Prevalence and Risk Factors for Foot and Ankle

People of all ages, genders, backgrounds, and lifestyles can, at one point, fall victim to foot or ankle pain caused by disorders or various health issues. In order to prevent, treat, or at least ameliorate the pain you must first understand its source. Thus, you must be aware of the prevalence and the risk factors for feet and ankles.

What are the most common conditions?

Foot and ankle injuries and disorders are extremely common in adults, in some cases even children being affected. While the list of conditions that could potentially appear due to external factors or developmental issues is quite large, there are only a few conditions that are more commonly experienced. These common conditions of the feet and ankles are:

Achilles tendonitis; Tendonitis;
Arthritis; Stress fractures;
Bunion; Flatfoot;
Plantar fasciitis; Heel pain;
Ankle sprain; Fractures.

Prevalence of foot and ankle disorders

While conditions related to the feet or the ankles might potentially appear in all people at one point, they are indeed more prevalent in some cases. In this section, we will take a look at the prevalence of the conditions when it comes to the gender, ethnicity, age, and workplace of those who suffer or have suffered from them. This will give you the possibility to predict and try to prevent any future issue from appearing.

  • Workplace: Undoubtedly, the place where a person works and where most of the time is being spent in is the major influencer of the appearance of foot or ankle conditions. Generally, workplaces such as hospitals and construction sites see the biggest numbers of workers who end up suffering from such issues. Nurses usually develop plantar fasciitis as a result of having to stand up for long hours, while construction workers most often get sprained ankles from poorly positioning their feet when doing heavy lifting.
  • Gender: When it comes to the prevalence of these conditions and disorders based on the genders of those who suffer from them, it has been shown that women are most likely to develop them.
  • Age: Obviously, when it came to the prevalence of the conditions in age groups, elders were the most affected. There are a plethora of risk factors that make people who have passed their 60’s to be more predisposed to foot and ankle conditions, risk factors that usually can’t be treated but only delayed or prevented through leading a careful lifestyle from a younger age.
  • Ethnicity: Studies done in multi-ethnic communities have shown that there are indeed major differences between races/ethnicities, differences that don’t have anything to do with the gender, education, or age of the subjects. Generally speaking, toe deformities, edema, sensory loss, fungal signs, flat feet, and other similar conditions have been observed to predominantly affect African Americans, Puerto Ricans and other ethnic groups.

Risk factors

Risk factors associated with foot and ankle conditions can either be modifiable or non-modifiable. Non-modifiable factors include gender, age, race, height, foot/ankle anatomy, extremity alignment, and the existence of previous conditions that lead to the development of the new health issues. Modifiable factors include weight, body mass index, footwear, muscle strength, sports, postural stability, and more.

Non-modifiable factors

There isn’t anything that individuals can do to prevent non-modifiable factors from affecting them. We are all born with these risk factors, women generally being more likely to develop foot or ankle conditions than men, elders being more predisposed to injuries than young people, and so on. Basically, non-modifiable factors only serve as indicators of the chances for certain individuals to be faced with foot and ankle conditions.

Modifiable factors

There are a lot of modifiable factors that lead to the appearance of such conditions. Weight and body mass index affect individuals the most as overweight people put more pressure on their feet and ankles, thus weakening these areas of their bodies. People who practice sports are likely to suffer from injuries or develop certain conditions, especially those who practice more solicitant and dangerous sports. Wearing improper shoes is another major risk factor as the pressure put by the footwear on the feet and ankles can damage these body parts fast.

Proper prevention of foot and ankle problems

Some conditions can be easily prevented if you simply make small changes in your lifestyle. For example, eating healthier and being more active will drastically decrease the chances of developing most foot and ankle associated injuries and conditions. Of course, the shoes that you wear have a high impact on the health of your feet and ankles, so make sure that you wear comfortable footwear at all times. In case you have a workplace that demands you walk or stand up for long hours, make sure that the footwear you choose is specially designed to prevent plantar fasciitis and other issues from appearing. Also, try to pay attention to your surroundings at all times in order to prevent tripping or falling, which can lead to the appearance of a sprained ankle.