Foot Health

Disease, ill-fitting shoes, poor circulation improperly trimmed toenails, and years of wear and tear are just some of the causes of many common foot problems.

Foot problems can often reflect our overall health or can lead to further issues. This is why it is important to practise good foot hygiene and for you to check your feet regularly or, alternatively, have them checked by a member of the family. Foot health care is important for your well-being.

Preventing Foot Trouble

Improving the circulation of blood to the feet can help prevent many issues. Exposure to cold temperatures or water, pressure from shoes, long periods of sitting, or smoking can all reduce blood flow to the feet. Even sitting with your legs crossed or wearing tight socks can affect circulation. On the other hand, raising the feet, standing up and stretching, walking, and other forms of exercise promote good circulation. Simple foot health tips like gently massaging your feet each day or having regular warm footbaths can also help increase the circulation to the feet.

 

See Our Insoles

Wearing comfortable shoes that fit well can prevent many foot ailments. Always have your feet measured before buying shoes. Foot width may increase with age. The upper part of the shoes should be made of a soft, flexible material to match the shape of your foot. Shoes made of leather can reduce the possibility of skin irritations. Soles should provide solid footing and not be slippery. Thick soles lessen pressure when walking on hard surfaces. Low-heeled shoes are more comfortable, safer, and less damaging to foot health than high-heeled shoes.

Fit orthotic insoles to help support your feet where required and to provide extra comfort and relief from foot pain problems. The wide range of insoles available from FootActive is designed to help deal with very differing foot problems for people of all ages, ranging from gait correction to flat feet.

Podiatrists and primary care physicians are qualified to treat most foot heath matters, however, sometimes the special skills of an orthopaedic surgeon or dermatologist are needed for more severe problems.

Aches and Pains

 

When your feet ache after a long day, you might just curse your shoes. Many people say their shoes hurt. But foot pain problems are not all caused by poorly made or poorly fitting shoes. Your aching, sore feet could have other foot health problems.

The most common cause of heel pain is plantar fasciitis, inflammation of the area where this long ligament attaches to the heel bone. The pain may be sharpest when you first wake up and put pressure on the foot. 

Heel pain can also be caused by Arthritis, excessive exercise, poorly fitting shoes or tendonitis.

To access the appropriate foot health solutions, you will first need to know the cause of your foot discomfort.Less common causes include a bone infection, tumour, or a fracture. A stress fracture - a small crack in a bone – can be caused by intense, high-impact exercise such as basketball or distance running. The weakened bones of osteoporosis increase the risk of fractures occurring.

If you feel like you're walking on a marble, or if pain burns in the ball of your foot and radiates to the toes, you may have Morton’s neuroma. This foot condition is a thickening of tissue around a nerve, usually between the third and fourth toes. It is 8 to 10 times more common in women than in men and it is caused by injury or placing too much pressure on the toes.

Your doctor can provide you with foot health care tips to help you with aches and pains or refer you to a specialist if required.

Other Common Foot Health Concerns 

Fungal and bacterial conditions

Fungal and bacterial conditions - including the commonly known athlete's foot - occur because the feet are usually enclosed in a dark, damp, warm environment. These infections can cause redness, blisters, peeling, and itching. If not treated promptly, an infection may become chronic and difficult to cure. To prevent these conditions, keep the feet - especially the area between the toes - clean and dry, and expose the feet to air whenever possible. If you are prone to this type of fungal infection, you may want to dust your feet daily with a fungicidal powder.

Dry, irritated skin

Dry skin can cause itching and burning feet. Use mild soap sparingly and a body lotion on your legs and feet every day. The best moisturisers contain petroleum jelly or lanolin. Be cautious about adding oils to bath water since they can make the feet and bathtub slippery.

Corns and Calluses

Corns and calluses are caused by the friction and pressure of bony areas rubbing against shoes. The simple cure may be to wear better-fitting shoes or special pads. Over-the-counter medicines contain acids that destroy the tissue but do not treat the cause. These medicines can sometimes reduce the need for surgery. Treating corns or calluses yourself may be harmful, especially if you have diabetes-related foot health problems or poor circulation. These foot health matters should be overseen by a physician.

Warts

Warts are skin growths caused by viruses. They are sometimes painful and, if untreated, may spread. Since over-the-counter preparations rarely cure warts, make sure that you seek professional treatment. A doctor can apply medicines, burn, or freeze the wart off, or remove the wart surgically.

Bunions

Bunions develop when big toe joints are out of line and become swollen and tender. Bunions may be caused by poorly fitting shoes that press on a deformity or an inherited weakness in the foot. If a bunion is not severe, wearing shoes cut wide at the instep and toes may provide relief. Protective pads can also cushion the painful area, providing relief from your foot pain problems.

Ingrown toenails

Ingrown toenails occur when a piece of the nail breaks the skin. The most common cause of this is improperly trimmed nails. Ingrown toenails are especially common in the large toes. A podiatrist or doctor can remove the part of the nail that is cutting into the skin. This will allow the area to heal. A good foot health tip is to cut toenails straight across and level with the top of the toe to avoid ingrown nails developing.

Hammertoe

The shortening of the tendons that control the toe movements causes hammertoe. The toe knuckle is usually enlarged, drawing the toe back. Over time, the joint enlarges and stiffens as it rubs against shoes. Your balance may be affected. It is best avoided by wearing shoes and socks with plenty of room in the toe. In advanced cases, surgery may be needed.

Bone Spurs

Spurs are calcium growths that develop on bones of the feet. They are caused by muscle strain in the feet and are irritated by standing for long periods of time, wearing badly fitting shoes, or being overweight. Sometimes they are completely painless, but at other times the pain can be severe. Treatments for spurs include using proper foot support, heel pads, heel cups, or other recommendations by a podiatrist or surgeon.

Irregularity in Appearance

Toenail colour, shape and texture can also point to numerous foot health problems such as spoon-shaped toenails (iron deficiency), white nails (psoriasis, diabetes, liver or heart problems), pitted nails (nail growth problem or psoriasis). and clubbed toes (a wide range of causes including lung and digestive disorders amongst others).

If you are concerned about any of these characteristics, or any other foot health matters, let your doctor know.

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