The human foot is comprised of 26 bones, 33 joints, and hundreds of tendons and ligaments. Our feet are responsible for carrying us through our life, but sometimes we don’t care for them the way we should. From wearing the proper footwear to keeping them clean and dry, there are several things you can do to promote healthy feet. But, even the most diligent people are susceptible to common foot problems. Here are a few of the most prevalent conditions and tips for preventing and treating them.
1. Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot is common among active individuals. This fungal infection develops between the toes and causes extreme irritation and itching. Sufferers need to be careful though because athlete’s foot can spread and eventually cause pain. The most common way to develop athlete’s foot is through contact at a pool, shower, or gym. This is where people walk around barefoot, easily spreading the fungal infection. Pools and showers are the perfect breeding ground for fungus because of the warmth and moisture found there.
If you think you have athlete’s foot, wear shoes that are open and allow air in. This helps reduce fungus growth. Dry, clean feet are the key to treating athlete’s foot. You can also invest in antifungal treatments including powders, creams, or sprays. Avoid walking around barefoot at home or anywhere else during an outbreak.
2. Heel Spurs
This is a foot condition that doesn’t always show obvious symptoms. A heel spur is caused by an outgrowth of calcium on the arch of the foot or heel bone. Some people don’t even realize they have a spur, but for those that do, it’s extremely painful. Heel spurs cause inflammation and over time, put strain on the ligaments and muscles in the foot. At home treatment includes ice, rest, and anti-inflammatory medications. A doctor may recommend a specially designed shoe insert or injections. If you suspect you have heel spurs, your doctor will use medical imaging to diagnose your condition. While there’s no known cause for heel spurs, obesity, arthritis, and improper footwear may be to blame.
3. Plantar Fasciitis
If you’re experiencing extreme heel pain that’s affecting how you walk, sleep or exercise, you might have plantar fasciitis. Extreme pain in the heel is the first sign of this condition. Pain is usually worse in the morning, when you’ve been inactive for several hours. This causes the ligaments to tighten. But, what exactly causes this condition? When the plantar fascia ligament (which supports the arch of your foot) becomes inflamed, it causes extreme pain and discomfort. There’s no known cause for the condition but instead risk factors. These include:
- Having a high arch
- Tight calf muscles
- Extreme stress on the heel
- Excessive running (and improper form)
The good news is, at-home treatments can help. When the condition is at its worst, try applying ice and taking anti-inflammatory medication. Regularly stretching both before and after exercise can help reduce discomfort and keep the ligament loose. Some people require specially designed, supportive shoes. These professionals can also offer physical therapy or surgical treatment options if your condition doesn’t improve.
Blisters. We’ve all had them. A fluid filled sack usually found on the back of the heel or side of the foot due to friction or irritation. The most common cause of bunions is wearing improper footwear. Shoes that are too tight, made of uncomfortable material, or worn without socks, can all cause blisters. The good news is, blisters aren’t a serious condition and usually go away on their own. While it might be tempting to pop your blisters to release the fluid and pressure, it’s best to let them drain on their own. If the blister is bothering you, try placing a bandage over it. Most blisters heal within three and seven days.
5. Ingrown Toenails
Ingrown toenails are surprisingly common and painful. Several things can cause your nail to grow into the nail groove. Cutting your toenails improperly can interrupt the growing process. Trauma to the toenails from sports, running or badly-fitting shoes are also to blame. But the development of ingrown toenails isn’t completely within your control. Genetics can also play a part. If you have a family history of ingrown toenails, you’re at greater risk for developing them yourself. Common symptoms include swelling, redness, and pain. Drainage is a sign that the toenail has become infected.
Prevent ingrown toenails by always cutting the nail straight across. Avoid a rounded tip. Take your time when clipping your toenails and do it after your shower, when the nail is soft. Make sure your shoes fit properly and aren’t too snug in the toes. This can compress the toes, pushing nails into the skin. In some cases, an ingrown toenail will heal on its own. If you suspect an infection is present or the toenail stops you from walking, seek a professional opinion.
A shocking 23% of people aged 18 to 65 have experienced bunions. Another 35% of people over the age of 65 also suffer from this condition. Tight shoes create abnormalities in the foot and put pressure on the MTP joint (metatarsophalangeal). This is where the foot meets the bone of your big toe and it’s here that bunions (bumps) form. Because of narrow fitting shoes, women are more likely to develop bunions than men. If you suffer from polio or rheumatoid arthritis, you’re also at greater risk for developing bunions. Genetics play a key role in this condition, as well. Common symptoms of bunions include pain or tenderness near the big toe or a visible bump.
After a bunion develops, you should avoid shoes with a heel or boots. Stick with flat, comfortable shoes that don’t place additional pressure on the area. Most drugstores sell bunion pads, which add extra cushion inside your shoes. Anti-inflammatory medication and ice can help reduce discomfort and inflammation. If these remedies don’t help, your bunion may need surgical intervention.
If you have any of these common foot conditions, the good news is, most are easily treatable. Investing in shoes that fit properly and comfortably is step number one. Keeping your feet dry and clean is another useful tip. Take care of your feet so they can continue to carry you through life!
Article Submitted By Community Writer