Lack of Mobility Can Affect Mental Health

by Brad L. Hayman, D.P.M., Complete Foot & Ankle Care 

The practice of medicine, including the medical and surgical management of leg, ankle and foot problems, is about quality of life. To me this directly equates to mental health.

If anyone has difficulty walking it affects every part of their life. Hiking, walking for exercise, going to the store, activities of daily living: all involve walking.

The human body is designed to walk upright. This is unique in the animal world and allows us to do things with our hands other creatures cannot. When people are in pain and have difficulty standing, walking or have balance issues, their quality of life is greatly diminished.

By extension, many of these people become depressed, anxious and otherwise suffer from mental health issues. While I am not a psychiatrist or psychologist or a mental health professional, I can recognize the common elements of these conditions and how they can affect a person’s quality of life.

Medical care often involves visits to doctors, hospitals, clinics, emergency departments and other health professions that contributes to stress and anxiety, not only with the treatment but as an interruption to one’s life. This includes affecting family and friends. The “ripple effect” of one person’s health care is often under appreciated. 

In today’s health care world I would be remiss not to mention the stress and anxiety caused by the financial strain faced by many people who require health care. Many delay seeking care due to financial reasons. Not only does this cause increased pain and suffering, but often a delay in care makes a medical problem worse.  All health care professionals would likely encourage people to have regular medical care, manage chronic disease and treat acute problems as soon as possible.  

The issue of mental health is complex and involves the care of people by professionals in many disciplines. To me, mental health and quality of life are intertwined. It would be hard to imagine one without the other.

While my expertise is in podiatry, I feel it is my professional duty to ultimately help people stand and/or walk better. This allows them the freedom of mobility and opportunity to enjoy life, and I hope, contribute to their better mental health.