At Central Massachusetts Podiatry, treatments for heel pain went up 60% compared to 2019, in this phenomenon called “pandemic foot”. By Dr. Samuel Kellner
Since the COVID pandemic, foot pain has been the leading reason for a visit to a podiatrist. At Central Massachusetts Podiatry, for example, the number of patients seeking treatment for heel pain had an average increase of 30% in each year of the restrictions, with a total of 60% in 2021, compared to data from the pre-pandemic year of 2019. It is the phenomenon coined “pandemic foot”.
How did the pandemic affect your feet? Many patients started working from home and immediately went barefoot, without realizing how much time they spend on their feet.
Others became more sedentary working from home, seated in chairs for longer than their bodies were used to, which has created difficulty returning to exercise. Furthermore, some decided to walk longer distances or bike to work, to avoid exposure to the virus.
Added strain lead to injuries
This sudden change caused a huge strain on the feet that had to work harder than before. This overuse of the foot lead to heel pain syndromes, with the most common being Plantar Fasciitis and Achilles Tendonitis, or Metatarsalgia, which is pain in the ball of the foot.
Sedentarism and weight gain also played an important role, adding stress to weaken foot muscles, bones and tendons.
Now, with virtually no restrictions in place and the warmer weather, people are getting back to their normal activities, but the trend seems to continue.
And because many of these pain signs were ignored during the pandemic, some injuries are coming to us in advanced stages, with patients that can barely walk and pain that is spreading to their knees and back.
When to see a foot doctor
If you have new foot pain that isn’t going away in three to four weeks with stretches, icing and foam rolling, it’s probably time to see a specialist.
Cushioning to the feet or even supportive sneakers might help ease the discomfort.
Walking barefoot isn’t a bad thing in itself and is actually recommended. But after years or decades in tight wearing shoes, walking barefoot might not be comfortable for many.
Foot pain isn’t normal and there is no such thing as a bad foot. With the right diagnosis and treatment, you can have a better life, walk and exercise comfortably again.
At our office, we have newer diagnostic technology and advanced treatments available to our patients for foot pain. Diagnostic ultrasound, for example, gives us live imaging of soft tissue and bone so we can see any specific injury and work on a more precise treatment plan.
We offer regenerative treatment modalities including shockwave and laser therapy, and amniotic tissue injections as options to help heal our patients with acute or chronic foot pain.
Read also: BIG FOOT: The Pandemic Saquatch Effect