The cost of foot pain – and how to avoid it

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Do you have any experience with foot pain? If not, consider yourself lucky. A 2014 study from the American Podiatric Medical Association found that more than three-quarters of the 1,000 adults surveyed have experienced foot pain, and half said the pain was severe enough to restrict their activities. 

But physical discomfort is only one of the negative effects inherent to foot problems. What often goes overlooked is the cost. A foot injury, even a seemingly mild one, can prove expensive. That's why taking steps to prevent foot pain isn't just good for your health – it's good for your wallet, too.

Considering the costs
Whether you approach the topic generally (i.e. discussing top of foot pain, bottom of foot pain, etc.) or more technically (plantar fasciitis, Morton's neuroma, etc.), there's one key takeaway to recognize: Foot pain comes in many, many different forms. And so do the treatment options.

To start with the relatively minor options, many people attempt to treat their foot pain with home remedies. Setting aside the question of how effective these treatments are, consider the costs associated with some of the more popular options. While it's true that some are inexpensive – such as applying ice packs on a regular basis – others call for more costly components. 

From a more medical perspective, over-the-counter foot pain treatments will often include creams and ointments. These products range from as low as $10 to well over $30 for a single jar. That's not a significant investment initially, but it quickly becomes costly for someone suffering from chronic foot pain.  Even more importantly, these topical agents won't actually heal – they'll just treat the symptoms of a more serious foot problem. Other treatments of this level include pain relievers and bandages, both of which will quickly add up financially. If you need to use an ice pack, some bandages, a liberal amount of ointment and a pain reliever every time your foot injury flares up, your monthly pharmacy bill is going to rise.  

Bandages and other medical supplies can add up.Bandages and other medical supplies can add up.

Professional assistance
Then there are the more serious medical costs. The APMA survey cited above found that one-third of those people suffering from foot pain either had or intended to seek out expert care from a podiatrist. Obviously the cost of a trip to the podiatrist will vary depending on the quality of a person's health insurance (assuming they have coverage), but any visit to a medical specialist is going to carry a significant price tag – easily in the hundreds of dollars before insurance. 

"Any visit to a medical specialist is going to carry a significant price tag."

If the injury is severe enough, physical therapy may be needed, and can be even more expensive. For example, Akron General, which publishes its patient pricing information, charges $124 per 15 minutes of exercise-focused physical therapy. Again, insurance will obviously affect and potentially reduce this cost, but it's easy to see how pricey this type of treatment can become for those suffering from severe foot pain.

Missed opportunities
Last, but not least, it's necessary to consider the indirect costs of foot pain. The APMA survey pointed out that a huge number of people have experienced foot pain that limited their activity. That can refer to recreational behavior, like playing sports, but it also applies to professional activity. Many people who experience acute foot pain will not be able to perform their job responsibilities. If you are forced to cut back on your hours worked in order to accommodate your foot pain, you'll have incurred a significant financial cost in the form of missed income. 

Avoiding foot pain
With all of that established, it's easy to see that foot problems present not just pain, but serious financial costs, as well. That means that taking steps to prevent foot injuries is a good investment.

So what should you do to keep your feet safe from foot pain? 

First and foremost, make sure you have the right footwear. This doesn't just mean finding shoes that fit – it means finding footwear that offers the protection you need for your day-to-day life. For example, if you work in an environment with slippery floors, you need shoes that have extremely effective grip in order to reduce the risk of not just falling, but rolling or spraining your ankle or putting too much stress on your toes or heel as you try to stay steady. Wearing shoes without, high-grip outsoles in a kitchen, supermarket or hospital is no different than wearing light sneakers on a construction site – with the wrong gear, you're putting yourself in danger of experiencing a serious injury, while the right footwar will helpto keep you safe. 

Second, pay attention to your foot's condition. If you start to experience any pain, don't just ignore it. Instead, switch to a different footwear option. If you're experiencing heel pain, for example, you should look for shoes that provide stronger arch support and better cushioning.  The longer you ignore pain or discomfort, the more damage you might incur. Address any potential footwear issue before it becomes serious. 

Remember: Avoiding serious foot pain is good for both your body and your bank account, so make this a priority.

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