Get Well Wednesday: How To Keep Your Feet Healthy

 

We use our feet the most and probably think about them least, unless it’s pedicure time or when they start hurting. And nobody likes it when their feet hurt. Texas-based podiatrist Dr. Roderick Hunter wants to help you reclaim your feet and give them the love and support they deserve so they can support you in all you want to do. Here’s some tips and information on keeping your feet happy.

WHY ARE HIGH HEELS ARE ACTUALLY BAD FOR YOUR FEET?

Some of the main reasons that high heels are actually bad for your feet are that they do not allow for equal distribution of weight depending on the heel height.  This can lead to shortening of the Achilles tendon which is technically causing equinus deformity which causes your heel to be forced up and puts extra weight on the forefoot.  Over time, this can lead to hammertoe formation and bunion formation which may necessitate surgical treatment to correct.

ARE THERE CERTAIN TYPES OF HEELS THAT ARE BETTER FOR YOUR FEET THAN OTHERS?

If an individual really felt the need to wear high heels, I would recommend a lower heel or a wedge instead of a higher heel. Again, the higher the heel, the more pressure that you put on the forefoot and the shorter you potentially make your Achilles tendon.

 WHAT CAUSES BUNIONS AND IS THERE A WAY TO TREAT THEM OTHER THAN SURGERY?

Bunions can be caused by a multitude of things.  Commonly, they can be caused by trauma, or they can be hereditary, or they can be caused by improper shoe wear.

Bunions can be managed nonsurgically with bunion splints, a wider shoe, toe spacers, or injection therapy.  We have to remember, that bunions are a bony deformity and thus given the length and severity of the bunion, surgery may be a foregone conclusion.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BUNION AND A HAMMERTOE?

The difference between a bunion and hammertoe is quite simple.  The bunion is the bony prominence at the medial side of the first metatarsal which is the bone behind the big toe. The hammertoe has to do with the lesser digits 2 through 5 and typically is a contracture at the middle knuckle of the toe that causes the toe to arch up.

ARE FOOT PROBLEMS HEREDITARY?

Yes. Some hereditary foot conditions can be a high arched foot, a flatfoot, or a bunion deformity.

WHY DO DIABETICS HAVE FOOT PROBLEMS?

Diabetics typically have foot problems due to loss of sensation secondary to nerve dysfunction or to breakdown of the bones in the midfoot causing what’s known is a rocker-bottom foot. We try to stress to the diabetics that the excess glucose (blood sugar) in their system can affect multiple body systems including the nervous system, the musculoskeletal system, the abdominal organs, as well as the skin.  We urge diabetics to come in at a minimum of twice per year based on the condition of their feet for diabetic foot screenings.

WHAT ARE SOME THINGS DIABETICS SHOULD BE CONCERNED ABOUT WHEN IT COMES TO FOOT CARE?

Diabetics should be concerned about all facets of their feet from the nails, the skin, to the toes, and the structure of their foot. These things can all be compromised due to improper care of diabetic feet. We urge diabetics to check their feet daily and should they see something that looks abnormal, to report to the local podiatrist for evaluation.

WHAT ARE SOME COMMON FOOT PROBLEMS THAT CAN BE CORRECTED WITHOUT SURGERY?

Some common foot problems that can be corrected without surgery are plantar fasciitis, which is inflammation of the ligament underneath the foot.  This can commonly be alleviated with rest, ice therapy, physical therapy, or injection therapy.  Various skin conditions can be corrected such as dermatitis or eczema with topical or oral medications.  Depending on the severity of the bunion and hammertoes, these can also be corrected with devices or modifications in the shoes.

WILL WEARING 4-5 INCH HEELS ON A REGULAR BASIS CAUSE ISSUES WITH YOUR ARCH?

Wearing 4-5 inch heels on a regular basis can cause issues with your arch such as dysfunction of the plantar fascia which is one of the key elements of the arch as well as the supporting tendons around the arch that can be shortened or fatigue due to heel wear.

CAN FOOT ISSUES CAUSE OTHER HEALTH PROBLEMS?

Yes. Foot issues can cause other problems to include arthritis in the ankles, knees, hips, and lower back is not properly treated.  They can also cause pain when walking which will affect the rest of the musculoskeletal system.  There is also a psychological component that some people endure based on the appearance of their foot to include the skin and nails.

ARE THERE ANY HOME REMEDIES TO TREAT BUNIONS OR HAMMERTOE?

I’m sure there are home remedies to treat bunions and hammertoes however, those remedies do not alleviate or provide long-term comfort, so I do not advocate them.  At best, there are over-the-counter things that can be purchased to treat bunions and hammertoes such as toe spacers, toe sleeves, and bunion splints.

WHAT CAUSES INGROWN TOENAILS AND IS THERE A WAY TO PREVENT IT?

Ingrown toenails can be caused by a variety of things, to include nail fungus, trauma to the nail, or improper shoegear such as a shoe that is too small. There are ways to prevent ingrown toenail such as checking your toenails every day.  If you do have a nail fungus it is advised to see her podiatrist for treatments of the nail does not thicken and curve.  It is also advised to wear good-fitting shoes so that the toes are not constricted in the shoe and thus compromising the nail.

WHAT SHOULD WE DO TO PROTECT OUR FEET FROM BUNIONS AND HAMMERTOE?

To protect your feet from bunions and hammertoes, the best thing to do is checking her feet every day and make sure that you are wearing properly fitting shoes and try to stay away from elevated shoes such as heels.

CAN BUNIONS COME BACK AFTER SURGERY?

Yes. Bunions can come back after surgery.  This is commonly due to either the continuation of wearing ill-fitting shoes, or the wrong procedure was performed on that particular bunion. There are 100s of different procedures that can be used to correct a bunion deformity.  This is why it is imperative that the podiatrist take x-rays, look at the foot type in total, and have accurate measurements of the bunion to take the best surgical procedure to provide long-term correction and reduction in the deformity and pain.

IF BUNION SURGERY IS NECESSARY, CAN BOTH FEET BE DONE AT THE SAME TIME?

Yes. If bunion surgery is necessary, both feet can be done at the same time.  However, I do not advocate this simply because I like my patients to have at least one stable foot to be able to transition to the restroom and provide a stable structure so that they can navigate around their home safely.

Dr. Roderick Hunter is a podiatrist based in Kileen, Texas specializing in foot care and corrective procedures. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Texas at Dallas, earning a B.A. in biology with a minor in psychology — and then went on to the New York College of Podiatric Medicine. He has been in practice for six years.

 

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