Many people take for granted being able to walk pain-free, and don’t realize how problematic foot pain can be on a day-to-day basis until they experience it for themselves.
Nearly 75 percent of Americans will have some type of foot-health problem in their lifetime. An average day of walking brings a force equal to 700 tons to your feet. So a specialized foot and ankle physician, officially known as a podiatrist, should see any significant foot ailment you experience.
Some common health issues with feet include:
1. Arthritis is a painful joint condition, and the feet are common hosts. The most common symptoms are pain, stiffness and swelling.
2. Bunions are abnormal, bony bumps that form on the joint at the base of your big toe. They form when your big toe pushes against your other toes and forces your big toe joint away from the normal profile of your foot. The most common cause of a bunion is wearing shoes that fit too tightly.
3. Diabetic wounds are caused by nerve damage and poor circulation due to diabetes. These complications make the feet vulnerable to skin ulcers. Managing your diabetes and properly caring for your feet can help prevent these wounds.
4. Hammer toe is an abnormal bend in the middle joint of a toe. It most often occurs in women who wear high heels or shoes with a narrow toe box.
These shoes force your toes to the front of the shoe and cause an unnatural bending.
5. Ingrown toenails occur when the corner of your toenail grows into the flesh of that toe. They cause pain, redness, swelling and, occasionally, an infection.
6. Plantar fasciitis is pain and inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that stretches across the bottom of your feet and connects your heel bone to your toes.
Plantar fasciitis causes a stabbing pain in the heel of your foot, most often during the first few steps after awakening or after long periods of standing.
Many problems that a podiatrist sees are treatable with simple, easy-to-do solutions, such as:
• Shoe gear/orthotics
Physical therapy can also be useful in alleviating a lot of the pain and swelling, as well as helping to stabilize and retrain the foot and ankle for proper walking.
However, there are times when a foot problem may require surgery.
The types of procedures performed are often intended to re-establish proper alignment throughout the foot and/or ankle, to reinforce and repair damaged tissue and to alleviate pain.
Depending on the problem and the type of procedure performed, patients can expect a short period of time off of work when they’ll be resting, icing and elevating.
If you have concerns about the health of your feet, contact your health care provider team.
Luke Madsen, D.P.M., is a Mayo Clinic Health System podiatrist. He will give a free Speaking of Health presentation on healthy feet that is open to the public in the lower level conference center of the hospital at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato on Wednesday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m.
For more information, please go to www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org.
Health & Fitness coverage is supported by Mayo Clinic Health System, preserving the health and well-being of southern Minnesota communities.