Thursday, 26 December 2013

Common Jogger’s Foot Problems

Running is amongst the best and most simple forms of exercise. All that is really needed is a good pair of shoes and a place to jog. Running is good for the heart, toughens the entire body and relaxes the mind. But it does place extra stress and burden on your feet. Over time, this can cause damage and affect the utility and functioning of the feet. Joggers are prone to foot problems and injuries. Most of them are minor and can be treated at home. But if they are ignored, or the wrong treatment used, then the condition can become aggravated and serious.

Sprains

Sprained ankles are amongst the most common of jogger’s injuries, especially among those who run on rough ground and cross country trails. What happens is that while jogging on an uneven surface the ankle may be forced to turn in a direction that is opposite to the foot or beyond its normal movement range. When that happens, the ligaments that provide support to the ankle joint can get torn. There are three ligaments involved but in most cases a fractional tearing of only two is involved.  A serious sprain can involve a complete rupture of all three ligaments. For minor sprains wrapping the ankle in bandages and wearing shoes that provide lower leg support is usually all that is required. But if the ligament damage is more serious then specialized treatment and rehabilitation may be required.

Tendonitis

A tendon is a strand of strong tissue that connects muscle to bone so as to allow the skeleton to move freely. When the tendon running down the back of the leg is stressed beyond the normal, a condition called Achilles Tendonitis or painful Achilles Heel results. This causes a sharp pain to be felt somewhere between the heel and the lower calf. The pain will usually increase the more the leg is used and reduce as the leg is rested. Treatment typically consists of a regimen of ice combined with rest and minimal walking on hard surfaces and up hills. Recovery usually takes a few weeks.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis is the technical term for a loss of flexibility in the arch of the foot. The common symptoms of this are (a) intense pain on the sole of the foot when standing up after an extended period of sitting or lying down and (b) a strong painful sensation of something pulling or tearing in the sole of the foot while walking. While there are many causes for this condition, regular running on stony surfaces and uneven ground is a common one. Application of ice and rest will help to cure a minor case but if the pain persists, a podiatrist should be consulted.

Flat Feet

Flat feet, or fallen arches as the condition is also called, occurs when the tissue supporting the curve of the arch of the foot becomes elongated because of improper distribution of body weight. This can be caused by genetics or a style of jogging that places excess stress on the feet.  The condition results in soreness of the lower foot and lower back pain. While arch supports may provide immediate relief, a podiatrist should be consulted for proper long term relief and treatment.

Apophycitis of the Heel

Before adulthood the human heel has two bones that fuse into one at puberty. Excessive running by adolescent runners can result in the bones becoming or remaining disjointed. The result is usually pain and soreness of the foot, particularly in the heel area. Immediate relief may be possible by using heel pads, but only specialized treatment by a podiatrist can offer a long term cure.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Shoe Buying Basics

Sore and aching feet are amongst the most common of minor physical complaints the world over. In fact they are so common that often people get so used to the pain and discomfort that they ignore or don’t notice it. And if the discomfort is bad, a good soak or foot rub will usually ease the pain. But ignoring foot pain is not safe. The pain is a sign that something is wrong and what is happening could affect the health of your feet, ankles, knees, back and spine. The result of any of these problems can be far reaching and affect the way you live and the quality of your life. Looking after your feet is an important but often ignored aspect of overall healthcare.

It Starts With the Shoes

The starting point of good foot health is wearing the right shoes. Buying a new pair of shoes is not a simple matter of going to a shoe store, find a pair you like, trying it on and, if it seems to be okay, buying it.  There is a science to good shoe design and knowing what makes a good shoe can help you make the right shoe buying choices. Here are the things to look for:
·    Unless asked to by a foot doctor, do not wear shoes that provide ankle support (like basketball shoes) as this may cause the ankle to become weak.
·    Avoid shoes that are very narrow in the middle of the outsole. If the print the shoe makes is similar to a footprint, it will not provide stability when walking.
·    Try to bend the front of the shoe upwards. Only the front 1/3rd of the shoe should bend. The rear2/3rd should be stiff and hard to bend. Since your foot does not bend in the middle, neither should your shoe.
·    Hold the front of the shoe in one and the rear in the other. Try and twist the shoe. A good shoe should not distort or become deformed easily.
·     Press against the back spine of the shoe (also called the counter). Squeeze the sides of the counter at the same time with the other hand. The counter supports the heel and should not lose its shape easily.
·    Remove the insole from the shoe and compare it to your foot. The insole should be about one thumbnail width longer than your foot.
·    Some people have a marginal difference in the size of their feet. If this is the case with you, buy a pair of shoes that is right for the larger foot.
·    Pick a shoe with material that breaths or which has perforations. This will allow the feet to remain dry.
·     When trying out the shoes avoid any design or size that allows the foot to roll outwards or permits the heel to lift in the shoe. While some materials like leather will stretch with use, a new shoe should never be so tight as to be uncomfortable.
·    Walk on a vinyl or linoleum surface in or in front of the shoe store to see if the shoes squeak or slip. A good pair of shoes should not slip and should be quiet.
The above guidelines are meant to help you buy shoes that are good for your feet. That does not mean that such shoes need to be expensive or ugly. There are lots of good shoes that are both good to your feet and also look nice.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Why Go To A Podiatric Physician?

Todays, medicine is very specialized. There are medical practitioners with expert knowledge of the problems and treatments for each part of the body. We go to opticians for our eyes, skin specialist for skin problems, cardiologists for heart conditions and so on. The feet are no different and deserve the same care and specialized treatment. For most of us our feet are far from our thoughts are we tend to take them for granted. We expect them to be sore after a long day. We accept the occasional small injury and pain as a part of life. Our feet are extremely tough and able to deal with carrying the weight of our bodies, day after day. But they are also highly engineered and very complex and if problems that do occur are not nipped in the bud, they can let us down, affect our mobility and alter the way we live our lives. The feet are also often the place where early signs of other medical conditions that affect other parts of the body first show up. Caring for the feet is important for our overall good health.

That’s why visiting a podiatric physician, often referred to as a podiatrist, regularly, is so important.

What Is a Podiatrist?

A podiatrist is a highly trained specialist and a qualified Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM). A podiatrist treats medical conditions and problems affecting the feet, ankles and the related parts of the legs. They know that the feet often are the first place that symptoms of other medical conditions appear and in such cases can refer the patient to another specialist to deal with problems affecting other parts of the body. Regular checkups of the feet are important not only for the feet but also for the rest of the body.

The Qualifications Of A Podiatrist

A podiatrist is a qualified medical practitioner. He or she will have completed 4 years of training in podiatric medicine and then 3 years of residency in a hospital. This is similar to the training that other medical specialists receive. Many then go on to spend more time increasing their areas of specialization. These can include such things as sports medicine, wound treatment, pediatric podiatry, diabetic care and surgery.

Podiatric Certification

As with all medical practitioners, podiatrists must undergo advanced training and obtain extensive clinical experience and pass a tough examination in order to be certified. This certification is conducted by the American Board of Podiatric Medicine or the American Board of Podiatric Surgery.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

Having regular pedicures and keeping the feet looking nice and clean is a good thing. But that does not constitute foot care. The human foot has 26 bones, 19 muscles and tendons, 33 joints and 107 ligaments. The bones in the feet constitute almost 25% of all the bones in the body. It is this complexity that gives them their strength and toughness but it also means that there is a lot that can go wrong. Only a podiatrist can assess the condition of the feet, diagnose problems and provide the treatment that will enable the feet to stay as healthy, strong and mobile as possible.

Friday, 15 November 2013

A Daily Foot Care Routine

We brush our teeth a few times each day, wash our hands and our faces many times; but when it comes to our feet the cleaning they get in the bath or shower is enough. Perhaps it’s because our feet as usually encased in shoes and are not seen or because reaching them to examine and clean them is an effort. Whatever the reason, feet rarely get the care and attention they deserve. Feet are tough and can withstand a lot of use and abuse, but without proper care, sooner or later they will develop problems that can affect a person’s mobility and the quality of life. Taking care of the feet is a simple process and a daily care routine will enable them to continue to function in a healthy manner. Here are 5 simple things that constitute a daily foot care routine.

Dry The Feet Thoroughly

The space between the toes is often not completely dried after bathing. The dampness that remains is an ideal breeding ground for fungal infections such as Athlete’s Foot and discolored nails. Pulling a towel through the spaces between the toes a couple of time and allowing the skin to dry for a few minutes in the open before putting on socks and shoes will reduce the chances of such infections. Also change the towel used to dry the feet regularly. The use of a foot powder to absorb sweat is a useful addition to the routine.

Exfoliate

The weight they carry and the friction with socks and shoes as we walk causes the skin on the soles of the feet to become rough and hard. Use a pumice stone or a special exfoliating file to rub away the dead skin. The rubbing should use a smooth even motion that covers the whole of the sole of the foot. Excess pressure should not be used – the idea is to rub off only the hard rough skin. The joint and bony areas on the sides of the feet should not be ignored – but rub these areas gently. If there are stubborn hard patches that remain even after some days of exfoliation, a hard skin remover, available at most drug stores can be used.

Moisturize

Drying the feet thoroughly and exfoliation can leave the skin on the feet dry and tender. Using a moisturizing cream or lotion will keep the skin soft an supple and over time, reduce the amount of exfoliation that needs to be done. It is better to use a deep penetrating moisturizer because the skin on the feet is thicker than that on the rest of the body. Moisturizing formulations specially created for the feet are easily available.

Fresh Socks Or Stockings

Socks, stocking and tights should be changed every day, and, if possible, more often in hot humid conditions where the feet sweat more. Natural fibers such as cotton are the best option because the absorb sweat and allow the feet to breathe better that artificial fibers.

Rotate Shoes

Do not wear the same pair of shoes every day. Giving shoes a day to breathe and dry out before being worn again will protect your feet for the damage that this dampness could cause. It will also help to ensure that there is no odor from the shoes. In case an odor problem does develop, special shoe odor removing powders are available.

These simple steps should help to keep your feet healthy, clean and fresh. If, in spite of this problems do develop, it is advisable to visit a podiatrist for an examination.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Feet Problems with the Elderly

Foot pain and other disorders are common among the elderly. But this does not mean that they have to accept the discomfort or live with an inability to continue with their normal lives. Old age does not mean pain and unsteadiness of the feet leading to an increased danger of falling down. Foot problems are not limited to the elderly. Research shows that up to 87% of the population of this country has experienced foot pain at some stage of their lives. But the volume and types of problems do increase with age and one third of the people over age of 65 suffer from foot conditions.

The Causes of Foot Problems in the Elderly

There are three main reasons for foot problems in the elderly. The first is wearing of ill-fitting shoes, especially at a younger age. This can cause damage to the feet that only becomes apparent after years have passed. The second is medical conditions. Problems such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, knee, hip or back pain all affect the feet and can cause a variety of foot conditions to appear. The third cause is simple wear and tear over time. Each foot contains 26 bones, 33 joints and over 120 nerves, ligaments and muscles which all work together to enable easy foot movement. An average person spends about 4 hours a day on his or her feet and takes about 10,000 steps. The small feet have to bear the weight of the body through all this. In time the natural cushioning of the feet under the heel and ball is worn away. The arches lose their flexibility and the feet and ankle joints become stiffer. The years of carrying weight also cause the foot to get wider and longer.

All these contribute to a myriad of foot pain issues and other medical conditions affecting the feet. Foot care, exercise and maintaining overall good health can reduce the impact of age on the feet, but the wear and tear that they suffer can never be totally negated.

The Main Foot Problems in the Elderly

The most common foot problems faced by the elderly include:
Ø  Calluses and Corns – the development of dead, thick painful skin on the feet
Ø  Bunions – a bony growth at the base of the big toe (and possibly other toes) that over time causes misalignment of the toe
Ø  Heel pain – a pain that is present from the rear of the arch to the heel of the foot
Ø  Plantar Fasciitis – A painful inflamed ligament along the sole of the foot
Ø  Hammertoes – toes joints that curl unnaturally leading to dislocation over time
Ø  Arthritis – this can cause a range of pain and discomfort symptoms in the feet
Ø  Diabetes – this can cause circulation problems, loss of feeling and ulcers that are very slow to heal.
Ø  Arch pain – caused by fallen arches (flat feet) or unusually high arches
Ø  Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome – a pain caused by pinched nerves
Ø  Morton’s Neuroma – a benign growth the develops between the third and fourth toes
Ø  Achilles tendon – inflammation and pain in the tendon at the rear of the foot that connects to the calf muscle.

The feet, like the rest of the body, will weaken with age. And misuse and lack of proper foot care when young will exacerbate the problems in old age. But common sense foot care, proper hygiene, the use of well-fitting shoes and regular visits to the foot specialist will all help to reduce the impact and allow for fewer and perhaps even no foot problems in old age.