Don’t persevere with pain…— DAVID TOLLAFIELD, PODIATRIST AND FOOT HEALTH JOURNALIST
159 respondents at the Conference of Podiatry 2019 provided interesting insights into their foot pain case loads. In this article I reflect on the results and implications for people suffering from foot pain.
Click HERE to see the full War on Foot Pain Pilot Survey Results or read my summary below. The survey was designed in collaboration with Aussies Soles. 98% of podiatrists said they would recommend Aussie Soles as a healthy alternative to flat sandals. 87% of podiatrists included supportive/cushioning footwear in their treatment of foot pain (download Aussie Soles’ PDF HERE).
Q1 Which of the following foot pain problems have you treated in the last month?
Plantar Fasciitis was the most frequently seen condition followed by Bunions and Metatarsalgia. All 3 cause severe discomfort. Do not persevere with pain as it may not go – best to get a checkup.
Q2 What proportion of your patients suffer from plantar fasciitis/ fasciopathy?
1 in 5 patients (or more) suffered from plantar fasciitis according to half of the 159 podiatrists surveyed. 1 in 10 of us is likely to suffer from plantar fasciitis at some point in our lives.
Q3 Which of the following have you included in a plantar fasciitis treatment plan?
Stretching came 1st. Followed by supportive footwear and orthotic use to reduce stress on the arch. Avoid surgery by getting help early (ideally within 3 – 6 months). Try these self help tips.
Q4 Arch support is an important part of the treatment of plantar fasciitis
97% Agree. An ‘arch support’, is used here to describe a mechanical variation on the insole bed within a shoe (this contour needs to be the right fit and comfortable to be effective). Think of it as assisting a treatment plan and providing a prophylactic aid against pain returning!
Q5 Wearing shoes without arch support can cause foot pain in general
83% Agree. These results surprised me. I can see this might be the case in certain circumstances but I would not rush to throw out all of your flat shoes – unless they are causing you pain right now.
Q6 Putting on arch support shoes helps avoid ‘first step’ pain or ‘early morning foot pain’
88% Agree. Wearing arch support shoes around the house could help patients comply with the ‘supportive footwear’ treatment. Keep a pair by the bed (for hygiene, not your outdoor shoes).
Q7 When buying open-shoes how important are these design elements to foot health?
Arch support came 1st. ‘Stable heel and flexible forefoot’ i.e. a sensible breakpoint came 2nd. ‘Open-shoes’ (sandals, flip-flops or slides) were the focus, so no surprises ‘wide strap’ was 3rd.
Q8 Would you recommend Aussie Soles as a healthy alternative to flat flip-flops?
98% said ‘Yes’. I actually wear mine as a healthy alternative to other healthy open-shoes! I own a pair of Crocs but for comfort and lightness (especially when travelling) I go for my Aussie Soles.
Q9 Would you recommend Aussie Soles for recovery after sports (post-exercise)?
93% said ‘Yes’. Sporty types will encounter plantar fasciitis so we are back to an arch support regime. Aussie Soles aerate the feet, are comfortable and won’t absorb moisture from wet, dirty surfaces.
Q10 Which of the following best describes your skillset?
54% said General Podiatry. 26% stated ‘Sports or Biomechanical’. The podiatrists surveyed also treated Flat Feet, Mortons Neuroma and Achilles tendonitis amongst other pain conditions.
My conclusion from this survey is that we have a long way to go to educate the general public about Plantar Fasciitis. Ironically the top 2 treatments: stretching and supportive footwear are also preventative measures that could be taught by sports coaches or even parents (in the way that many teach their children oral hygiene and routine brushing of teeth). On that note, many people know how to select a toothbrush for their needs, but I am not sure how many understand the important design elements of a shoe. Reading the podiatrists views in this survey may cause examination beyond pure looks.