Caused by lifestyle factors, obesity is among the most significant health issues globally. One of the primary causes is excessive food consumption and little exercise. You can gain weight by taking in more calories than you burn through activity. Additionally, excess weight gain can be due to genetics. If your family has a history of obesity, you’re more likely to be overweight. Other causative agents can be leptin resistance, insulin, or a particular medication.
Generally, gaining extra weight has adverse effects on your health. It can affect almost every body part, including the heart, liver, brain, blood vessels, feet, and ankles. This article explains the various foot and ankle issues caused by weight gain. Read on for details.
Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis in which tiny crystals form within and around your joints. It results in quick attacks of sharp pain and swelling in one or more joints. Primarily, gout impacts the big toe, but it can also affect other joints, such as the foot, ankle, knee, wrist, etc. Ideally, gout is caused by uric acid in the blood. If you release excess uric acid, or if your kidneys filter it out, it can accumulate and form tiny severe crystals inside and around your joints. The crystals result in the joints swelling and becoming painful.
Weight gain, kidney issues, diabetes, and obesity increase your chances of getting gout. Some signs and symptoms of gout include the following:
- Red and shining skin above the affected area
- Swelling in the joints
- Sharp paints in your ankle and feet joints
- Feeling like your joint is burning
- Limited range of movement
Symptoms occur quickly within a few hours and can last for a week or two. If untreated, gout can increase pain and joint damage. Therefore, immediately visit a foot and ankle specialist like the one in https://www.easternidahofootclinic.com/ if you suspect gout. Doing so ensures you obtain medication to relieve the pain and prevent further attacks.
2. Flat Feet
Usually, when you stand barefoot, there’s a gap below your feet and the ground where your arch supports your weight. However, if you stand and all or nearly the entire base of your feet makes contact with the ground, you have flat feet. It affects the ability of your feet to hold your weight and offer stability.
Flatfeet are primarily common in infants and toddlers since the foot’s arch hasn’t formed. However, for adults, weight gain accelerates your risk of developing it. When you carry excess weight, your arches may not support your weight and collapse due to the pressure exerted on them. Additionally, extra weight can make you walk with a broader stance and your feet pointing out. It can potentially lower the ability of your arch to maintain its shape.
Even though you may not experience any pain with flat feet, in due course, flat feet can cause extreme stress on your feet’s bones, tendons, muscles, and joints and cause swelling near the ankle and arch. The instability can lead to hip, knee, or lower back pains.
3. Bone Spurs In The Feet
Bone spurs, also referred to as osteophytes, are smooth projections near bones. It’s generated by the body to reduce the friction of two bones crushing against each other. Typically, bone spurs are a way the body naturally responds to long-lasting friction or stress on a bone. This pressure results in injuries that incite the bone to repair itself by producing additional bone tissue.
Being overweight increases stress and pressure on the bones, particularly in the lower body and spine. Your feet can absorb an enormous amount of impact pressure, causing the ligament at the bottom of your feet to pull more firmly on the heel than usual. It can result in the creation of a heel spur.
The most common symptom of bone spurs is numbness, weakness in the legs, and pain around the affected joints. You may also experience stiffness when you try to move or bend the impacted joint.
Hammertoes are conditions that lead to unusual bending of one or more joints of your affected toes. It’s primarily associated with the disparity in muscles, tendons, and ligaments that bend your toe or keep it straight. The disorder prompts your toe to be firm and steady in a curled position. Wearing the wrong shoes or genes often causes hammertoes. However, gaining weight can also contribute to them. As outlined above, weight gain causes flat feet, which causes your toes to deform and bend in their middle joints as they try to support the extra weight.
One issue with hammertoes is that they can result in muscle imbalances and abnormal stress in other sections of your feet and toes. The result can damage normal movement and hinder your ability to work, causing a detrimental effect on your quality of life. Moreover, they can lead to sores, calluses, or blisters.
Below are some hammertoe symptoms:
- Alteration in the manner your shoes fit
- Curled toes
- Challenging or pain in moving the affected toe
- Corns and calluses
- Soreness and foot pain
- Swelling in the middle joints of your toes
- Pain when you walk
It can be a severe issue if you have diabetes, as you’re at a higher risk of infections and foot ulcers. Therefore, see a doctor immediately if you notice a sign of hammertoe.
5. Plantar Fasciitis
This condition occurs when your plantar fascia becomes sore and swollen. The plantar fascia is a strong band of tissue at the bottom of your feet that links your heel bone to your toes. These tissues support the arch of your feet and absorb the shock of your movement. However, a lot of pressure on your plantar fascia can stretch the tissues or even tear them. This results in plantar fasciitis and knee pain that can intensify with time and eventually restrict what you can do.
You can exert stress on your heel pad if you carry extra pounds. It can result in inflammation of the plantar fascia and consequent pain.
A bunion is a protrusion on the side of your big toe, causing it to point in the direction of the remaining toes rather than being straight. It mainly emerges on the exterior side of your foot at the bottom of the big toe. Bunions occur as a result of a faulty foot structure that you can inherit. Furthermore, it can be caused by abnormal bone structure, flat feet, and too many flexible ligaments.
Besides that, weight gain can accelerate your chances of having bunions. Additional weight can cause your feet to roll inward or pronate. It can result in your big toe shifting towards the second toe, thus leading to bunions. There are various types of bunions, including:
- Tailor’s bunion: This is often called bunionette, and it occurs in your smallest toe instead of your big toe. It causes your pinky toe to convert and change direction and a protrusion to evolve.
- Large bunion: As the name suggests, large bunions are prominent protrusions that can be easily seen in your big toe. They can make it hard to move your toe or find cozy shoes.
- Bunion with skin irritation: Another popular type of bunion is the one that comes with skin irritation. It’s most common in people who put on closed or tight shoes. Your shoe’s firmness and your big toe’s projection of your big toe can result in rubbing and irritation of your skin.
- Bunion with hallux limitus: This type of bunion restricts the flexibility in your foot, especially at the joint of the big toe. The situation may lead to your big toe jamming, which causes a bunion to develop at the top instead of the side.
Bunions can worsen with time. Therefore, it’d be best to get treated by a professional foot and ankle specialist.
7. Foot And Ankle Arthritis
Arthritis is the inflammation and swelling of at least one of your joints and is common in the tiny joints of your foot and ankles. Numerous types of arthritis can affect your feet and ankles. Every type makes it challenging to walk and perform your daily activities. The most popular foot joints arthritis can affect are the big toe and foot bone joint, the meeting joint between the shipborne and ankle, and the three joints of the feet, including the inner mid-foot bone, the outer mid-foot bone, and the heel bone.
Additional weight may exert pressure on your foot and ankle joints, increasing your risk of developing different types of arthritis, like osteoarthritis (OA). OA occurs once the cartilage that safeguards the endings of bones in your joints wears out. Extra weight puts more stress on your feet and ankle joints, increasing the risk of developing OA.
Below are some of the top symptoms of foot and ankle arthritis:
- Pain when walking
- Difficulty moving or when placing weight on it
- Tenders in the joints
- Additional pain when you sleep or sit down
- Joint swelling and readiness
- Pain that increases with strenuous activities
You can obtain medication based on your symptoms and the extent of the damage. Sometimes, you may require at least one type of surgery to cure foot and ankle arthritis.
8. Diabetic Foot Issue
Excessive weight gain is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes that can cause foot problems. Diabetes can cause the following issues that can impact your feet:
- Diabetic neuropathy: Diabetes can impair the nerves in your legs and feet. It makes your feet insensitive to cold, heat, or pain. If you don’t feel any pain in your feet when you have a cut, the cut can worsen and become infected. Your feet’s muscles may not work appropriately since the nerves to the muscles are injured. It causes the feet not to align appropriately and develop a lot of pressure on one side of the foot.
- Peripheral vascular disease: Diabetes can also impact the flow of blood. With improper blood flow, it may take ages for a wound or cut to heal. It increases your risk of developing foot problems like gangrene and ulcers.
Some of the common diabetic foot issues include the following:
- Blisters: When you have diabetes, you can develop a condition known as bullous diabeticorum, which is the impulsive formation of blisters.
- Diabetic calluses: calluses are parts of rigid and thickened skin cells. Big calluses in the feet can make walking difficult and alter how shoes fit.
- Diabetic ulcers: This is a result of poor circulation and nerve damage. You may not readily notice unless they’re serious.
- Foot infections: Infections can occur on untreated cuts in your feet, which can then migrate to the bloodstream, impairing organs and even endangering your life.
If you’re at high risk of developing such problems, ensure you practice proper foot care to prevent them. Additionally, go for treatments before they result in severe complications.
9. Foot Stress Fractures
A foot stress structure is a small crack in your foot’s bones. It mainly occurs when foot muscles can’t resist the effects of heavy pressure. Carrying excess pounds increases your likelihood of developing a foot stress fracture. That’s because the extra weight increases the force in action, making it easier to crack a bone as there’s an additional impact on your body weight when you walk.
Some symptoms of a foot stress fracture are:
- A bruised foot
- Pain that increases when you run, walk, or stand for a long time
- A swollen foot
- A tenderfoot
If a stress fracture is untreated, the crack can worsen. It may heal inappropriately, cause arthritis, or require surgery. Therefore, if you have any of those symptoms, make an appointment to see a doctor.
10. Ankle Pain
Ankle pain is a discomfort that impacts any section of your ankle and involves the tendon linking your foot to the lower leg bone. One of the common causes of ankle pain is fractures. Gaining weight augments the torque on your ankle, thus raising the risk of muscle injury, including ankle fractures, which then results in ankle pain.
Additionally, tendonitis can cause ankle pain. Tendonitis is a severe disorder caused by tendon inflammation. Extra weight gain may add stress to your tendon and lead to inflammation or tendon tear. The tendon then loses its capability to support and offer stability to your arch.
Another common cause of ankle pain is ankle sprains. An ankle sprain occurs when your ankle rolls out of its usual position due to irregular weight distribution. Additional weight accelerates your risk of ankle sprains by putting extra strain on the ankle ligaments.
Gaining weight can occur unexpectedly and at any time. Sometimes, you may not even notice when you have gained weight unless it is abnormal. One way of identifying if you have gained weight is when your feet and ankles start hurting. Usually, your feet and ankles are designed to support healthy and average body weight. However, extra weight can negatively impact your feet and ankles as they adjust to carry the additional pounds.
Knowing how weight gain affects your feet and ankles helps you quickly notice when you gain weight and adjust your lifestyle to avoid health issues. In case of any foot and ankle issues, consider visiting a specialist for a better solution.