What is Foot Health Care?
Foot Health Care is a field of Medicine that aims to improve the overall health and wellbeing of patients by focusing on preventing, diagnosing and treating conditions associated with the foot. It is a therapy for all ages.
During your lifetime your feet may walk the equivalent of four times around the world. Healthy feet play a huge role in our quality of life. Regular foot care can help achieve this.
The foot is a highly complex structure which can develop problems affecting a person’s overall health. Common foot disorders cause a great deal of pain and disability.
Common Treatments in the Chiropody Clinic
Corns and callus
Corns and callus are a build up of hard dead skin, often caused by excessive pressure at a specific area of the foot. Corns commonly occur at the top of toes and between the toes. Callus is frequently found on the ball of the foot, the heel and the underside of the big toe.
Ingrown toenails are a common painful condition occurring when a piece of nail penetrates through the skin. This frequently happens in the large toe. The skin becomes inflamed and swollen and often grows over the edge of the nail. This painful condition can sometimes be prevented by cutting the toenail straight across, level with the top of the toe and wearing shoes that fit well.
Fungal and bacterial conditions of the skin occur because our feet spend a lot of time in shoes – a warm dark humid place that is perfect for fungus to grow. Approximately 15% of us will be affected at some time or other during our lives Athletes foot is a fungal skin infection that causes red, dry, flaking skin, sometimes accompanied by pain or itching. It commonly affects the skin of the sole and arch. If it occurs between the toes the skin will appear white and soggy.
Fungal infections of toenails
Fungal infections of toenails often starts in the big or little toe because they are the toes most exposed to friction and irritation caused by footwear. This infection generally begins at the side of the nail moving centrally and down towards the nail bed. The toenail thickens and may turn yellow or brown.
Verruca are slightly raised and circular in shape. Some black dots (capillaries) may be noticeable on the surface. The verruca virus can enter the foot through tiny cracks in the skin. They are spread by contact, either directly from person to person, or indirectly via surface contact.
Deep cracks in the skin are usually caused by excessive dry skin or thick calluses. They are generally found at the perimeter of the heel. When fissures are deep they tend to bleed and become painful, some become infected.
Diabetes can lead to nerve damage in the feet and legs, resulting in loss of sensation. Diabetes can also lead to restricted blood supply to the feet and legs, resulting in cold painful feet. Because of this injuries to the feet may be slow to heal and can quickly become infected. Check your feet regularly or ask someone to do it for you.
Bunions develop when the joints in the big toe no longer fit together as they should and become swollen and tender. This condition if often familial. If a bunion is not severe, pain relief can be achieved by wearing shoes that are wide at the instep and toes. Often a pressure relief pad, silastic toe spacer or orthotic device may be required.
Frequently the second toe is abnormally long and flexed at the middle joint . Pressure from footwear can lead to deep seated painful corns, skin abrasions and ulceration.
Plantar heel pain syndrome / Plantar fasciitis
This is a common condition occurring at any stage of life, but more often in the 40-60 year age group.Itcan be caused by regular high impact activities, an uneven stride, or lack of calf muscle flexibility. It is often described as a burning stabbing ache which is typically worse in the morning or after rest.
Guide to foot care
Our feet work hard and are vital to our health, comfort and balance. Check your feet regularly or ask someone to do it for you.
Wash feet daily in warm soapy water, rinse well and dry with a soft towel. Remember to dry the area between the toes. Trim toe nails regularly by cutting straight across the nail. If skin is dry apply moisturising cream avoiding the area between the toes. An upward massage from your toes to your knees can help improve circulation.
Exercise can help keep your feet healthy by toning muscles, strengthening arches and stimulating circulation. Walking is one of the easiest and best forms of exercise. When sitting, elevate your feet. Do some gentle feet and toe movements to improve circulation and strengthen your muscles.
The best time to buy shoes is in the late afternoon as feet swell and increase in size throughout the day. Also, the shape and size of your feet may change as you get older, therefore it is important to get your feet measured when buying new shoes. Allow a half inch gap between the tip of your toes and the end of the shoe. The widest part of your foot should rest in the widest part of the shoe.
Most of us have one foot that is larger than the other so fit your shoe to the largest foot. Do not buy shoes that feel too tight and expect them to stretch to fit. Your heel should fit comfortably in the shoe. Check that the shoe does not slip up and down on your heel when you walk. Footwear with rubber soles and soft leather uppers are generally considered comfortable and safe.
Foot care for people with diabetes
Diabetes can lead to nerve damage in the feet and legs, resulting in loss of sensation. Diabetes can also lead to restricted blood supply to the feet and legs, resulting in cold painful feet.
Examine your feet regularly or ask someone to do it for you. Damaged feet can lead to infection. Check for cuts, scratches, swellings, inflammation or discolouration. Take time to wash and dry your feet. Always dry between your toes. Use moisturising cream to keep your skin soft and supple. Don’t apply this cream between your toes as it can make this area of skin too moist.
If you have reduced sensation to heat, cold and pain take extra care when using hot water bottles, bathing or sitting near the fire. Do not sit for long periods with your legs crossed. If you are sitting for an extended length of time do gentle stretching exercises for your feet. Trim nails regularly by cutting straight across the nail. Don’t cut or probe down the side of your nails.
Check your shoes before putting them on for small pebbles, rough seams, loose stitching or anything that could irritate your foot. Wear comfortable shoes that fit well.
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