Foot care is important through all stages of life. For children, it is necessary to take extra care with foot health to avoid problems and deformities in later life. As well, as we get older, everyday wear and tear can take its toll. Podiatrists are experts in all aspects of the foot and lower limbs, and undergo years of specialist training, to enable them to diagnose, treat and help people to look after their feet and lower limbs.
The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists set June as the ‘Feet for Life’ month, and the theme is ‘From Birth to Beyond’. The idea is to highlight the importance of caring for your feet, and the key foot health issues to be aware of at all life stages. The focus of the three main areas are as follows:
Babies and children – It is important that they use well-fitting and appropriate socks and shoes to ensure that growing little feet are kept healthy. Parents should seek advice on how to choose appropriate footwear for young children. Consultations should be done to establish key foot health issues affecting children and teenagers, such as athlete’s foot and sweaty feet.
18-40 age group – Within this group the focus is on everyday footwear. It encompasses how to find the perfect heel height, choosing proper slippers, sandals, and other shoes, such as the right sports shoe. Consult also on common foot ailments like bunions, other abnormal issues or pains, and fungal infections.
Over 55 age group – In this grouping the focus is foot problems that are more common as people age. These include those linked with other debilitating conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, and general circulatory problems. Advice on overall foot care, and choosing appropriate footwear is key.
According to the Society, “Feet are one of the hardest working parts of our body, but they are also one of the most neglected. During Feet for Life Month the Society wanted to remind people not to ignore their feet or any foot pain they might experience. Walking through pain or ignoring problems can over time cause damage to the feet and lower limbs. So if your feet hurt, or you notice anything unusual about them, visit a podiatrist, who can diagnose causes of pain and provide appropriate treatment.”
Some Common Foot Complaints a Podiatrist can Help With
- Bunions – Have you noticed a bump developing where your big toe meets the foot? Then this could be a bunion. Some people have a genetic predisposition to developing a bunion, but footwear can make the problem worse. If your bunion is causing you discomfort, have it checked.
- Ingrown toenails – This is where the nail becomes ingrown, when the side of the nail cuts into the skin. It is a regular occurrence in children and young adults, that can be extremely painful, leading to infection, if not treated.
- Muscle or joint pain – Are you experiencing frequent aches and pain in your feet, ankles or legs? This could be due to your muscles or joints. Often this can be noticeable if walking a lot, doing exercise, or being ‘on your feet’. A podiatrist can identify the cause along with appropriate treatment.
- Corns and calluses – These are areas of hard, thickened skin that develop because of excessive pressure or friction. If they are causing you discomfort, a podiatrist can safely and painlessly treat with them. Podiatrists advise that patients do not treat these at home, as it can result in injury and infection.
- Diabetic issues -If you have diabetes, you should have regular foot checks. Each year, thousands of amputations take place amongst persons with diabetes, which could have been prevented with appropriate foot care. A podiatrist can carry out a diabetes foot check and ensure you are receiving the tailored care that you need.
Foot Care Improvement and Prevention Tips
A good foot care regime will not only improve foot health, but help prevent the common problems. Here are some tips:
- Keep toenails at a moderate length. Nails that become too long can press against the end of shoes, causing soreness, ulceration, and even infection.
- Check your feet daily and moisturise, (but not between the toes), to keep them supple. Feet lose their natural oils as they age, and nails can become brittle.
- Avoid any socks that are too tight, which may restrict circulation, or cramp the toes.
- Stay active and on the move. This tones up muscles, helps to strengthen arches, and stimulates blood circulation.
- Ensure you choose well-fitting, supportive footwear.
Remember, foot pain is not normal… So see a podiatrist if you’re experiencing any problems with your feet; they are the experts in foot health.
Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!