to the doctor.

Common Foot Problems That Can (but Shouldn’t) Be Treated at Home

Let’s start by discussing the ankle sprain I just mentioned. While so many people are tempted to “walk off” this type of injury, it’s a terrible idea. Here’s why: even when you are able to bear weight on an injury, doing so may be exacerbating your existing injury. And, unless properly treated, a sprained ankle or other injury will not ever completely heal. While the pain may resolve, the injured spot will be weakened, ultimately leaving you vulnerable to re-injury or chronic discomfort.

Moving from our ankles to our toes, let’s talk athlete’s foot. I know that there are hundreds of products available at the drug store to treat this common type of foot fungus. And while some will help reduce the itching, odor and discomfort association with the condition, they often fail to kill all the bacteria that’s causing your problem. You know what that means, right? You guessed it: repeat infections.

And while we’re on the subject of toes, how about those annoying warts that keep popping up on your feet? Do you have them on the bottom of your feet, too (if you do, they get a fancy new name—plantar warts!) Once again, you could go the OTC-treatment route but, like with athlete’s foot, your treatments will take longer and may well leave behind residual infection, leaving you likely to find new warts popping up in nearby locations.

Of course, any discussion of feet and toes would be incomplete if I didn’t mention bunions. So many patients I see have already spent years buying painful bunions often need surgery to relieve painbigger shoes to accommodate their ever-expanding bunions. Did you know that, the longer you wait to treat those bunions, the bigger they will become? And, the bigger the bunion, the more invasive the treatment plan I’ll likely have to come up with? Here’s the deal: bunions won’t go away on their own, but when they are still small, we can treat them with simple interventions like shoe changes, pads and straps, when necessary. Also, once you come into the office, I can carefully monitor bunion growth; I’ll know right away if they start to get bigger, meaning it’s time for us to try a different treatment plan.

Exercise and Foot Pain

So many of us skip our workouts because our feet hurt, but did you know that, with the help of your podiatrist, you can get back in the gym, even during your treatment process?

Yes, you heard me: for some of you, the fear of being told to stop exercising is what’s keeping you away from my Houston podiatry practice. But this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Whenever possible, I work with my patients to keep them safely active, even during their rehabilitation and recovery period.

So, now that’ve I’ve taken away most of the excuses to stay away from the podiatrist’s office, let me give you one final message: if your feet hurt, see a foot doctor! Self-treatment of foot or ankle injuries won’t get you anywhere. If you are experiencing pain when you stand, walk or run, schedule an appointment with Dr. Andrew Schneider immediately. This is the only way to make sure you don’t get stuck in that irreversible couch-potato mode.

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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A podiatrist and foot surgeon in Houston, TX.
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