July 21, 2005

Extra pounds add stress to feet and ankles

By Alison McCook

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - People with foot and ankle
problems tend to weigh more than people who don't, suggesting
that the extra weight may be bad for the feet, according to
survey findings released last week.

Among more than 6,000 people who responded to the survey,
those who said they had foot and ankle pain, had undergone foot
surgery, or consulted a doctor about foot pain, tended to weigh
more than people who did not report similar problems.

In addition, more than 4 out of 10 people with foot and
ankle problems said they believed they had gained weight before
the problems started.

"If you gain weight, your feet and your ankles are going to
pay the price," study author Dr. Stuart Miller, member of the
American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society Public Education
Committee, told Reuters Health.

Miller noted that the most common foot and ankle problems
among overweight people included arthritis in the ankle, and
problems in weight-bearing joints and tendons, such as the
ankle and joint between the ankle and heel.

People carrying around extra pounds also reported more
posterior tibial tendonitis, or pain in the tendon that runs
along the inside of the ankle and the foot, Miller added.

He and his colleagues did not examine if losing weight
helps relieve these problems, but in Miller's experience this
is the case. "If (patients) lose weight, they put less strain
on their feet and ankles and their pain gets better," he noted.

The researchers presented their findings last week at the
American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society Annual Summer
Meeting in Boston.

As part of the study, Miller and his colleagues reviewed
responses from 6,157 people, who completed an online survey
about foot and ankle pain, and body weight.

People who responded to the survey were an average of 35
years old, and had an average body mass index of 28, which
classified them as overweight.

In an interview, Miller said that women were also more
likely to see a doctor because of foot pain, change shoes based
on their doctor's advice, and have foot or ankle surgery. Men
were more likely to wear orthotic inserts and report that their
pain was caused by a specific injury.