Podiatrists see rise of 'pandemic foot'

Podiatrists nationwide are reporting an uptick in foot trauma amid the COVID-19 pandemic, The New York Times reported April 19.

No hard data exists on the trend, but many podiatrists have spotted a clear correlation between foot injuries and the pandemic, according to James Christina, DPM, executive director of the American Podiatric Medical Association.

The Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City has seen a 20 percent to 30 percent increase in foot trauma — or "pandemic foot" as Rock Positano, co-director of the hospital's nonsurgical foot and ankle service, calls it.

Podiatrists have pinpointed numerous reasons for the increase in foot injuries. For one, many people started spending more time indoors and stopped wearing shoes as often. As a result, podiatrists have seen a jump in fractures from stubbed toes or other accidents in the home. Overuse injuries are also common from going barefoot more often. 

Now that public health restrictions have loosened, many people are also resuming activities they haven't done in two years. Doing too much, too soon can also trigger injuries, according to Jacquelyn Dylla, an associate professor of clinical physical therapy at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

"Many of us have undergone atrophy and bone density loss from inactivity without noticing it, making it harder to stabilize ourselves on uneven surfaces," she told the Times, noting that even small injuries can cause serious problems.

"I have patients who look like they were in a car accident," she said, "but they just rolled their ankle during a hike."

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