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Foot Disorders: Is Race a Factor?

February is Black History Month, a time to reflect on issues of historical importance and to celebrate the many achievements of African Americans in the arts, academia, medicine, and more. At Clifton Foot & Ankle Center, we’re taking a moment during Black History Month to get a closer look at race as it relates to the African American foot. Is there a history of disparities between whites and blacks and their foot health? If so, does it matter?

Well, a 2010 study out of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine had some interesting findings about African Americans’ foot health. The study followed common foot disorders of individuals from various racial backgrounds over 5 years. Researchers then culled statistical information specific to race. Some of their findings include the following:

  • Tailor’s bunions (“bunionettes”) are five times more likely to affect whites than blacks
  • The incidence of high arches is much more prevalent in whites than blacks
  • Among those aged 45 or older, African Americans had three times the rate of corns and flat feet
  • With obesity removed as a factor, bunions and hammertoes were twice as prevalent in blacks as in whites. Obesity leveled out the incidence of these two foot deformities in the two races, however.

What the study suggests is that race does seem to play a role in who is afflicted with certain foot disorders. But clearly, common foot disorders such as flat feet, bunions, hammertoes, and corns are going to affect people across the entire population, regardless of race. Board-certified podiatrist Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm treats these conditions of the foot – and more – to all people in Fairfax County, northern Virginia.

No matter your ethnic background, problems that affect your feet will eventually affect your quality of life if you don’t take steps to fix them. If you’ve got a history of aching, swelling, throbbing, or numbing pain in your feet, make an appointment with us at our office in Centreville. We welcome your call at (703) 996-3000. You can also visit us online for more information.

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