Feet Don’t Fail Me Now: The Importance of Healthy Feet and Ankles with Ellen Barton, DPM

Person with foot painMost of us take our feet for granted. In fact, the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) finds, “Foot care continues to fall behind heart, eye, teeth, skin care, and nutrition.” But, think about this, the average adult will walk around 1,200 miles a year, and nearly 75,000 miles in their lifetime. That’s the equivalent of walking around the Earth 3 times! Add to that, the fact that our feet are amazingly complex, comprising 26 bones and 30 joints. All of that use, combined with the foot’s structural complexity, can lead to the development of injuries and general problems over time. Indeed, the American Podiatric Medical Association reports 77 percent of Americans ages 18 and older have experienced foot problems in their lifetime.

In order to understand more about how the health of our feet and ankles affects our overall health and wellbeing, as well as the ways in which a Podiatrist works to maintain and support the health and wellbeing of their patient's feet and ankles, we spoke with Ellen Barton, DPM, Podiatrist at Door County Medical Center.

What role does a Podiatrist play in a person’s overall health?

Dr. Ellen Barton“A Podiatrist’s role is focused on the foot and ankle—on treating direct injuries to that area, such as ankle sprains, fractures, and heel pain” Dr. Barton relates. “However,” she adds, “a Podiatrist’s practice extends beyond musculoskeletal concerns and into other aspects of foot and ankle health, such as skin conditions and nail concerns like toenail fungus. Also, a good portion of my focus extends to the way systemic conditions—diabetes and arthritis, for instance—affect the foot.”

“Every Podiatrist works differently,” she continues. “I take an individualized approach to medicine—in other words, each patient requires an individual evaluation because what works well for one patient may not help another. It’s important to take the time to get to know the patient and determine what treatment plan will work best based on their preferences. So, for example, I’ll take into account a patient’s level of activity, family involvement, medical history and specific goals when creating their unique treatment plan.” 

“Some patients may prefer a more aggressive approach to treatment that would allow a quicker return to sports and activity. Others would rather take a more a conservative approach for the same issue. In a way,” Dr. Barton comments, “I think of the patient as the captain of a team with myself as the coach. I want to learn about what they want—what their goals are. And, if the captain wants to win a championship, then as coach it’s my job to get them there.”

Why is foot and ankle health important? 

Importance of healthy feet and anklesYour feet and ankles provide the foundation—literally and figuratively—to your life. A healthy and active life starts, in part, with healthy feet and ankles. “Injuries of the foot and ankle, as well as pain of any type, can be very difficult for people to handle,” says Dr. Barton, adding, “It limits their ability to move and it limits their ability to be active both in life and in the community. For this reason,” she continues, “maintaining good foot and ankle health is an integral part of maintaining a person’s mobility and independence.”

If left untreated, an injury to the foot or ankle can lead to additional systemic health issues beyond the foot and ankle. For example, the loss of mobility that comes with foot or ankle pain means you’re less likely to be physically active. Over the long term, this can raise your risk of gaining weight and developing chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Long-term loss of mobility can also result in a loss of endurance and muscle mass.

“Conversely,” Dr. Barton notes, “issues with one’s overall health can present in the feet. Circulatory problems are frequent, but perhaps the most common example,” she continues, “is diabetes.” 

According to the CDC, about half of all people living with diabetes have nerve damage—numbness, tingling or pain that commonly occurs in the feet. Nerve damage, along with poor circulation, increases the odds that a person who has diabetes will develop a foot ulcer that could get infected. If an infection doesn’t get better after being properly treated, this may result in the need for a toe, or foot, or even a portion of the leg, to be amputated. Dr. Barton recommends that, “people living with diabetes have their feet examined by a professional at least once a year to monitor and check for changes in sensation and blood flow to their feet.”

What advice would you give someone about maintaining foot and ankle health? 

“I would recommend 3 things to someone for general foot and ankle health,” Dr. Barton says. “First, daily stretching helps prevent things like Achilles tendon injuries and plantar fasciitis; second, daily moisturization reduces the risk of developing cracks and ulcers; third, quality shoe gear will support and protect your feet and can reduce the likelihood of developing plantar fasciitis and tendon injuries. These quick steps can be impactful and help prevent office visits.”

“I enjoy creating relationships with my patients,” Dr. Barton remarks, adding, “It’s rewarding to help someone through a difficult time and help them get back towards their goals. Healing foot and ankle injuries often means the patient will spend time on crutches or in a wheelchair—sometimes for months. The best part of my job as a Podiatrist is when a patient finally comes back for a follow-up appointment and walks through my doors without help and without pain. And,” she continues, “at the end of a good long day, it’s always my hope that a couple of people leave the clinic feeling better and moving a little bit quicker—that’s my goal.

Dr. Barton provides conservative and surgical treatment for any ailment that involves a patient’s foot or ankle. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Marquette University in Milwaukee in 2014, completed her podiatry training at the College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery at Des Moines University in Iowa in 2018. In 2021, Dr. Barton finished her residency at Gundersen Health Systems in La Crosse, Wisconsin, where she served as Chief Resident. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Barton please visit Door County Medical Center’s Door Orthopedic Center by clicking here, or calling (920)746-0510.

Published 8/26/2022 11:05:22 AM
Tags: foot, foot pain, news, podiatrist

Search our blog

Popular Tags

3D Mammography   75   75th   acid reflux   addiction   adrc   advance directive   Affective   alcohol   Algoma   Algoma Community Wellness Center   als   alzheimer's disease   Ambassador   American College of Healthcare Executives   Angel Ball   anniversary   antibody treatment   anti-bullying   apnea   art   art for health   art gallery   arthritis   athlete   athletic edge camp   athletic trainer   Auxiliary   award   awards   Awareness   back   behavioral health   bill   bone marrow transplant   Bravo   Breast Cancer Awareness Month   breast cancer prevention   breastfeeding   Brian   brussels sprout slaw   Burkitt Leukemia   C.H.I.P.   cancer   cardiac   cardiopulmonary services   care manager   cataracts   catholic   catholic sisters   Celebrate Community   celebration   center   Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services   ceremony   certification   childcare   children   CHNA   cold flu prevention   colon cancer   colonoscopy   community   community health   Community outreach   Coronavirus   COVID 19   COVID-19 booster   COVID-19 vaccine   critical access hospital   CT scanner   cyberbullying   da Vinci robot   da Vinci Surgical System   daisy award   Daylight Savings Time   DCMC   DCMC Auxiliary   DCMC staff   dementia   dental clinic   dentist   depot   depression   dermatology   diabetes   diagnostic imaging   Diana Wallace   diet   directcare   Disorder   dogs   Domestic Violence Awareness   donate   donor   Door County   Door County CARES   door county half marathon   Door County Meals Cooperative   door county schools   Door County Triathlon   Door County YMCA   Door Healthy Weight Center   Door Orthopedic Center   Dr. Daniel Tomaszewski   Dr. Elizabeth Gaida   Dr. Mark Jordan   Dr. Michael St. Jean   Dr. Reisner   Dr. Rory Johnson   Dr. Shaun Melarvie   drive-through clinic   e-cigs   economic impact   economy   Edge 3D   Education   emergency department   employee art   employment   environment   environmental stewardship   exercise   eye surgery   fair   Family   family medicine   family practice   farmer's market   first responders   fitness   five   five star hospital   Florence Nightingale   flu   foot   foot pain   Foundation   fundraiser   gallery   gardening   general surgery   Gerald   GERD   gynecological procedures   handwashing   happy holidays   head   health   health insurance   health tips   healthcare   healthcare career   healthcare decisions   healthcare leader   healthcare leaders   healthy eating   heart   heart healthy   heart-attack   heartburn   Heartburn and Reflux Center   Help Our Heroes   hernia   hernia screening   hip replacement   history   HOPELINE   hospice   hospital   House and Garden Walk   HPV   Human Kindness Project   immunization   infant   insomnia   insurance workshop   international overdose awareness day   internships   job   job openings   jody boes   joint replacement   June   kelsie ladick   kids   Kids' health   kim   knee replacement   Lab Drive-Thru   LEAP   lice   life   LifeAssist   living will   luke spude   lyme disease   mammography   marinara sauce   medical services   medication   memory   memory clinic   memory loss   men's health   men's health month   mental health   mental illness   milk   ministry   ministry fund   mission and values   MRI   National Donate Life Month   national heath decisions day   national hospital week   National Nurses Week   National Organ Donation Day   National Women’s History Month   navigator   New Year   newborn   news   no surprise act   non-profits   North Shore Medical Clinic   Northeast Wisconsin Technical College   novel coronavirus   nurse   nursing   nursing excellence   nursing program   nutrition   nwtc   obesity   OB-GYN   open house   ophthalmologist   opioid   OPSU   organ   organ donor   orthopedics   outpatient surgery   outreach   pap test   patient   patient care   patient financial services   Patti Balestrieri   Paula Hobart   pediatrics   pelvic health   pets   physical activity   physical therapy   plastic surgery   podiatrist   post exercise tips   PRC   Prevea   prevention   primary care   Providers   race   recipe   recovery   recruitment   reflux   rehab services   resolutions   respiratory illness   robotic surgery   rotator cuff repair   RSV   running   rural   rural healthcare   SAAM   SAD   safe haven   scholarship   scholarships   school   School Nursing   Seasonal   senior life solutions   senior therapy   Seniors   services   sexual assault   Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner   Shop and Dine Day   Sister Bay   Sister Bay Clinic   skilled nursing   skilled nursing facility   skin cancer   Sleep   sleep disorder   sleep lab   smoking   snf   social justice   sparc   specialty providers   sports   sports medicine   sports training   St. Francis   star   state-of-the-art   Stephens   stroke patients   studer group   suicide awareness   suicide awareness month   suicide prevention   summer   summer programs   sun care   surgery   sweet dreams   swiggum   technology   Teen health   Teens   telemedicine   teleNICU   telepediatrics   The Angel Ball   The Community's Garden   The Healing Project   therapy   ticks   tissue donor   to   tooth fairy   training tips   Treatment   triathlon   urgent care   vaccination   vaccinations   vaccine   vaping   virtual appontments   virtual visit   vision   vlog   volunteers   wall   Washington Island   wellness   Wendy Ulrikson   women's center   women's health   work injuries   world breastfeeding week   Worrick   wound care   years   YMCA   youth workshops