Foot Health Awareness

Foot Health Awareness

Have you ever stopped to really think about how important your feet are to your everyday life? How about how much you neglect them?

I would like to discuss some of the most common foot conditions and how they are caused, how they can be treated, and how they can be prevented.

Hammer Toes: A hammer toe is a toe that is contracted at the PIP joint (middle joint in the toe), potentially leading to severe pressure and pain. Ligaments and tendons that have tightened cause the toe’s joints to curl downwards. Hammer toes may occur in any toe except the big toe. Changing the type of footwear worn is a very important step in the treatment of hammer toes. When choosing a shoe, make sure the toe box (toe area) is high and broad, and can accommodate the hammer toes. Other conservative treatments include using forefoot products designed to relieve hammer toes, such as hammer toe crests and hammer toe splints. These devices will help hold down the hammer toe and provide relief to the forefoot.

Bunions: Bunions are one of the most common forefoot problems. A bunion is a prominent bump on the inside of the foot around the big toe joint. This causes a common forefoot condition called overlapping toes. Some of the symptoms of bunions include inflammation, swelling, and soreness on the side surface of the big toe. In the early stages of the formation of a bunion, soaking feet in warm water can provide temporary relief. The best way to alleviate the pain associated with bunions is to wear properly fitting shoes. Other conservative treatments include using forefoot products designed to accommodate and relieve bunions such as bunion shields, bunion night splints, and bunion bandages.

Athlete’s Foot: Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that causes red, dry, flaking skin, sometimes accompanied by pain or itching. The condition usually occurs between the toes or on the soles or sides of the feet. Fungal infections like are often contracted in showers, gyms, dressing rooms, swimming pool lockers, or other warm, damp areas where fungus can thrive. Vigilant foot hygiene can prevent Athlete’s Foot. Daily washing of the feet with soap and water followed by thorough drying, especially between the toes, is important. Wearing dry, airy shoes and socks, not borrowing footwear from others, avoiding tight hosiery and using foot powder all help to keep the feet dry and infection free. When using public showers or pool areas it is a good idea to wear protective shoes.

Plantar Fasciitis: Plantar Fasciitis is an inflammation caused by excessive stretching of the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a broad band of fibrous tissue, which runs along the bottom surface of the foot, attaching at the bottom of the heel bone and extending to the forefoot. When the plantar fascia is excessively stretched, this can cause plantar fasciitis. The excessive stretching of the plantar fascia that leads to the inflammation and discomfort can be caused by the following: Over-pronation (flat feet) which results in the arch collapsing upon weight bearing, a foot with an unusually high arch, and a sudden increase in physical activity. The key for the proper treatment of plantar fasciitis is determining what is causing the excessive stretching of the plantar fascia. Avoid running on hard or uneven ground, lose any excess weight, and wear shoes and orthotics that support your arch to prevent over-stretching of the plantar fascia.

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