Most of us take our feet for granted. But these marvels of engineering play an important role in moving us through the world and maintaining our independence as we age. Because of all the work they do, feet are one of the most injured parts of the body. Additionally there are a host of conditions – corns, blisters, bunions, athlete’s foot, ingrown toenails, plantar warts – that can make walking painful. Left unattended, these conditions can become serious, leading people to curtail physical activity, which can create a downward spiral of problems.
Most foot ailments are caused by improper foot care, heredity, disease, injury or the effects of aging. People with diabetes are at higher risk of foot problems. One of the most common is peripheral neuropathy, which damages the nerves. It can also lead to Charcot foot, a weakening of the bones in the foot, causing them to break and eventually become deformed. Charcot foot is highly treatable if caught early, but it is often misdiagnosed and because of the nerve damage, many people with the condition don’t feel any pain. Without treatment, this disease can lead to permanent deformity and even amputation.
Here are some tips to help maintain good foot health.
Women have about four times as many foot problems as men, because they tend to be more likely to wear high-heeled, narrow shoes. Proper-fitting shoes are essential for foot health. Find shoes with good arch support and that are comfortable – your feet should never hurt while wearing shoes. If you can, alternate the shoes you wear each day, to give shoes the chance to air out, which can help avoid foot odor and infections.
Feet tend to get overlooked in the shower, but it’s important to wash them regularly – including between the toes. Be sure to dry your feet thoroughly – using a blow dryer works well to keep the feet dry and it feels great, especially during the cold winter months. This will help reduce your chance of getting athlete’s foot, fungus or bacteria which can cause odor.
Many people dismiss foot pain as being a natural part of aging. However, most foot conditions are highly treatable and, if treated, can prevent more serious trouble down the road. If you’re experiencing any discomfort, see your podiatrist immediately, particularly if you have diabetes.
Fedelta’s Foot Care program provides a thorough evaluation by a nurse. They can help reduce corns and calluses, trim and file toenails, and help treat minor problems like an ingrown toenail. For more serious issues, we can make referrals to a podiatrist in your area. Our foot care specialists are trained in diabetic foot care and can provide education and advice on maintaining foot health.