1 – Blisters – A common, but avoidable foot problem.
Blisters are caused by friction between two surfaces. This friction can occur with shoes, socks, or other items. When we walk, our feet absorb shock from the ground. If there’s too much pressure on them, blisters form. These painful sores usually occur on the bottom of the foot, between and on top of the toes, or on the heel. They can be caused by wearing shoes that are too tight, walking barefoot, or working in a job where you stand for long periods of time. If you suffer from blisters, you know how painful they can be. And if you’ve ever had to deal with them, you know how frustrating they can be. You might feel like there’s nothing you can do to stop them, but there are things you can do to prevent them.
- If you’re going to spend any significant amount of time walking, wear shoes that fit properly. This will help prevent blisters by providing adequate support and cushioning.
- Keep your feet dry as moisture will increase friction
- Ensure you keep feet clean as well as any dirt can increase friction on the skin.
- Wear good quality socks – these can help reduce friction as well as keeping the skin on your feet dry.
- Keep toenails trimmed as long toenails can create unnecessary pressure if the toes are pushed together.
If you develop blisters, cover them with a sterile dressing. If they are very painful see a Podiatrist who will be able to treat appropriately.
2 – Bunions – ( Hallux Abducto Valgus) A painful bony condition around the base of the big toe.
Bunion pain usually occurs when there is too much pressure on one part of the foot. It can cause inflammation and swelling, as well as discomfort.
Bunion pain is usually caused by wearing shoes that are too tight or ill-fitting. The pressure from the shoe rubbing against the bony prominence at the base of the big toe causes inflammation and irritation. Over time, the soft tissue surrounding the bone becomes inflamed and thickened, causing the joint to swell and a bump forms at the base of the big toe. As the bunion grows larger, it presses against the other toes, causing them to swell and become tender. If left untreated, bunions can cause permanent damage to the joints.
To treat early signs of bunions at home, apply an ice pack to the affected area. You can also soak the feet in Epsom salt water.
Anti-inflammatory medication can help but you must get advice from your GP or Pharmacist before using them.
Orthotic insoles can help to correct the way you are walking as bunions occur due to a problem with the gait.
3 – Hammertoes – When the toe bends downward.
If you’ve ever had hammertoe, you know how painful it can be. Hammertoe is caused by imbalance in the muscles, tendons or ligaments of the toes. The condition makes when the second, third or fourth toes bend downwards, causing pain, difficulty walking and problems getting shoes to fit. It’s most common among women who wear high heels, but men can get them too.
- Wearing sensible, well-fitting shoes may help prevent hammertoe. However, hammertoes can be caused by an array of things:
- poorly fitted shoes and continual high heel wearing
- foot biomechanics
- medical conditions that affect the nerves
- foot injuries
You can treat them yourself using home remedies such as soaking your feet in Epsom salt baths, or anti inflammatorys (see GP or Pharmacist for advice) However, if you notice signs of infection, see a podiatrist immediately.
A podiatrist can also help with treatment and advice on how to manage.
If left untreated, hammertoes can lead to other foot problems such as bunions, corns, calluses, ingrown nails and infections. It can also lead to arthritis in more severe cases.
4 – Ingrown Toenails – An infection of the nail bed.
One of the most common problems affecting the feet is ingrown toenails. This painful condition occurs when a spike of nail grows into the skin, causing pain and discomfort. It usually affects the big toe and if left untreated, they can lead to serious complications such as infection or tissue damage.
Causes include trauma or injury, cutting toenails too short and wearing shoes that are too tight.
As well as the visual symptoms, Itching, burning, redness, swelling, pain, and pus are some of the symptoms of an ingrown toenail. The pain from an ingrown toenail can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks, depending on the severity of the condition. We recommend that you see a podiatrist if these symptoms persist for more than two weeks.
You can treat them yourself using home remedies such as soaking your feet in Epsom salt baths, or wearing open toed shoes until they clear up. However, in some cases a visit to the podiatrist is recommended. They can perform a small surgical procedure under local anaesthetic.
Proper trimming of the toenails can help prevent ingrown toenails. Nails should be cut straight across, rather than follow the curve of the toe and not be cut too short. Level with the end of the toes is a good guideline. You can always get advice fro a podiatrist on nail cutting if this is a recurring problem.
Well-fitting shoes will also help prevent the condition.
4 – Plantar Fasciitis – Painful inflammation of the thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot.
Plantar fasciitis is a painful condition that affects the soft tissues of the heel bone and arch area. The pain usually occurs after long periods of standing or walking. It’s caused by excessive pressure on the plantar fascia (the thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes). Overuse of the muscles and tendons in the foot can lead to tightness and swelling, which causes increased stress on the plantar fascia.
When the plantar fascia becomes inflamed, it can cause severe pain and discomfort. If left untreated, it can lead to chronic pain and arthritis.
Plantar fascia can be caused by wearing shoes that are too tight, lack arch support, or are worn incorrectly.
The NHS suggest these home remedies to ease the condition:
- rest and raise your foot on a stool when you can
- put an ice pack (or bag of frozen peas) in a towel on the painful area for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours
- wear shoes with cushioned heels and good arch support
- use insoles or heel pads in your shoes
- try regular gentle stretching exercises
- try exercises that do not put pressure on your feet, such as swimming
- take painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen
- try to lose weight if you’re overweight
- do not walk or stand for long periods
- do not wear high heels or tight pointy shoes
- do not wear flip-flops or backless slippers
- try not to walk barefoot on hard surfaces
If symptoms don’t clear up, then seek advice from a podiatrist who will be able to help you manage the condition.
Wearing sensible well-fitting shoes to help and orthotic insoles may be needed, and a podiatrist will be able to assess if they are needed.