Dr Ira Bernstein: The Importance of Regular Foot and Ankle Checks


Amid daily living, the feet and ankles often receive scant attention until they protest in discomfort or pain. This tendency to overlook foot and ankle health can lead to overlooked minor issues leading to major concerns.

The question then arises, how often should these vital structures be examined for potential issues? Dr Ira Bernstein will discuss the recommended frequency for foot and ankle checks.

The Role of Feet and Ankles in Overall Health

Feet and ankles form the foundation of physical activity, bearing the body’s full weight while facilitating a range of movements. Their health is paramount to overall wellbeing, yet they are frequently neglected. Regular examinations can preempt complications, preserving mobility and quality of life.

Risk Factors Necessitating Frequent Monitoring

Individuals with diabetes, circulatory problems, or arthritis, among other chronic conditions, are at heightened risk for foot and ankle issues. For these populations, more frequent check-ups are crucial to prevent serious complications.

Similarly, athletes and individuals with active lifestyles should also adopt a more vigilant approach to monitoring their foot and ankle health due to increased stress and risk of injury in these areas.

Recommended Frequency for Routine Checks

For individuals without significant health issues, a monthly self-examination of the feet and ankles is advisable. This routine check should involve a thorough inspection for any abnormalities such as swelling, discoloration, or changes in shape or skin condition. Any concerns observed during these checks should prompt a consultation with a healthcare professional.

Those with diabetes or vascular problems should perform daily foot inspections to catch any signs of sores, cuts, or infections early. Annual professional check-ups with a podiatrist or primary care physician are also recommended to assess the foot and ankle health comprehensively.

Key Areas to Monitor During Checks

Examine the skin for dryness, cracks, blisters, or warts, and the nails for discoloration, thickening, or unusual growth patterns. Such conditions can indicate fungal infections or other dermatological issues requiring treatment.

Regular checks should include assessing the feet for sensation to touch and temperature, as loss of feeling can be a precursor to neuropathy. Checking the color and temperature of the feet can also help identify circulation issues, which are particularly crucial for individuals living with diabetes.

For Dr Ira Bernstein, observing the feet and ankles for changes in structure, such as the development of bunions, hammertoes, or flat feet, is essential. Such changes can alter gait and posture, leading to broader musculoskeletal issues.

Signs Warranting Immediate Professional Attention

While regular checks are vital for maintaining foot and ankle health, certain signs should prompt an immediate visit to a healthcare professional:

  • Persistent pain or swelling
  • Sores or wounds that do not heal
  • Severe cracking, scaling, or peeling of the skin
  • Numbness, tingling, or loss of sensation

Addressing these symptoms promptly can prevent further complications and ensure optimal foot and ankle health.

Incorporating Professional Examinations into Routine Care

Lastly, in addition to self-checks, Dr Ira Bernstein states that incorporating professional examinations into routine healthcare can provide a more in-depth assessment and identify potential issues that may not be evident through self-examination alone. These exams can offer personalized advice on proper foot care, suitable footwear, and targeted exercises to strengthen the feet and ankles.