The feet's important function is to act as shock absorbers whilst walking and running. With the flat foot disorder, the schock-absorbing mechanism is impaired, and may cause not only pain in the foot, but also in the ankles, knees, hips, back, and even headaches.
Caring for your feet is essential to your well-being. Small problems with your feet can be fixed efficiently and quickly by your podiatrist. In the mean time, here is information about common foot disorders, their symptoms, causes, and how your podiatrist cures them.
These form when the big toe's bone begins shifting towards the little toe, and turns inwards, breaking the alignment of the inner foot.
The cause of this disorder is excess strain and twist imposed on the ball of the foot while walking with flat feet.
Bunions can cause pain in the big toe and in the ball of the foot.
The only way to cure this unnatural joint position is to prescribe orthotics. Prevention simply involves wearing appropriate footwear and especially avoiding high-heel shoes - attention, Ladies!
Callous is a patch of abnormally hard and thick skin, usually on the hands or feet. It forms as a natural reaction to repetitive friction and pressure, producing this hard protective surface. But when it forms in bulk and excessively thick quantities, callous may cause pain when pressure is applied.
Callous will only begin malforming if the feet undergo unusual pressure from flat-foot or high arches, or from badly fitting footwear.
Your podiatrist will therefore treat this disorder by correcting the position of the feet with prescribed orthotics or healthier footwear, in order to cancel the abnormal walking movement.
Your podiatrist will also remove the callous by gently and painlessly paring the hard skin away with a scalpel, until the skin returns to a normal and comfortable thickness.
Heel Spurs and Arch Pain
These manifest themselves first-thing in the morning and generally straight after rest, as soon as weight is applied to the foot once again. This sharp pain occurs in the front of the heel, and may radiate out to the edges of the heel, and even into the arch.
The primary cause of this disorder is 'planta fasciitis', where excess strain on the tendon called 'plantar fascia' is caused by flat foot or 'excessive pronation'.
This strain results in inflammation of plantar fascia and acute pain in the back fo the foot. These symptoms may be temporarily releived by anti-inflammatories, but consulting a podiatrist is essential to treat the problem.
Your podiatrist will cure and/or prevent this common joint problem by prescribing a type of insoles called 'orthotics'. Orthotics provide support for the foot at all times and re-align and re-balance the joints of the foot into a natural position.
Ingrowing toenails happen when a sharp nail, often the big toe nail, grows incorrectly and cuts into the skin. As the nail grows and penetrates deeper into the flesh, an inflammation often occurs, and eventually becomes infected. The skin then appears very red, swollen and tender to the slightest pressure.
Ingrown toenails are often caused by ill-fitting footwear, a poor nail-cutting technique, and keeping the feet in wet conditions for too long .
Shoes that are too narrow (or too shallow) force the sides of the nail to fold and grow into the toe. Flat-feet (rolling in of the foot) increases the pressure on the toe when walking, so that the nail pushes into the flesh of the toe.
Incorrect nail cutting techniques such as nails cut too short allow the nail to embed itself into the protruding soft tissues. Nails cut obliquely around the corners of the nail encourage the nail to embed itself into the grooves on the sides of the nail.
If the ingrown toenail is not infected, your podiatrist will remove the part of the nail that is ingrowing with fine nippers. The edge of the nail will then be carefully smoothed with a special file, and the cut flesh will be disinfected and thoroughly dried.
From then on, your podiatrist will demonstrate a proper nail cutting technique, and suggest the use of properly fitting footwear.
Ingrown Toenail Surgery
Nail surgery may be necessary if in the long term the nail keeps ingrowing, despite conservative treatment. Surgery will consist of painlessly cutting the nail away partially or completely with a local anaesthetic. The offending part of the nail will be carefully cut off, so that the rest of the nail's surface is flat.
Your podiatrist will then use a chemical solution to kill the part of the nail bed where the ingrowing edge was growing from, so that the nail will not re-grow from there again. The cavity will then be packed and covered with an antiseptic dressing. You will now be free to walk out pain-free, relieved, and with a new-found comfort in your feet!
Three to four days after the surgery your podiatrist will need
to see you again to renew the dressing and check the healing progress. Although
it will probably be much more comfortable to walk soon after the surgery compared
to before, it is necessary to rest the foot as much as possible.
A sharp pain in the knee or outside the knee usually occurs during or after excercise. Flat-feet can cause the turning of the knees and improper movement of the knee cap. This causes inflammation and pain.
Knee pain can be cured by correcting the movement of the knee cap. Your podiatrist will do this by supporting the feet with orthotics into a normal, aligned position, and the re-alignment of upper joints in the leg and pelvis will subsequently follow.
Another alternative, depending on the extent of the misalignment, is to wear a knee strap. Consult your podiatrist about the treatment relevant to your specific condition.
The pain itself can be relieved with anti-inflammatories, but the disorder must be treated by a podiatrist to avoid further damage to the knee joints.