Foot Problems, Common and not so Common

Here are some foot problems that you should be aware of, some are common, and some are not so common.

Plantar Fasciitis is a foot problem your doctor will diagnose. It affects the soles of your feet. The fascia is a band of fibrous tissue that is very strong. This tissue connects your heel bone to the base of your toes. When your feet are healthy and pain free, the plantar fascia is like a shock absorbing bowstring, is how the Mayo Clinic describes it. This shock absorbing bowstring supports the arches in your feet and if there is too much tension it can cause small rips in the fascia. Naturally, the more you use your feet, the more irritated it becomes causing inflammation. It can affect one foot or the other but generally not at the same time. If you have this problem it is usually due to an injury that causes the fascia to become inflamed and you will usually feel pain on the bottom of your heel. It hurts like the dickens in the morning after sleeping all night.

You may be more likely to experience this problem if you have high arches or if you are flatfooted. You may also be at risk if your job requires a lot of walking or standing for long periods. The first sign is a mild pain at the heel bone. This condition is sometimes called a stone bruise. It can become chronic if left untreated. There are some other factors that can greatly increase your chances of developing this condition such as being overweight, or jobs and other situations that cause you to be on your feet for extended periods of time. A considerable amount of walking on hard surfaces in poor quality shoes with little to no arch support is just asking for it. Now I’m going to tell you something that, at first, may seem contradictory. If you lead a sedentary life style, you have an increased chance of developing this condition than someone who exercises regularly. One more reason you need to get a physical program going and lose weight.

If you have developed this problem just use common sense and realize the best thing is rest. Stay off it, apply ice for twenty minutes every few hours or so, and take an anti inflammatory like ibuprofen. Remember what I said earlier about shoes? Once you have successfully treated this problem and your feet are back to normal, keep them happy and give them their best chance of not developing problems later by wearing good quality shoes. It is absolutely critical that they are made from quality materials with excellent arch support.

Neuropathy is another condition that your doctor will diagnose. Neuropathy is characterized by having lost sensation in your feet. There are other sensations your feet and legs may encounter such as pins and needles, numbness, or a slight burning sensation. Your feet won’t be able to tell the difference between extreme heat and extreme cold. There are four types of neuropathy or nerve damage. The most common is called peripheral polyneuropathy and generally affects your feet and legs. You can check the internet or your local library if you want to learn more about the three other types of neuropathy.

Knowing what causes this condition can give you a greater control in terms of prevention. In addition to diabetes, some of the other causes include herpes infection, alcoholism, AIDS, and a wide assortment of toxins. If you have this, your doctor will probably tell you the same things I’m telling you. You’ll need to make some life style changes, if you drink alcohol, cut it out or at least cut down. If you smoke, don’t even cut down, cut it out. Smoking restricts blood vessels. Good quality foot wear will help lower your risk of neuropathy. There are some things that you can do to help alleviate the pain. Consider the use of acupuncture which has been very effective in treating many conditions and ailments for thousands of years. Alpha Lipoic Acid has been able to reduce the pain and symptoms of peripheral diabetic neuropathy.

Hammer toe and mallet toe are conditions that may also be referred to as bone spurs. You may experience this if you wear tight fitting shoes that place pressure on the toes causing a bending in joints of the toe. This condition left untreated will cause the second, third, or fourth toe to be permanently deformed. There is pain and sometimes the skin swells causing a corn. You will need to have the corns and calluses trimmed. It is highly recommended that you do not attempt this yourself and consult a healthcare professional. While hammer toe affects the middle joint of a toe, another condition called mallet toe affects the upper joint of the toe. Usually the toe doesn’t have room in the front of the shoe causing it to bend at the upper joint. This problem can be corrected, depending on the degree of deformity, by physical therapy and wearing good quality shoes with plenty of space for your tootsies. Tight fitting shoes that don’t fit well are more than likely the cause. You can buy over the counter pads to protect the corns and calluses from being irritated. Sometimes a hammer toe can become so rigid that surgery is the only answer. That’s a serious waste of time and money when all you have to do is wear good quality shoes that fit your feet well.

Most bunions affect the big toe creating an enlargement at the base of it. Sometimes a bunion can be caused by a misalignment of the big toe. This condition is accompanied by tenderness, redness, inflammation, and pain. There is also a less common bunion that causes an enlargement of the fifth metatarsal bone in your little toe. It is sometimes referred to as a tailor’s bunion. If you develop this problem you will only make it worse by wearing poor quality shoes or shoes that don’t fit properly and cause friction and pressure on your toe. This is a good reason why bunions affect more women than men, because of tight fitting, narrow toed, high heel shoes. Sometimes just changing to a better fitting more comfortable pair of shoes and taking some ibuprofen will help considerably with inflammation. Bunion pads will also help reduce the pain in your feet and ankles. If that doesn’t seem to help, talk to your doctor, he may give you a corticosteroid injection to reduce inflammation. As a last resort surgery may be necessary.

I feel compelled to say this again. Wear good quality shoes that provide the best comfort available for your feet. Remember this when it comes to tight fitting narrow toed shoes with heels. The higher the heel of your shoe is, the more force is applied in pushing your toes forward in the shoe causing foot and toe problems.

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