It’s time to start thinking about your foot health, as we spend the next four weeks raising awareness of podiatry, the art of “great feet”.
Our feet contain 52 bones which about one quarter of all the bones in your body. Each foot contains 7,000 nerve endings and 250,000 sweat glands!. Which is why our feet get so sweaty and smelly!
The average person walks around 100,000 miles in a lifetime, so it’s no wonder 75% of people suffer foot problems at some point in their life.
To “kick” start this month we will be exploring what makes our feet hurt, and why that can differ from person to person. Some symptoms are well known, whereas others may be an indicator of serious ill health.
Let’s first take a look at the more common symptoms of sore feet! –
Misalignments of the foot structure OR shoes that are not correctly fitted can cause bunions.
Thought to be hereditary, but also occur in people with flat feet. Symptoms include a lump on the outside edge of the foot which can be red and sore on the joint.
What to do if you have Bunions?
Your podiatrist can help ease the pain with specialised tape which can reduce the
stress however if symptoms become worse you may need surgery.
Normally toenail fungus is caused by sweaty feet and tight shoes, however, it can be contracted. Which is why it’s best to wear flip flops at swimming pools and public showers! If you experience symptoms such as –
- Crumbly, ragged or thickened nail
- Loosened nail
- Dark colour under the nail
- Spots down the side of the nail
The likelihood is you have toenail fungus.
What to do if you have toenail fungus?
Regularly washing your feet AND drying them thoroughly can help your body rid the bacteria naturally. However your doctor can help you along with an anti-fungal cream.
An issue we see not only in clients who wear tightly fitted shoes but also ones who forget the importance of trimming those toenails.
What to do if you have Ingrown toenails?
Early stages of an ingrown nail can be easily dealt with at home by soaking the affected foot in warm water for 5 minutes. Do not cut your nail. Soaking the feet softens the skin so the nail can grow out. If your nail has curled into the skin of has become infected, you will need to seek medical help.
Cracked heels or heel fissures
Fissures are a result of dry skin and can become painful if not treated. In most cases a good moisturising treatment can prevent the heels becoming any worse. As with quite a lot of foot conditions, cracked heels are normally caused by shoes. Open backs, tight shoes, or loose shoes that rub have all been known to cause cracked heels (along with standing on them too much).
What to do if you have cracked heels?
Keep them moisturised, especially after a bath or shower. If your feet are already cracked and have become sore seek further medical help from your podiatrist.
Corns and calluses
Often mistaken for bunions, corns and calluses are the body’s natural way of protecting the underlying area. Producing a hard layer of skin (like a shield) on areas which suffer pressure or rubbing.
What to do if you have corns or calluses?
Removal is pretty straightforward however we would recommend a podiatrist does this for you to prevent infection.
The most common cause of heel pain, plantar fasciitis occurs when the ligament responsible for supporting the foot’s arch becomes inflamed.
Plantar fasciitis is often seen in people who are overweight, have a very high arch or tight calf muscles. However it can also be brought on by repetitive stress in the heel, such as running.
What to do if you have plantar fasciitis?
Resting the foot and applying ice can reduce inflammation, however in cases where the pain does not get better physiotherapy, a podiatrist or an orthopaedic surgeon would be your next route of action.
Claw toe or claw foot
Claw toe becomes noticeable when the first toe joint points up and the second toe joint points down. Not thought to be painful, but can be a sign of diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis so visiting your podiatrist is recommended.
What to do if you have claw foot/toe?
Treatments can include splints, exercises, medication, or in some cases surgery.
Some of the more uncommon “flaws” that come from your feet can tell you more about your general health. These sometimes subtle signs can be a warning of more serious health conditions.
Here we explore some of the more bizarre indicators which are well worth watching out for
Concave or sunken toenails can be a sign of chronic iron deficiency anemia.
IDA is a common type of anemia which due to the lack of red blood cells can leave you feeling tired and short of breath.
A trip to your local GP where you can be provided Iron tablets or injections will resolve your issue within 6 months.
Foot drop (the inability to lift the front part of your foot)
Foot drop can be a sign of many things but is linked directly to neurodegenerative disorders. Underlying disorders include multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), stroke, cerebral palsy, and polio.
If you experience a sudden paralysis or weakness when trying to lift the foot you should seek medical advice as soon as possible.
Feet that don’t heal!
Wounds on feet that don’t seem to heal quickly is a sign of diabetes.
If left untreated or undiagnosed for long periods you may require surgery so if you have any worries then book in for a blood test with your local GP.
Smooth hairless feet
Some people are born with silky smooth feet whereas others can be burdened with hairy hobbit toes! If you notice your feet are balding then it could be an indication of PAD (Peripheral Arterial Disease).
PAD is a circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your limbs.
Once diagnosed PAD can be managed to prevent more serious issues occurring.
Numbness in both feet can be a sign of peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy develops when nerves in the body’s hands, feet or arms are damaged. It can feel like pins and needles or can be completely numb. Either way, a check up at your local GP surgery should be booked as soon as possible.
How can I care for my feet?
The main lesson to learn here is good shoes. It’s been said enough times that high heels and tightly worn pumps do nothing for the health of your feet. However, we understand that everyone likes to look good. So firstly, buy shoes that fit correctly and if you must wear heels, take some trainers as well so you can slip into them at convenient moments.
Also, remember flimsy footwear like sandals or flip-flops offer no support. So try not to wear these for long periods of time or even worse, long walks!
Good foot hygiene can save you the embarrassment of foot odour. It can also save you from dry skin and thick skin.
Get into a habit of washing your feet, drying them thoroughly, and moisturising after every shower or bath.
Once a week file the dead skin and also trim your nails to prevent ingrown nails.
Change your socks often and avoid shoes that make your feet sweat.
Most importantly – visit your local podiatrist when you have a build up of dry skin or any foot pain.
It’s always best to address any issues you experience with your feet straight away, remember your feet work hard to get you about, it’s time you looked after them.
Book in to see one of our specialist podiatrists for more advice on foot care.