You'll be seeing a lot of green tomorrow and that's because it's St. Patrick's Day; a holiday based around drinking and dying lots of random things green. There are a lot of reasons to stay extra safe and drink responsibly on St. Patty’s Day,but this year, do it for your feet. In terms of major holidays, St. Patty’s Day isn’t celebrated as much as you’d think, but those who do celebrate tend to do so with a lot of green beer so safety should still be a priority. Alcohol related foot and ankle injuries can’t be avoided by the luck of the Irish, so make sure you know what to look out for this St. Patty’s Day.
Trips and Falls
Most people worry about trips and falls in the winter when conditions aren’t at their best. However, even if conditions are perfect, if you aren’t walking at your best, you could be risking a serious fall and potential injury. Alcohol is a factor in about 1/3 of all fall related injuries treated at hospitals. While it’s in the minority, detailed studies of these patients reveal that the severity of the injury increases significantly when alcohol is involved. A bruised ankle is much quicker to heal than a fractured one and DUI accidents result in more fatalities than non-alcohol related accidents. Be aware of your footing throughout the day and know when you’ve hit your drink limit before you surpass it. If you think your bar tab is high, just wait until you get the hospital bill from your alcohol related emergency room visit.
Gout is a form of arthritis and symptoms are triggered when people eat or drink foods high in purines. Beer is chock full of purines and should be avoided completely by those who have been diagnosed with gout. Patients who drink one beer daily are 1.5 times more likely to get gout symptoms than those that refrain. Don’t think you’re home free with other types of alcohol either. Alcohol is filtered through the kidneys and causes a rise in uric acid, leading to gout symptoms that include purple or reddish discoloration, limited joint movement, and severe pain and sensitivity in the toes, particularly the big toe. If you have been diagnosed with gout, or experience any of these symptoms within a few hours or a few days of drinking, it may be best to avoid the green beer and stick to water instead.
You probably won’t have to worry about this one if you only drink on major holidays, but long-term alcohol use can lead to nerve damage in the limbs. Those with alcohol neuropathy have permanently damaged their peripheral nerves and this leads to tingling sensations and pain in their hands and feet. Alcohol is not the only contributing factor. Vitamin deficiencies can also lead to these symptoms, but symptoms will worsen with alcohol consumption. Luckily, abstaining from alcohol can help restore most nerves back to a healthy state and vitamin levels to normal. Some damage however, may be permanent. The easiest way to avoid alcoholic neuropathy is to consume alcohol only in moderation.
Don’t Forget to Tip your Bartender
If you decide not to tip your hardworking bartender, you may be directly jeopardizing their foot health. Bars tend to open earlier and stay open later on St. Patty’s day, meaning much longer shifts for the staff. Do you know what it’s like to be standing and running around serving drinks on your feet for 10 hours at a time? They do and let me tell you, their feet are punishing them for it by the end of the night. Just the added stress of standing longer can lead to a myriad of other foot problems, all resulting in foot pain. Tip them well; they are sacrificing their health for you.
Follow these tips and maybe you can avoid a trip to the podiatrist this St. Patty’s Day. However, if you do need help with a foot or ankle injury, don’t forget that the FAAWC has walk-in hours for instant access to our doctors. Be safe and wear green to avoid a day of playful pinching.