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Excess Body Weight and Foot and Ankle Problems

Many foot and ankle problems can be complicated by, if not caused by excess body weight.  The structures of the foot and ankle are normally able to take on a significant amount of workload.  However, there are limits.  Excess body weight places a greater strain on the structures of the foot and ankle.  In turn, this strain can lead to problems, such as plantar fasciitis , Achilles tendonitis (and Achilles enthesopathy), metatarsalgia , degenerative joint disease (arthritis especially in the midfoot) , among other foot and ankle problems.

Besides being a potential cause of these problems, excess body weight can also make treating these problems and getting them to resolve very challenging and in some cases, impossible.  Furthermore, foot and ankle surgery in the presence of excess body weight can be quite risky (in both a general health, as well as foot and ankle sense) and carry a high potential for failure.

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a quick way to know whether you’re at a healthy weight, underweight, overweight, or obese.  Body mass index (BMI) measures body fat based on your height and weight.

In general, the higher your BMI, the greater your risk of developing serious weight-related health problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, arthritis, breathing and sleeping problems, some types of cancer.  At the Foot and Ankle Surgery Department at the Kaiser Medical Center in Santa Rosa, we have also found that a BMI of 30 or more is often associated with foot and ankle problems.

Adult BMI can be classified into the following ranges:

  • Less Risk: 19-24
  • More Risk: 25-29
  • High Risk: 30 and above

Here are methods that you can use to calculate your BMI:

Should your BMI lie at 30 or higher, and you have a foot or ankle problem, it is highly recommended for you to lose weight to lower your BMI.  (Of course, lowering your BMI is also beneficial for reducing your risk for the previously mention general medical concerns.)

The Foot and Ankle Surgery Department recommends:
1) Contact your primary care doctor and work together to lower your BMI.
2) Review and use the following resources: