Let’s Talk About Feet -The Foot Facts


Our feet are made up of 26 bones (which is a quarter of the bones in our body) and over 100 muscles, tendons and ligments. They are one part of our body we take for granted. As far as we are concerned they are suppose to work whether they are in ill fitting shoes (shoes that are too tight or too big), have ailments like corns or calluses, or if we have had a one on one picking session of our toe nails (when we can not be bothered to get a toe nail clipper to do the job) or the skin off our feet (because we cannot be bothered to use a foot file or seek professional help). If you are male especially and asked to use cream the thought is CREAM!! That is for women not us macho men. But when we take into consideration the stresses our feet undertake day in day out we really owe them a lot more respect.

Sit and think about it for a minute try getting up and going to the kitchen or bathroom with out your feet. Good luck.

If you fall into any of these categories then you definitely need to read on but it would be nice to just read on anyway and see what else you can learn about your feet.

Like

  • Did you know that we walk on average 18,000 steps a day (unless we are couch potatoes or course).
  • Most of our foot problems are related to poor fitting shoes from the time we were walking?
  • Did you know that until we are about 8 years old (varies from child to child) the bones in our feet are soft and then to facilitate growth of our feet the soft bones harden. They then start to form plates on the ends of the bone which allow us to grow until we reach puberty, at this time they fuse and become the bony structure we depend on day to day,
  • You should not wear the same shoe every day, the perspiration of our feet can cause the growth of bacteria and fungus in our shoes and result in smelly feet or infections. It is recommended we wear a shoe every other day facilitating enough time for it to thoroughly dry.
  • Washing our feet every day especially soaping between the toes is a way to neutralise bad bacteria that can cause infection.
  • Examining our feet for abnormalities may serve to be preventative for things that can develop to be major foot disorders
  • It is not normal to have whiteness between the little toes and the fourth toe this is as a result of too much moisture and can lead to malodorous feet and infections.
  • There are many foot disorders that can be rectified once they are seen in the early?
  • A Podiatrist is a health care professional trained to diagnose and treat abnormalities of the foot, and give professional advise on prevention of foot problems.

So did you pass the test? Did you know all of these foot facts?

There are many foot ailments but what are some of the most frequent problems of the feet?

Corns and Calluses – these are small or larger areas of dead skin or thickened skin that forms on various parts of the foot as a result of friction in the shoe or from any activity we do that our foot has not easily adapted to performing. Most women of colour consider that the black blemishes on the tops of their toes are corns but they are really just calluses and most of the time it is all scar tissue. A true corn is a very localised area of dead skin with a torque type of friction that results in a cavity being formed once the corn has been removed. On the other hand a callus is a smaller or larger area of dead skin that once removed the person may not be able to tell that there was ever anything there. The treatments that Podiatrist offer for this aim at returning the skin to its natural integrity and once the friction has been reduced or removed they can actually improve or go away.

Interdigital Corns or calluses – these are corns or calluses that occur between the toes especially the fifth or little toe and the fourth toe mainly due to the fact that the little toe is lot shorter than the fourth toe and in a tight shoe will burrow under the fourth toe and cause an irritation. This irritation results in the callus or corn. But as there can be a moisture control problem between the toes at times this corn or callus may become very wet and have a white appearance. The white appearance encourages bacteria or fungus and it is easy to get an infection between the toe call intertrigo. Some time this can be easily solved by using surgical alcohol between the toes and making sure that you have dried between the toes thoroughly but some time stronger treatments are required and professional help is advised.

Bunions or Hallux abductovalgus – this is a deformity at the big toe joint and causes a wider foot, deformity of the other toes, or pain in the big toe region. There is an inherited trait but there is also an acquired one due to the type of foot you have (is it flat or high arched or average) how it functions ( the way you walk) and the shoes you wear. There are various degrees of bunion and some people have them with no pain and some have extreme pain. Some people’s pain is intermittent based on the activities they do, shoes they wear and severity of the bunion in the first place. There are both palliative and surgical methods of care for this condition but the general train of thought is do not be too cosmetic about it, if it does not hurt leave it alone because if you trouble a bunion for cosmetic reasons you may end up having pain you never had before in the joint.

Ingrown toenails are as a result of picking you nails and leaving splinters of the nail under the side of the toe. This results in the side of the nail becoming embedded in the side of the toe and this causes extreme pain, sometimes pus and some times bright red or pink flesh to appear on the side of the toe nail.

Some people do not ever get to this stage but tend to cut a tiny piece of the nail out each time it hurts. This usually solves the problem for a few weeks then it reoccurs. Ingrown toenails are completely treatable and there is no reason to suffer in pain. There are many ways a Podiatrist may chose to deal with this it all depends on the severity of the ingrown toenail.

Heel and arch pain usually occurs on persons of all ages. A lot depends on the activities or lack thereof, footwear and type of foot. Not every heel pain is a heel spur. And steroid injections are not always the answer to this problem. It is a biomechanical problem that can be solved once the origin of the problem is isolated and treated with appropriate foot wear adaptations, inserts or and exercises. The terms usually used for these conditions are plantar fasciitis, heel spur, heel spur syndrome, retro-calcaneal bursitis, tendonitis. It is important that the correct diagnosis is identified in order that it is appropriately treated.

There are many foot disorders that can exist but above I have discussed some of the disorders that are seen often.

If you are diabetic all of the above apply to you too but the important thing to remember is that your feet should come first. If you have complications as a result of the diabetes like loss of feeling in your feet, or poor blood supply to the feet, it is essential to nip it in the bud as soon as possible. Checking your feet every day will help to get you into identifying what your feet look like so that so can determine easily when something is not right and seek appropriate help from a Podiatrist.

Shopping for shoe comfort

Here are some hints to take into consideration when purchasing a shoe. Because this is also an area that causes a lot of frustration.

  • Have a good idea of your shoe size, and only use it as a starting point. That is the first size for the shop assistant to bring for you to try.
  • Visit your shoe store when you have time and the store is not too busy. And if your feet tend to swell go in the afternoon so you find a pair ofshoes that will not be too tight – and a laced or Velcro adjustable strap is the better styles for you.
  • Select your shoe based on the shape of your foot, the length, width and depth of your foot, as just one to two hours in a shoe that is not suitablefor your foot will can cause problems.
  • A broad low heeled shoe is better as it takes the weight off of your toes and ball of your foot.
  • There should enough space to wiggle your toes, and the edge of the shoe which is closest to your big toe should be straight and not slanting into a pointed tip. A tip the shape of some trainers toe box is ideal and in some cases where finding an appropriate shaped shoe is a problem then usingan properly fitting trainer will help to make your feet more comfortable.
  • The sole should be thick enough to be protective to tacks and nails penetrating the shoe and reaching your foot.
  • There should be no seams or button edges or ridges on the inside of the shoe that can make your foot rub
  • The shoe should be long enough to allow for the elongation of your foot when walking.
  • The correct shoe for the right occasion. Comfort shoes for work where we are in them for at least eight to ten hours a day for the average individual. Style shoes for partying and socialising where we are in those type of shoes for two to maybe four hours.

    While it is not readily available here shoe fitting that is measuring of the feet should be done especially if you are a diabetic. With age the ligaments of the feet can become more lax and can increase your shoe size. Shoes made by different brands may have a different fit. So a size 6 in one style/brand shoe may be a 7 or 8 in another.

    As a diabetic because of the altered sensations and circulation it is always important to have a shoe properly fitted and the wearing in of a shoe should not be the opportunity for the shoe to stretch but for the opportunity for your feet to get accustomed to the shoe. If you buy a shoe and wait on the stretch it may never come. Stretching of a shoe will not occur if there is no reason for it to stretch.

    So it is now becoming a little more confusing to buy a pair of shoes. Here are some hints to take into consideration when purchasing a shoe.

  • Have a good idea of your shoe size, and only use it as a starting point. That is the first size for the shop assistant to bring for you to try.
  • Visit your shoe store when you have time and the store is not too busy. And if your feet tend to swell go in the afternoon so you find a pair of shoes that will not be too tight – and a laced or Velcro adjustable strap is the better styles for you.
  • Select your shoe based on the shape of your foot, the length, width and depth of your foot, as just one to two hours in a shoe that is not suitable for your foot will can cause problems.
  • A broad low heeled shoe is better as it takes the weight off of your toes and ball of your foot.
  • There should enough space to wiggle your toes, and the edge of the shoe which is closest to your big toe should be straight and not slanting into a pointed tip. A tip the shape of some trainers toe box is ideal and in some cases where finding an appropriate shaped shoe is a problem then using an properly fitting trainer will help to make your feet more comfortable.
  • The sole should be thick enough to be protective to tacks and nails penetrating the shoe and reaching your foot.
  • There should be no seams or button edges or ridges on the inside of the shoe that can make your foot rub
  • The shoe should be long enough to allow for the elongation of your foot when walking.
  • Questions to ask your self after you have made sure you have fulfilled all the above criteria. How do they feel on? Can I wiggle my toes? Now that I am walking around the store do I feel any rubbing? Now that I am about to take off my shoe and I have sat down and touch the toe box am I feeling any pressure from my toes or foot on the inside of the shoe? Now that I think I am ready to make this selection and I have taken my feet out of the shoe, do I have any slight reddish or whitish marks on my feet that may indicate rubbing that I cannot feel?

    Remember a little too tight shoe may end up being a long hospital stay and a long time off work. A shoe that is too tight and causes rubbing of my toes as they are squeezed together will cause soft corns between the toes and these corns can be very painful and if I am diabetic these corns can lead to ulcers and ulcers can lead to infection and infection can lead to amputation. A shoe that is not deep enough can cause rubbing on the tops of the feet and this can cause nail and joint damage, blisters and corns, calluses and clawed toes.

    If your shoes are too big your feet will slip around too much and could also cause blistering and calluses.

    If you are diabetic remember footwear is important, you should never, be with out shoes. A shoe for all occasion is needed. Even for those trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

    If you have special feet and are still unsure of what shoe selection to make get individual advise from your Podiatrist. Remember, these feet are made for comfort.

    So now that we have looked a t few foot ailments and some footwear tips. I think it is obvious how important our feet are to us and the need to remember then and just DO NOT TAKE THEM FOR GRANTED. RESPECT THEM AND THEY WILL RESPECT YOU.

    By Simone McConnie
    BSC Pod Med (UK)
    Podiatrist in Private practice Barbados