The importance of the feet, in human body, cannot be over emphasised. This is so because, of all the structures in your body, your feet are the most vital in your being able to move around, and carries all your body weight.
They’re the workhorses of our bodies, but we give them so little respect. It’s easy to take our feet for granted. They’re just there, putting up with a host of challenges, from being jammed into high heels and elevated to unnatural heights to smothering inside sweaty socks or tight nylon pantyhose.
While suffering those indignities, our feet take hundreds of tons of force impact just during an average day of walking. That pounding explains why feet are the body part most likely to get injured.
You don’t need an expensive spa treatment to take care of your feet. Spending just a few minutes a day on foot care and choosing the right shoes can keep you free of problems that may lead to pain and even disability.
These ideas can help your feet feel great
• Make a point to wash your feet (and between your toes!) with a washcloth carefully and regularly. Yes, that means bending over in the shower to soap them up; if you can’t balance safely, use a long-handled shower brush or sit on a chair outside the tub as you wash your feet under the faucets. Be sure to dry feet completely, including between the toes. This wash-and-dry system lessens problems such as athlete’s foot, odor, bacteria and fungus.
If you like to soak your feet, forget the Epsom salts—they’re too drying and don’t offer any medical benefit. Instead, just use warm (never hot) water and a little liquid soap, such as dishwashing solution, containing skin softeners.
• Moisturize your feet after washing. During dry-skin winter months, you may want to moisturize several times a day. Nothing fancy is needed: basic lotions and creams are fine.
• Alternate the shoes you wear each day. That may mean having two pairs of your favorite everyday style, but shoes need time to air out to avoid triggering foot odor or infections. Change socks or stockings more than once a day. If you have a problem with smelly feet, soak them in a mixture of vinegar and water. Your feet should not hurt—ever. Tight shoes can worsen bunions, distort toe shape and cause painful foot growths. If you wear high heels, choose heels that are wide, stable and no higher than two inches. Toe boxes should be wide; pointed toes shouldn’t begin their narrowing shape until well past the ball of the foot. To protect your Achilles tendon from shortening, alternate heel heights regularly.
Flip-flops and completely flat shoes don’t provide arch support. Neither does walking barefoot. Women are especially prone to developing flat feet, which can lead to other foot problems. To keep feet strong and healthy, minimize the amount of time you wear shoes that lack supportive arches.
• Pregnancy, aging and diabetes all affect your feet. Pregnant women need shoes with broad heels, arch support and good shock absorbency. Added pregnancy weight may cause your shoe size to change, so get your feet measured. Older women lose some of the cushioning fat on the balls of their feet; choose shoes that provide more shock protection. Diabetics can develop serious conditions related to the feet and lower legs. Check feet for any problems daily and see a podiatric physician at least annually.
Be cautious about having a pedicure in a salon, where cleanliness of tubs and instruments is vital. If you have diabetes, talk with your doctor before having a pedicure.
The key points to note include
• Check your feet every day. …
• Wash your feet every day. …
• Keep the skin soft and smooth. …
• Smooth corns and calluses gently. …
• If you can see, reach, and feel your feet, trim your toenails regularly. …
• Wear shoes and socks at all times. …
• Protect your feet from hot and cold. …
• Keep the blood flowing to your feet.
Your foot is an intricate network of bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles. Strong enough to bear your body weight, your foot can be prone to injury and pain. Foot pain can affect any part of your foot, from your toes to your Achilles tendon at the back of your heel. Although mild foot pain often responds well to home treatments, it can take time to resolve. Your doctor should evaluate severe foot pain, especially if it follows an injury.
Injury, overuse or conditions causing inflammation involving any of the bones, ligaments or tendons in the foot can cause foot pain. Arthritis is a common cause of foot pain. Injury to the nerves of the feet may result in intense burning pain, numbness or tingling .
These may include
Embedded objects, Oedema, Broken toe, badly fitted shoes, High Heels, Bunions, Diabetes Neuropathy, Gout, Osteoarthritis, in grown toe nails, tumour etc. Sprains and strains
• Sprains and strains – are very common injuries that affect muscles and ligaments (strong bands of tissue around joints that connect one bone to another). They often occur if you change direction or speed suddenly, fall and land awkwardly, or collide with an object or person, such as when playing sports.
A sprain means one or more of your ligaments have stretched, twisted or torn. A strain means muscle fibres have stretched or torn. As well as pain, a sprain or strain can cause swelling, bruising and tenderness, and may result in you being unable to put weight on your foot.
Most sprains and strains can be managed at home using PRICE therapy (protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation) and painkillers.
Gout is a type of arthritis caused by a build-up of uric acid (a waste product) in your joints. It causes sudden bouts of severe pain, redness, swelling and warmth in affected joints, even when you’re resting.
These attacks usually last a few days at a time and most often affect the big toe joint. It can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between gout and a severely inflamed bunion .
The pain caused by gout can usually be treated using ice packs and by taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) painkillers. You may also need additional treatment to prevent further episodes.
• Blisters, corns and calluses-
Poorly-fitting shoes that rub on the feet can damage the skin and may cause:
blisters – small pockets of fluid that form in the upper layers of the skin
corns – small circles of thick skin
calluses – hard, rough areas of skin that are often yellowish in colour
These conditions can all result in pain and discomfort when you walk. Most blisters heal naturally in a few days and don’t require medical attention. Wearing comfortable, well-fitting shoes can help stop them returning. Read more about treating blisters and preventing blisters.
Corns and calluses don’t necessarily improve on their own and you may need to see a podiatrist or chiropodist, who can advise you about appropriate treatment.
A bunion is a bony swelling at the base of the big toe that can be painful when wearing shoes and make walking difficult. Bunions are a common foot problem, particularly in women. The big toe points towards the other toes and the big toe joint sticks out, forming a bony lump.
Bunions can get worse if they’re left untreated, so it’s best to see a GP for advice. Non-surgical treatments are usually tried first, including wearing comfortable and wide shoes, orthotics (insoles), painkillers and bunion pads. Corrective surgery may sometimes be necessary.
• Ingrowing toenails-
Ingrowing toenails occur when the sides of the toenail grow into the surrounding skin.
The toenail pierces the skin, which can become red, swollen and tender. It can also be painful if pressure is placed on the toe or the toe becomes infected. Cutting your toenails straight across and gently pushing the skin away from the nail using a cotton bud may help improve an ingrowing toenail. In some cases, a procedure to remove part or all of the affected nail may be necessary.
Seek medical help urgently if
• Have severe pain or swelling
• Have an open wound or a wound that is oozing pus
• Have signs of infection, such as redness, warmth and tenderness in the affected area or you have a fever over 100 F (37.8 C)
• Are unable to walk or put weight on your foot
• Have diabetes and have any wound that isn’t healing or is deep, red, swollen or warm to the touch
• Have persistent swelling that doesn’t improve at all after two to five days of home treatment
• Have persistent pain that doesn’t improve after several weeks
• Have burning pain, numbness or tingling, particularly involving most or all of the bottom of your foot.
If your foot pain is due to an injury or overuse, it will often respond well to rest and cold therapy. Avoid activities that can worsen your foot pain, and put ice on your foot for 15 to 20 minutes several times a day. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications will also help with pain and may help with healing.
Even with the best of care, you may have some foot stiffness or pain, particularly first thing in the morning or after you’ve been active, for several weeks. If you are unsure of the cause of your foot pain, or if it is widespread or involving both feet, and particularly if you have diabetes, see your doctor before trying home remedies.