Prevention is better. Some advice for foot problems.

Of course prevention is better but, what is it that you are trying to prevent? It would be an unrealistic expectation to avoid developing all conditions at all times but, if we are to do our best, we first must know what we are trying to prevent.

Here is some advice on prevention, and list two common foot problems with tips on how to avoid them.

A specialist foot and ankle podiatrist can check your unique foot health and assess your musculoskeletal system. They understand the way we walk (gait) and how normal feet function. They therefore have good knowledge on whether you have early signs or if you may benefit from intervention. Understanding and being able to spot and name specific conditions gives you something to work with. If you are unsure on what you are trying to prevent, you certainly cannot know what the cause is and what will prevent it.

Following this, understanding the evidence on the condition, its causes and available treatments is required. Intervention and treatments should be evidence based, measurable, and ideally work above and beyond placebo. Without evidence and measurable intervention it would be experimental.

The two common conditions, corns and plantar fasciitis which are regularly seen in our clinic. Below is some information on each condition and tips on how to help avoid developing them.

Corns

Podogo

Corns generally develop because of pressure. Sometimes this is due to an unusual foot shape or more often, because of footwear. If you have an unusual foot shape, see a podiatrist. They can look at offloading the high pressured areas with custom orthotics (insoles) and give you suitable footwear advice.

Far more women present with footwear acquired corns in my clinic which seems to be related to prioritising fashion over health. High heels and ballet pumps are frequently seen as common offenders for women, and narrow smart shoes for men. These shoes can be tight in the toe boxes and patients usually present with hard skin and corns to the outside of the little toe. It is also common to see them develop interdigitally and under the balls of your feet.

TIPS:

  • Wear shoes with enough space in the toe boxes. Try to wear a good running shoe as much as possible. This includes travelling to and from work. Running shoes usually offer good space, support and comfort for your feet.
  • Reduce the time you wear narrow or high heeled shoes to as little as possible.
  • See a good podiatrist who can give you individual advice.

Plantar Fasciitis

Podogo

Plantar Fasciitis is a common condition of the band underneath the foot (plantar fascia) that travels from the heel to the balls of your feet. Usually people experience pain in the morning or after long periods of rest, and when they press the heel area closest to the arch.

Overuse and overloading of the band will cause damage to it. A classic patient I see in clinic is overweight and has suddenly increased their activity levels such as starting running to lose weight. The mixture of increasing high impact activity with extra loading from being overweight often proves to be too much for this structure.

TIPS:

  • Keep your weight under control to reduce the loading on your feet.
  • If you are overweight, start light activity of exercise and gradually increase it each week – also consider a sport like swimming which is low impact and easy on the joints.
  • An orthotic can help stabilise the arch of your foot and reduce the load to the plantar fascia.
  • See a good podiatrist who can give you individual advice and provide you with orthotics if required.

 

Steven Thomas – Specialist podiatrist October 2017