The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

APMA Study: 50% of Americans Experience Activity-Limiting Foot Pain

Posted by on Monday, May 26th, 2014


These days, foot pain is just as “American” as baseball and warm apple pie. Eight in 10 Americans say they have experienced a foot problem this year. Of those with foot pain, 50% say it has negatively affected or impaired their quality of life, restricting activities like walking, exercising, working, and playing with grandchildren. Eighty-three percent of people with chronic foot pain find these activities hindered. Of the 1,000 people surveyed by the American Podiatric Medical Association, 39% said they would exercise more and 41% said they would participate in more activities if it weren’t for their foot pain.

foot pain
Shoe choice causes foot pain for 8 in 10 Americans.

Foot Pain Remains Pervasive in American Life

When it comes down to American attitudes about feet, not much has changed since 2010, says the American Podiatric Medical Association. The survey found that the foot continues to rank low on the list of body parts that people view as important to their well-being.

“It’s not surprising to see how many people are affected by foot pain, when survey results show that we view our feet as the least important body part in terms of our overall health and well-being,” APMA President Frank Spinosa, DPM, said in a press release. “Our feet are literally and figuratively the furthest things from our minds.”

Not surprisingly, heels ranked #1 for foot pain. Boots came in at #3, though — beating out flip-flops and flats!
Image source: Flickr user Chris Staley

Study Finds Shoes the Main Culprit Behind Americans’ Aching Feet

The study focused on chronic generalized pain caused by shoe choice, rather than people afflicted by sports overuse or traumatic injuries. Not surprisingly, high heels were the chief offender, with 71% of all women saying these shoes hurt their feet. Even so, the average woman owns nine pairs of these torturous shoes. Half of all women say they’ll wear heels that are three inches or higher.

Rounding out the top five most painful shoe types were:

– Barefoot runners (27%)

– Boots (26%)

– Flip-flops (23%), and

– Flats (23%).

We’ve talked at great length about the perils of some of these popular shoe styles. Of course, even athletic trainers can be a real “pain in the foot” if you buy the wrong type or fit for your feet — or if you don’t change them out often enough based on the amount of physical activity you’re doing. One of the things we do at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine is assess your footwear, as well as your gait, to help you select the best types of shoes for your lifestyle and your unique biomechanics.

Why Not Visit a NY Podiatrist to Treat Your Feet?

You would think podiatrists would be raking in the customers, given how pervasive foot pain is in America. However, most adults (60%) would sooner speak with their general practitioner or do a Web search (48%) than consider visiting a podiatrist. In fact, only a third of those surveyed said they would seek expert care from a podiatrist. The good news is that 88% of those who have visited a podiatrist said they are “extremely satisfied” with the level of care they received — much more satisfied than the 76% of people who said they were satisfied with the foot pain help they received from a primary care physician. More than a third of those surveyed said their podiatrists also helped identify another health issue they had.

“Podiatrists are physicians, surgeons, and specialists. They’re ready and able to treat diseases, injuries, and deformities of the foot and ankle, as well as the foot problems Americans experience most often: heel pain, plantar fasciitis, nail fungus, and foot odor,” said Dr. Spinosa. “They can also catch signs of diabetes, arthritis, and nerve and circulatory disorders, all of which can be detected in the feet.”


For expert foot pain relief and general health care, visit The Center for Podiatric Care & Sports Medicine in New York City. We offer the most cutting edge treatments, as well as housing a team of experienced podiatric surgeons, physical therapists, podiatrists, and sports medicine doctors. Book your appointment online! 


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.