Preventing Foot Problems - Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare

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Preventing Foot Problems

Up to 87% of people have painful feet at some time in their lives.

Each of your feet contains 33 joints, 26 bones and more than 120 muscles, ligaments, tendons and nerves. These work together to support the weight of your body, act as shock absorbers, keep you balanced and push you forward with each stride.

People on average spend 4 hours standing everyday and take around 10,000 steps. Because feet are small compared to your body, they receive an enormous impact with each step, adding up to hundreds of tons of weight everyday. 

As you age, your feet spread and lose the fatty pads that cushion the bottom of your feet and the skin on your feet gets drier and infections can occur more easily. If you’re overweight, the bones and ligaments take an additional beating. Poorly fitting footwear makes foot problems worse and actually can be the cause of many problems. Foot problems can lead to an increased risk for falls and fractures, chronic pain, reduced mobility, ability to carry out daily functions and a lower quality of life. There’s no need to put up with foot pain. Being able to walk easily is extremely important since it’s one of the best ways to exercise and keep fit.

6 Tips to Prevent Foot Problems

To maintain healthy feet, follow the recommendations listed below:

  1. Cut your toenails properly - Trim your toenails straight across, not at the corners or sides. Clippers may be easier to manage than nail scissors.
  2. Be alert to age-related changes - You should inspect your feet regularly, checking for changes in skin color or temperature, thickened or discolored nails and any sign of a break in the skin or abrasion. If this is difficult, have someone else help you.
  3. Pick shoes wisely - Make sure that your shoes fit and that there is wiggle room in the toe box. Try your shoes on while standing and choose shoes that are at least half an inch longer than your longest toes.
  4. Consider orthotics - These insoles are molded from a cast of your foot. They may be rigid, semi-rigid or soft.
  5. Limit or avoid flip flops and high heels – You’ll have a higher risk of developing foot problems later in life by wearing this type of footwear.
  6. Avoid going barefoot

Common Types of Foot Problems

  • Bunions – a bony growth or misaligned bone at the base of the big toe or possibly on the small toe. Eventually, the big toe may bend abnormally toward the small toes.
  • Calluses and Corns – Dead, thickened skin on toes
  • Hammertoes – Toe joints that curl up or under often resulting in a permanently dislocated joint
  • Toenail Problems – Ingrown, thickened or discolored toenails
  • Problems related to Diabetes – Foot ulcers that are difficult to heal, loss of feeling or circulation problems
  • Heel Pain – Pain is present at the back of the arch from heel spurs or plantar fascitis

Risks for Foot Problems as You Age

You’re at a higher risk of developing foot problems due to the following:

  • Frequently wearing poorly fitted, pointy or high-heeled footwear
  • Diabetes
  • Neuropathy in the feet and/or ankles
  • Arthritis
  • Occupations that involve a lot of standing
  • Injuries to the feet, ankles or toes
  • Flat feet or highly arched feet
  • Walking frequently on hard surfaces
  • Overweight

Basic foot care and prompt attention for a problem, will keep your feet healthy and problem free. If you have any foot problem symptoms, contact Dr. Sean Wilson, or find another podiatrist.

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