Whether you are diabetic or not, you should be checking your feet to ensure that things are looking and feeling fine. Carry out these simple self-examination steps. If there are concerns about any of the areas listed below, check your doctor or podiatrist.
Always examine your:
- Skin – Check your skin for calluses, blisters or areas of irritation. Now stand next to your shoes. Are they shaped like your feet, or are they causing areas of constriction that may result in calluses, blisters or irritation? Now put your hand inside your shoe. Are there seams, tacks, or rough places in the shoe that correspond to the areas of irritation, calluses or blisters on your feet?
- Circulation – Look at the colour of your toes. Are they red, pink, purple or blue? Press down on the nail of your big toe until the colour blanches. Now let go and allow the blood flow to return to your toe. The return of normal colour should take 3-4 seconds in a person with average circulation.
- Flexibility – How flexible are your toes? Try to pick up a marble (excellent), or a small dishtowel (good). To test your ankle flexibility, hang your heel over the edge of a stair, while standing on the stair, facing the stairway. Now let the heel go below the level of the stair. If this causes pain, stop the test. If your heel goes below the level of the stair without causing strain in your calf, that is excellent. If there is some strain, this can be improved with flexibility exercises. Don’t attempt such if you are quite elderly, or have stability issues.
- Sensation – Take a piece of cotton and lightly run it on the top, bottom, and both sides of your feet. The sensation should feel equal in all quadrants. It may tickle on the bottom of the feet. That is normal.
- Pain – There should be no pain in the average foot.
- Balance – A good test for balance involves standing on one foot, with your arms out to the side, and your eyes closed. If you are less than 30 years old, you should be able to balance for 15 seconds; 30-40 years old, for 12 seconds; 40-50 years old, for 10 seconds; and over 50 years, 7 seconds. This can be improved with exercise. Don’t attempt such if you are quite elderly or aware you have stability issues.
While you aren’t a professional in this area, these tests can assist in identifying whether or not there are problems. If there are, seek a consultation with your doctor or podiatrist to look into possible treatment of your problem(s). Early detection is always the best way, as the initial stages tend to equal better results in treating issues.
Normal vs. Abnormal Feet
The average person takes approximately 10,000 steps per day, which can add up to more than 3 million steps per year. Each step can place two to three times the force of your body weight on your feet. With time, this extensive repetitive use, leads to several normal changes associated with aging:
- The foot becomes wider and longer.
- There is mild settling of the arch, which is seen as flattening of the foot.
- The fat pad on the bottom of the heel thins out, causing loss of natural padding (shock absorbency), and spring in the step.
- The foot and ankle lose some of their normal range of motion, and become stiffer.
- There can be some loss of balance while walking.
Some foot changes that occur are abnormal or pathological. These tend to occur in association with prolonged use of ill-fitting shoes, and their incidences peak in the fourth, fifth and sixth decades. These problems do not occur naturally, and many can be prevented or their progress halted, by modifying the shoes that are worn. These problems include:
- Bunions (the formation of a large bump on the big toe, which starts to point toward the little toes).
- Hammering of the toes (curling of the toes).
- Clawing of the toes (more severe curling of the toes).
- Bunionettes (the formation of a large bump on the smallest toe, which starts to point toward the large toe).
- Calluses or corns, which occur on the toes or foot, due to high pressure over bony areas.
- Morton’s neuromas (“pinched nerve” between the toes, mainly the 3rd and 4th).
- Arthritis of the joints.
And now for some good news; I wish to advise that our Clinic celebrated its 12th Anniversary on December 1. In commemoration of this milestone, we have upgraded our website, to include the new Podiatric Services that are now being offered. Do visit the site, and feel free to check us for any issues that have been identified above, that we can assist you with. On behalf of Almawi, I wish to record our sincere appreciation to you our loyal readers, and all others for your patronage over the years. May God richly bless you!
Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!