One of the many things that we may acquire as a result of growing older is foot care problems. When you think of all the years of wearing poorly designed or ill-fitting shoes, natural foot “wear and tear”, poor circulation and improperly trimmed toenails, there is no doubt our feet have noticed the abuse. To prevent problems we need to practice good foot hygiene and if there is a problem, have it treated by a family member or physician. Sometime we may need a specialist for more serious or complicated problems such as a podiatrist or an orthopedic surgeon.
By keeping good circulation and blood flow to the feet, you can help prevent problems. Sitting, standing, pressure from shoes, smoking and extreme cold temperatures are all things that reduce blood flow to the feet. Standing, stretching, walking and other exercise will promote good circulation as well as a foot and leg massage and the inclusion of a warm foot baths. As we age, our feet may get wider, so it is good to have your feet measured so you can wear comfortable fitting shoes. The upper part of the shoes should be made of soft flexible material and the soles should give you solid footing and not be slippery. Thick soles give your feet less pressure on the sole surface, – as does low heeled shoes. They are more comfortable, safer and less damaging than high heels.
Some common foot problems are the result of a fungal or bacterial condition such as athletes’ foot, which occurs from feet being enclosed in a dark, damp environment. These infections can cause redness, blisters, peeling and itching. If foot infections aren’t treated properly, they may become chronic and hard to cure. By keeping your feet and toe area clean & dry plus exposed to air when possible, it will help prevent these conditions. If you are prone to fungal infections, you may want to dust your feet with fungicidal powder.
Watch out for moisturizers which contain petroleum jelly or lanolin (which is found in many brands). The constant pressure or friction, when the bony areas of your feet rub against your shoes have been known to cause corns or calluses.
If you have foot problems, a podiatrist or physician may determine the cause and suggest a treatment. There are many over-the-counter medicines. Some may reduce the need for surgery; however, others may destroy the tissue, but not the treat the cause. If you are diabetic or have poor circulation, self-treatment can be dangerous.
Viruses can cause skin growths and warts, which may be painful or spread if untreated. A doctor may apply medicines, burn, freeze or remove the wart surgically.
Bunions may develop when the big toe joints are out of line, becoming swollen and tender. Poor fitting shoes or inherited weakness with the foot may cause bunions. In severe bunion cases, the shoe may be cut away and protective pads used to cushion the painful area. Bunions can be treated by application or injections of certain drugs, whirlpool baths and sometimes surgery.
Ingrown toenails can be a very painful foot problem and are caused by improper trimming. Usually the large or great toe is the one to get an ingrown nail. A doctor or podiatrist will cut away the part of the nail causing the problem. They suggest you cut the nail straight across the top of the toe.
A hammertoe is caused by tendons that control toe movement which are shortened. it causes the toe knuckle to enlarge and stiffen as it rubs against the shoes. This may affect your balance. Treatment is to wear shoes and socks with plenty of toe room. In more advanced cases you may need surgery.
Bone spurs are a calcium growth that develops on the bones of the feet. They are caused from muscle strain, standing long periods of time, wearing bad fitting shoes or by being over-weight. At times they may be painless, but other times the pain may be severe. Physician or Podiatrist prescribed foot support, heel pads or cups may be necessary, thought you may want to try an over-the-counter support first.
Maplewood partners with Aggeus Healthcare and has a podiatrist come in to assist residents with foot care needs.