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Review of Foot Problems

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

Athlete's foot

Athlete's foot

Foot Problems

One of my daughter-in-laws just had surgery for plantar fasciitis and another good friend has a hammertoe, so I thought a review of foot problems and treatments would be a good topic.

Problems with the feet often occur due to improper foot function. Shoes that don’t fit properly can worsen a foot problem or even cause one. There are numerous types of foot problems that affect the toes, heels, tendons, nerves, ligaments and joints of the foot.

Common Foot Problems

Some of the most common foot problems include:

  • Athlete’s foot
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Heel spur
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Bunions
  • Corns
  • Callus
  • Blisters
  • Flat feet
  • Gout

Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection that occurs when your foot is exposed to the fungus, like in a gym, shower or pool area where people walk barefooted. Fungus will thrive in a dark, warm environment. Shoes that are warm and damp will cause the fungus to grow. The fungus can spread to other areas of the body. It can cause itching, cracking, blistering, and peeling of the feet

There are over-the-counter remedies, but if the condition spreads your doctor can prescribe an oral antifungal medication.

Corns

Corns

Corns

Corns on the toe are typically yellowish, like a callus on the toe. This occurs due to your toe rubbing against the show or another toe. Treatment includes:

  • Trimming the coen by shaving the layers of dead skin
  • Pads that fit around the area of the corn
  • Surgery

It is important to wear shoes that fit properly.

Bunion

A protrusion of bone or tissue around a joint is a bunion. They often occur at the base of the great toe or the little toe. Stress over a period of time can cause this problem. Women get bunions more often as they tend to wear tight, pointed and confining shoes. Arthritis is another causative factor.

Treatments vary due to pan and the deformity. Medications like ibuprofen may help. Applying pads to the affected area or surgery may be necessary.

How do you get rid of bunions?

Callus

Callus

Callus

A callus is a thickened area that forms on the skin due to repeated friction. They can form on the feet or the hands. Calluses are not harmful, but they may lead to other problems, such as a skin ulceration or infection.

There are over-the-counter patches that can remove the excessive tissue. If you have an underlying foot deformity your physician may order orthotics (shoe inserts). In rare cases surgery may be necessary.

Ingrown Toenail

An ingrown toenail occurs when the nail grows into the nail groove, and it is painful. This also can occur with tight fitting shoes and not cutting your toenails properly (too short). A family history of this problem may increase your risk.

There are several possible treatment, including:

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  • Wash you feet with antibacterial soap, then keep them clean and dry
  • Cut the toenails following a warm bath when the nails are soft
  • Avoid cutting the nails in a rounded pattern, but cut them straight across
  • Wear a shoe that does not have a pointy tip

See a podiatrist or orthopedic surgeon for infections or if there is no improvement.

Heel Spur

Heel Spur

Heel Spur

Heel spurs are calcium deposits that cause a bony protrusion on the underside of the heel bone. These are often painless, but they are often associated with plantar fasciitis.

Nonsurgical treatments include stretching, proper shoes, night splints and orthotics. If non-surgical treatments fail after 9-12 months surgery will be an option for approximately 10% of patients.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain as it involves inflammation of the thick band of tissue that runs from the heel to the toes. You will feel this pain when walking and especially when you take your first steps in the morning. As the day goes on the pain may be less, but it may increase after long periods of standing.

This painful problem occurs most often in people who run and doe the obese. The exact cause is poorly understood. It is most common in people between the ages of 40 to 60 years. It is also the most common in those with jobs that require a lot of standing.

Ignoring this condition is not a good idea as you may change the way you walk, thus creating a problem with your knees or your back. Most people will recover with conservative treatments. Using ice on the heel, stretching, avoiding activity that causes the pain and taking non-steroidal medications may help.

You can also receive further help using physical therapy or use a night splint to lengthen the foot position overnight to promote stretching while you sleep. A custom-fitted arch supports (orthotics) may also ease the pain. If these conservative measures don’t help, then your physician may give you an injection of steroid medication. There is extracorporeal shock wave therapy, ultrasonic tissue repair and the last resort is surgery to detach the plantar fascia from the heel bone.

Heel Pain from Plantar Fasciitis and How to Treat It

Hammer Toe, Diabetic Neuropathy and Flat Feet

A hammer toe buckles, which causes the middle joint to poke out. Shoes that fit too tight will aggravate this condition. A corn will often develop at this site.

Diabetic neuropathy may cause foot problems as diabetes affects the nerves and the blood vessels. Anyone with diabetes should check their feet regularly for sores or wounds to avoid any complications.

Flat feet occur when the arch of the foot touches the floor. This develops when the arches don't develop during childhood. If you are pain free no treatment is required

Gout

Gout

Gout

Persistent levels of uric acid in the blood causes gout, which is a red, tender, hot, and swollen joint. The pain reaches maximum intensity in about 12 hours.

There is a genetic component with gout, but diet is a large factor. Diets high in alcohol, meat, seafood, anchovies, organ meat, dried mushrooms and seaweed are associated with gout. Some medical conditions are also common with gout, such as hypertension, abdominal obesity and insulin resistance.

There are medications that help to prevent gout, but allopurinol is the most commonly used medication. NSAIDs such as ibuprofen are commonly used for treatment. Colchicine is used for those who cannot take NSAIDs. Glucocorticoids are also an effective treatment and they may be injected into the affected toe. Gout resolves in 5-6 days without treatment, but 60% of patients have a second bout of gout within a year.

Final Conclusions

Most of the foot disorders can be prevented with shoes that fit well and do not have pointed toes. Shoe inserts (orthotics) help prevent many foot problems, and they provide more comfort when walking. Treat any foot problems early to prevent complications.

References

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2022 Pamela Oglesby

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