Obesity and Foot Pain: When Weight Wages War

Being overweight or obese can be difficult to deal with. There is a lot of effort in society today to bring awareness about obesity and the health problems it can cause. For some, obesity may be just an aesthetic issue, but there are times when extra weight can have a significant impact on your health. Carrying extra weight not only increases your risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, and cancer, but it can also lead to musculoskeletal problems. Obesity and foot pain often go hand in hand.  

Excessive Pressure

Your feet are designed with an amazing structure to withstand a great amount of stress. So many bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons work to keep you moving and active. Your feet are your true foundation, but excessive weight may add more pressure than they are capable of handling. Each step you take they must absorb the weight of the impact, and the more weight they must support, the harder the impact. Obesity can actually wear down the structure of your foot over time, which is what leads to fatigue, discomfort, and at times, injury.

Imagine a new couch and how it is so comfortable and soft at the beginning. Over time though, the cushions get compressed, they lose their form and the couch ends up sagging and not supporting your weight. Your feet can react in a similar way after having to deal with years of excess pressure. The connective tissues in your foot can stretch out, tendons can weaken, the arch can fall, and the fat pad can become compressed and thinned out. Your muscles have to work harder to keep you stable, and enough stress over time can make standing and walking painful. The extra pressure increases your risk for wear and tear injuries such as plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, and arthritis, and could even lead to stress fractures.

Furthermore, as your body needs to compensate for the extra weight, there is a tendency for your gait to change. This presents a risk for pain in your ankle, knee, hip, lower back, and neck.

Making a Change

If you suffer from obesity and foot pain, treating both problems may involve a multiple step plan. We want to encourage you: it is achievable and we can work with you and your general health care provider to help you find relief through conservative treatment methods. Start by implementing some necessary lifestyle changes. Even though it may be challenging, it may be the best way to decrease foot pain due to obesity. Less weight equals less stress and pressure on your feet.  Your doctor will be able to create a tailored plan to help you in this process.

Second, while you need your feet to stay mobile, you need to get mobile to lose weight and decrease stress on your feet. Look into exercise options that will be safe and healthy and allow you to get active without being at risk for injury. Swimming, walking, biking, or an elliptical machine are all options that can get you moving with lower-impact activities. In addition to that, we can provide a very helpful aid to keep you comfortable while you exercise. Custom orthotics are inserts for your shoes that can provide the support, cushioning, and stability your feet need to stay pain free.

Don’t wait until your foot pain is unbearable to seek help for the discomfort. Contact NorthPointe Foot & Ankle in Berkley, MI, for more information or an appointment to get treatment that will help. Call (248) 545-0100 or use the request form on our website to reach us.