Institute for Preventive Foot Health Launches With Free Foot Health Tips, Also Marking April as Limb Loss Awareness Month

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Problems With Feet Lead to Even Greater Risks for Those With Diabetes and Other Circulatory Issues

“There are nearly two million people living with limb loss in the United States and this number is predicted to double because of the obesity and diabetes epidemic. There are greater than 300 amputations per day in the United States.

To mark its launch, and in conjunction with Limb Loss Awareness Month and the Amputee Coalition’s Take-a-Seat-Check-Your-Feet Prevention project, the Institute for Preventive Foot Health (IPFH) has issued a series of free preventive foot health tips for the general population and those at risk. With diabetes, heart and circulatory disease on the rise, preventive foot health is of prime importance to Americans who risk losing their limbs if they don’t practice preventive foot care.

The feet are the foundation of mobility, according to IPFH (http://www.ipfh.org), which underscores that foot conditions and diseases such as diabetes that place feet at risk can limit a person’s ability to function—at home, at work and in leisure activities. Preventive foot health is also important for overall health, since it is vital to the ability to engage in regular exercise.

The National Foot Health Assessment (http://www.ipfh.org/resources/surveys/2009-national-foot-health-assessment/), conducted in 2009 by IPFH and NPD Group, Inc., a global research organization, reported that a staggering 88% of adults in the U.S. have experienced foot pain or foot problems serious enough to interfere with their ability to work, exercise and/or enjoy a full, healthy lifestyle.

Foot problems often increase with age. By age 50, the average person will have walked or run 75,000 miles, primarily on hard, unnatural surfaces (concrete, asphalt and hard floors). This contributes to a breakdown of the skin and the protective fat pads beneath the toes, the ball of the foot and the heel.

“There are nearly two million people living with limb loss in the United States and this number is predicted to double because of the obesity and diabetes epidemic. There are greater than 300 amputations per day in the United States; 75% are due to diabetes and peripheral arterial disease. For those at risk, taking care of the feet is paramount,” said Terrence Sheehan, MD, IPFH Scientific Advisor and Director of the Amputee Program/Chief Medical Officer at Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland.

"The lack of focused foot care can lead to what may seem to be insignificant calluses or irritations. These quickly become problems such as ulceration, which in too many cases results in amputation. By reading these tips and by acting on them, millions of people may effectively prevent or better manage the foot issues that keep them from leading full, healthy and active lives. The vast majority of my amputee patients say they had ‘no idea’ that they were at risk for limb loss. IPFH and the Amputee Coalition want to change this!”

The following are meant to help prevent injuries to the feet and manage existing problems:

  •     Inspect your feet regularly.

o    Tend to any lesions (cracks, cuts, blisters) with antibiotic cream and a gauze bandage or Band-Aid. See your doctor immediately if you see any sign of infection, such as oozing.
o     Watch for bruising, a sign of injury below the skin that can precede tissue damage; bruising is a warning sign of potential problems, especially if healing takes a long time.
o    Check for lumps or bumps; temperature differences (one part warm, another part cool); pain, tingling, burning or numbness, which are signs of neuropathy; or loss of hair on your foot or leg, a signal of reduced blood flow. See your doctor or a foot health professional immediately.

  •     Apply a thin film of skin-softening lotion to the top and the bottom of your foot. Don’t apply lotion between the toes, since the moisture may facilitate fungal growth.
  •     Clip nails carefully. Trim straight across and soften the edges with an emery board to reduce the risk of ingrown nails. (Those with neuropathy or other foot problems related to diabetes should defer to a foot health professional.)
  •     Never trim corns or calluses with a sharp implement; one slip can lead to a lesion or worse. Consult a foot health professional.
  •     Wear padded socks made of acrylic and acrylic blends that wick moisture away from the foot. (100% cotton and wool socks, for instance, retain moisture). Properly fitted padded socks will reduce impact, pressure and shear forces while also reducing vulnerability to fungal infection and irritation.
  •     IPFH suggests its integrated approach: when purchasing shoes, always wear the padded socks you intend to wear with those shoes; include any inserts or orthotics recommended by a foot-health professional.
  •     All shoes should be shaped like your feet (no pointy tips) and correctly sized.
  •     Rotate shoes, instead of wearing the same pair every day, allowing each pair ample time to dry out from perspiration.

The complete IPFH Foot Health tips can be found on the IPFH Web site (http://www.ipfh.org/foot-care-essentials/how-to-practice-good-foot-hygiene/).

About IPFH
The Institute for Preventive Foot Health (IPFH) is a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing awareness, education, research and the identification of easy-to-follow methods to prevent, treat and manage painful conditions and diseases affecting the feet. IPFH was founded by James L. Throneburg, owner of THORLO, Inc., based on knowledge gained from groundbreaking clinical research conducted with novel padded sock designs donated by THORLO (http://www.thorlo.com). Both Throneburg and THORLO, Inc. continue to provide financial support for IPFH and to initiate collaborative efforts with its educational partners: the Amputee Coalition (http://www.amputee-coalition.org/) and the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA http://www.icaa.cc/).

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Debra Caruso

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