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Advice for the city’s pedestrians by a Manhattan podiatrist and foot surgeon


  • Photo: Billie Grace Ward, via flickr

New Yorkers are big walkers, pounding the pavement of the city’s sidewalks, and treading up and down subway stairs. Dr. Andrew Glass, a podiatrist and podiatric foot surgeon in Manhattan, addresses some common concerns that pedestrians have about footwear, pain, and treatments for problems.

What do New Yorkers need to know about walking in the city?

We have to be aware of our surroundings. The pavement is uneven and we can trip and fall. We have to watch out for potholes. Using the subway, we have to walk up and down stairs. Other people on the street and bike riders can crash into you. I see a lot of stress fractures, sprained ankles.

What kinds of shoes should people wear?

Sneakers and athletic shoes are very good. Orthotics make shoes more comfortable. [For women], wedges are better than high heels. A wider heel is better than a narrow one. Sandals today are sometimes made with arches built-in making them safer and more comfortable. Pointy-toes are very bad for your feet. They cause bunions and hammertoes and other foot problems. You can wear them but only on special occasions.

What problems should people be alert to?

If you suddenly develop foot pain, see a podiatrist immediately. Foot pain is not normal and should be attended to before it becomes more serious. If you see a bunion or hammertoe forming, see a podiatrist. You might see a strange deformity like a collapsing arch or contraction of the toes. If caught early, bunions, hammertoes, plantar fasciitis and the like can sometimes be fixed without surgery or using an easier type of surgery.

Are women more likely than men to have foot problems?

Absolutely. Women are much more likely than men to have foot problems because of high-heeled, pointy-toed shoes. In America the overwhelming majority of foot surgeries are performed on women. Many women wear fashionable but uncomfortable shoes and this is the reason. Seventy-five percent of the entire population will experience foot pain at some point in their lives. Bunions are a problem for a third of the population.

When is surgery necessary?

Today there are surgeries and procedures to deal with and relieve many foot problems such as plantar fasciitis, hammertoes and bunions. These procedures often required women to be off their feet for weeks, if not months. Today’s woman is just too busy to stay off her feet that long. I have developed a new way of doing surgery with one stitch, where you’re back to wearing your normal shoes after a few days. This lessens the risk of infection and hastens recovery.

Suppose people have foot problems but don’t want surgery. Is there help for them?

Yes! Today we have amniotic injections and adult stem cell injections that can heal many injuries including severe arthritis. (The stem cells are not covered by insurance.) Stem cells are harvested from the patient’s own body, treated and then injected back into the body. These stem cells can provide maximum healing and treatment benefits.

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