Spring is here, bringing warmer weather and increased outdoor sports and activities.

“Everybody is more active with outside events, and they’re more prone to injury,” said Jonathan Labovitz, DPM, FACFAS, College of Podiatric Medicine associate professor and chair of the Department of Medicine, Surgery and Biomechanics. “Pain is not normal. It’s a sign of something wrong and should be assessed.”

April is National Foot Health Awareness Month, and the Foot & Ankle Center team at Western University of Health Sciences wants to remind everyone to take care of their feet and schedule a checkup with a podiatric physician. Call the Foot & Ankle Center at 909-706-3877 to make an appointment. The Foot & Ankle Center is part of WesternU’s Patient Care Center at 795 E. Second St., Pomona, Calif. 91766.

The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) is educating teens about ditching foot pain and learning more about the role of podiatric physicians during 2012’s Foot Health Awareness Month. Click here to view APMA’s myFEET Campaign for Teens.

Some ailments give early warning signs in the feet and toes, and podiatric physicians are frequently the first providers to evaluate and diagnose a systemic problem like diabetes.

Blue thread veins with very white skin could be a sign of vascular disease and even heart disease. Swollen feet are common in people with kidney or heart problems. Corns and blisters could be a sign of diabetes, as sufferers get numb toes and don’t realize their shoes are too tight, according to the California Podiatric Medical Association.

Nearly 26 million Americans live with diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diabetes is the leading cause of non-traumatic lower-limb amputation, but amputations can be prevented. Podiatric physicians play a vital role in treating lower extremity complications from diabetes, preventing amputations, reducing hospitalizations and providing savings to health care delivery systems, according to APMA.

Among patients with commercial insurance, a savings of $19,686 per patient with diabetes can be realized in a three-year period if there is at least one visit to a podiatric physician in the year preceding a diabetic ulceration, according to APMA.

Among Medicare-eligible patients, a savings of $4,271 per patient with diabetes can be realized in a three-year period if there is at least one visit to a podiatric physician in the year preceding ulceration.

Conservatively projected, these per-patient numbers support an estimated $10.5 billion in savings over three years if every at-risk patient with diabetes sees a podiatric physician at least one time in a year preceding the onset of an ulceration.

“Preventative foot care is shown to reduce these risks and help keep people active and more involved in their daily life,” Labovitz said. “Our faculty at the Foot & Ankle Center have the ability to do screenings to meet the need for improved quality of care.”