05 Jan Podiatrist Reveals the Most Common Foot Problem Questions
We rely on our feet to take us where we want to go. Hence, they deserve the best care that they can get.
Below are some of the most common questions I get asked by patients about their foot issues.
I hope this information may help you with whatever foot problem you are experiencing with your feet right now.
If you need any further information about foot pain or other foot problems, explore the “Foot Problems” section of this website.
Q: What Causes Foot Pain?
A: The foot is a very complex structure and therefore can become sore for a variety of reasons. Common causes of foot pain include sports injuries, poorly fitted shoes, health problems and trauma. They can be a combination of many predisposing factors or an effect of a single cause. The day to day stresses on the foot can be aggravated by various environments and conditions such as in workplaces and in sports. Poor biochemical alignment, ill-fitted, or inappropriate footwear can also lead to foot discomfort.
Q: When is the Best Time to Seek Medical Help for Foot Pain?
A: Sometimes, we have the tendency to self-medicate and hope that symptoms such as foot pain will just go away after a while. However, if the pain stops you from doing your normal daily routine or exercise then this is an indicator that medical intervention is required. Among the symptoms that should prompt you to visit your doctor or Podiatrist are:
- Deformity in some areas
- Pain and Swelling
- Sensation changes
- Changes to gait, Limping, Loss of function
- Toenail color changes
- Change of skin color
- Affected areas are tender and warm to touch
Q: What do orthotics do?
A: Orthotics are devices placed into your shoes to control biomechanical insufficiencies, support abnormal joints, reduce muscle fatigue/stress, support weakened areas of the lower limb, improve postural alignment and aid in injury recovery and prevention. One example of this is custom made orthotic devices moulded to provide support to the arch of the foot, improving knee alignment and reducing pain when running. This technique has been proven medically to resolve issues of the foot, ankle, knee, leg, hip and back discomfort or pain. Studies show that pressures applied on the foot will not only affect the lower limbs but the entire skeletal system as a whole.
Q: How can we avoid ingrown toenails?
A: Cut your toenails straight across and do not cut the corners too short. Cutting down the sides of nails can leave a small sharp edge or ‘spike’ which grows into the skin as the nail grows longer. Filing edges can help to reduce this, however, do not file too short. Before trimming toenails, make sure that you clean them as well as the areas around them. This will prevent infection and spread of fungus if there is any. Tight shoes can cause ingrown toenails too. It causes toenails to grow towards the skin instead of growing to the right direction. Hence, make sure that you always wear the right size of shoes.
Q: What are toenail fungus and how are they treated?
A: Fungus is an organism that loves to dwell in warm, humid and dark places. Hence, your feet is very susceptible to its growth, especially between toe the toes and around/under toenails. If you have contracted a fungal nail infection, your toenails can appear thick and discoloured with crumbling edges. There may also be a build up of ‘debris’ under the nails. Those who are prone to athletes’ foot (tinea), as well as the elderly, are most susceptible to develop fungal toenail infections. Usually, your Podiatrist or doctor will suggest a variety of different anti-fungal treatments, along with cutting back and aggressive filing of the affected nails.
Q: What is the best type of running shoe?
A: There is no simple answer to this question. It depends on your activities, your foot posture and the alignment of your lower limb, the shape of your foot, your body weight and any past or current injuries you may have. The best way to choose an appropriate running shoe and get value for money is to, first of all, find out what foot type you have and how your foot moves during both walking and running gait. This is important as you may have a stable foot when walking which then becomes very unstable as you increase your pace. Either has a foot assessment with a Podiatrist or go to a specialist footwear store that has staff professionally trained to determine the most appropriate shoe. If you plan on running in the shoes, make sure you are assessed at this pace. Any good running shoe store will have a treadmill in store to do this.
Q: How often should I see a Podiatrist for general foot care?
A: This really depends on the individual, their podiatric concerns and how quickly they develop. On average I see most patients on a 6-8 weekly basis for general nail and skin care. For some, this is every 4 weeks due to quickly growing nails and callous or corns which develop in a short period of time. For others, I may only see them once or twice a year for a ‘clean up’ which allows them to care for their feet at home in between.