The link between foot pain and mental health
FOOT pain affects one quarter of adults and is known to impact on balance and gait and health-related quality of life.
Recent studies have also reported obese people are more likely to have foot pain than those of normal weight. Considering the rising pandemic of obesity, it is also likely that foot disease will continue to rise in the future.
In Australia, foot pain and deformity is a considerable public health issue, with long waiting lists for orthopaedic appointments a recognised challenge. Podiatry thankfully, can play an important role in improving access for patients with debilitating foot and ankle conditions. With the aging population and the rise in obesity, the demand for foot and ankle services is increasing.
Mental health is also associated with changes in foot pain. Longitudinal study conducted as part of my PhD research into obesity and foot pain, spent three years examining the relationship between mental health and foot pain in a community- based population. The research was recently published in Arthritis Care and Research.
It has been previously recognised that mental health is related to the persistence of musculoskeletal pain, be it lower back, hips or knees. However, no longitudinal research had been conducted on foot pain and the relationship with mental health. My study found mental health was associated with changes in foot pain. Clinicians dealing with this population should, therefore, consider the contribution of mental health in their management and treatment of foot pain, as it impacts on prognosis.
The podiatry team at The Tweed Health for Everyone Super Clinic offers patients the opportunity to seek advice, diagnosis and management for their foot problems, with access to the latest in technology.
* Dr Paul Butterworth is a podiatric surgeon at the Tweed Health for Everyone Super Clinic, 33-35 Corporation Cct, Tweed Heads South. Visit www.thesc.com.au