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All you need to know about your Feet!

Last updated date: 21-Jun-2022

CloudHospital

14 mins read

Foot Pain

Foot issues can have a tremendous impact on your health and quality of life. The feet are the wheels of your body, as they keep you going every day. And when there are problems with your feet, it can cause pain, discomfort, and issues in other parts of the body such as the ankles, knees, hips and spine.

When we walk, run or even stand, we put our full weight on the 26 bones of our feet. This way we travel as many as 100,000 miles in a lifetime, making the feet the most abused part of our body. This article explores what you need to know about your feet, the most common foot conditions, and what you need to know in order to take good care of your feet!

 

Foot anatomy

Foot anatomy

The foot is one of the most complex and intricate parts of the human body. It is comprised of 26 bones, 33 joints, and over 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The foot arch is made up of two curved rows of long foot bones called metatarsals, which support the toes. The arch is concave, with a thick pad of fat under it to cushion it from shock during walking. The heel bone (calcaneus) forms the back part of the arch; its pointed end sticks out at about 15 degrees from vertical (this helps us balance when we stand).

Many nerves run through the sole of your foot; they carry messages from your brain to your muscles and from your skin to your brain. These nerves can be damaged by injury or disease — for example, diabetes can affect them.

The muscles in your feet move when you walk or run and help you balance on uneven surfaces. Some muscles also help keep tendons stretched so they don't become tight over time — this can cause pain or stiff joints later in life.

 

Foot Pain

Foot pain is complex as it can be caused by many factors: trauma to the foot, such as foot fractures, overuse of the foot, poor biomechanics (poor alignment from wearing improper shoes or uneven walking), poor footwear choices (high heels), injury or illness that affects other areas of the body (such as diabetes), local foot infections or foot rashes. This section explores the most common causes of foot pain.

 

Foot pain caused by improper footwear

In many cases, foot and heel pain is caused by wearing shoes that don't fit properly, which puts more pressure on certain parts of the foot — particularly the heels and balls of the feet. Shoes with high heels can put extra pressure on your toes and arches. If you have flat feet, wearing high heels can strain your Achilles tendon and calf muscles. 

It's important to choose to wear only shoes that fit properly so you don't have to compensate for poor support by walking differently or putting more weight on one leg than another. Choose comfortable, supportive shoes made of leather or other natural material that breathe well. This helps maintain your feet dry and cool during hot weather or when exercising outdoors in warm weather.

If you're overweight or obese, losing weight may help relieve some types of foot pain. Losing just 10 pounds (4 kilograms) could reduce stress on joints by up to 50 percent

Plantar fasciitis consists of the inflammation of the ligament that runs across the bottom of the foot and supports your arch and heel. The cause can be wearing shoes that don't fit well or have worn soles. Foot bunion deformities occur when your big toe moves toward the second toe, causing a bump on the side of your foot just above where your big toe joins it — this bump is called a bunionette. Heel spurs are bony growths that appear at the back of your heel bone (calcaneus). They often result in pain in the back of your heel where it meets your Achilles tendon.

There are many treatments for these conditions: physical therapy exercises, orthotics, special shoe inserts and surgery may be recommended depending

 

Gout

Gout

Gout is an arthritis presentation that affects most often the foot joints. This is caused by increased levels of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is a waste product resulting from the breakdown of certain foods, such as meat and seafood. When uric acid accumulates in your blood it can form crystals that cause swelling, redness and foot point pain and foot edema.

Gout is most common in middle-aged men, but it can affect people of all ages and both sexes. It's often hereditary, so you may be more likely to develop gout if other family members have had it. The symptoms of gout usually start suddenly and include:

  • pain in one joint, usually first thing in the morning or after resting for a while during the night
  • swollen joints – most often big toe but sometimes fingers or ankles (this is called tophi)

The following treatment options may help:

  • Foot pain relief, mainly nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium. They reduce pain and inflammation and help prevent gout attacks.
  • Colchicine - this drug is a traditional medication for gout that comes from the roots of the autumn crocus plant (Colchicum autumnale). It has anti-inflammatory properties and it can be used alone or with other medications to treat acute attacks of gouty arthritis.

 

Foot cramps

Foot cramps are foot muscles spasms that cause your foot to curl up. They can also cause pain and tenderness in your foot. Foot cramps are most common at night, but they can happen at any time.

Foot cramps are caused by an imbalance of minerals in your body. This imbalance is usually related to:

  • Not drinking enough water
  • Not getting enough potassium in your diet
  • Being dehydrated
  • Undergoing blood pressure treatments, such as diuretics 

If you’re experiencing foot cramps at night or any other time, try one of the following methods:

  • Massage the area that is cramping with your fingers until it goes away. You could also try buying a foot massage machine to use regularly
  • Stretch the affected muscle by pointing and flexing your toes toward you as far as possible. If it doesn't improve after a few minutes, stop stretching and massage again until relief comes.

In order to prevent reoccurrence, you can also try exercising regularly. Exercise keeps your muscles strong and supple. Do some foot exercises that target the calf area and arch of your toes (for example, calf raises) so that they aren’t as likely to become cramped when you walk or stand for long periods of time. You can also try and strengthen your feet and ankles by doing exercises like toe raises (lifting each toe separately), pointing them outward, or even looking for a foot exercise machine online.

Foot numbness on the other hand can be caused by many different conditions and diseases. The most common cause is peripheral neuropathy, presented as foot neuropathy, which occurs when the nerves that travel from your spine to your extremities become damaged or inflamed. Other causes include diabetes, vitamin deficiencies, and stress from injury or surgery. A question such as “is foot numbness dangerous?” doesn’t have a straight forwards answer as it widely depends on the underlying cause.

 

Corns and calluses

Corns and calluses are two different types of skin growths. They both form when the skin on your feet becomes thicker than normal, but they develop in different ways.

Corns are caused by repeated pressure and friction on the same spot on your foot. For example, if you wear shoes that don't fit properly or have poor arch support, corns can develop on the ball of your foot or on the toes where the shoe rubs against the skin.

Calluses are caused by repeated pressure and friction over a larger area of your foot. If you're active — such as playing sports or being on your feet all day — calluses can form on the bottom of your foot from repeated contact with rough surfaces like concrete or sandpaper-like materials like carpeting.

Both corns and calluses usually start off as small patches of thickened skin that may be red or white in coloration; eventually, they become larger and harder as more layers of dead skin build up over time.

Depending on their location, you may want to see a doctor if your corns or calluses aren't responding well to self-treatment methods such as soaking them in cool water to soften them up before trimming them down with scissors.

 

Diabetes and foot health

Diabetes is a chronic condition that makes the body to have too much blood sugar (glucose). Diabetic patients are at risk of having nerve damage, which can affect their feet. When you have nerve damage, your feet can feel numb or tingly. You may not feel pain as easily as you used to because your foot nerves are damaged. A diabetic foot ulcer can develop if you have nerve damage and don't notice cuts or injuries on your feet. Foot ulcers are open sores that destroy the tissues under the skin and can lead to amputation if not treated correctly.

If you have diabetes, it's important to keep your feet healthy to prevent serious complications like amputation or infections that could lead to amputation. Diabetes affects your entire body but has a particularly strong effect on blood vessels and nerves in the extremities (hands and feet).

Diabetes is ultimately the leading cause of serious foot problems in adults. The most common foot problems in people with diabetes are:

  • Nerve Damage – Diabetes may cause nerve damage in the feet, which can result in a loss of feeling and tingling sensations. This nerve damage can also lead to ulcers and infections on the tops and bottoms of the feet.
  • Foot Pain – The combination of neuropathy (nerve damage) and peripheral vascular disease (blockages in blood vessels) can cause foot pain and swell in people with type 2 diabetes. This can often be treated by following proper diabetic foot care protocols like wearing comfortable shoes at all times and seeing your podiatrist regularly for an assessment of your feet every 3 months or so.
  • Skin Infections – Skin infections are common among people with diabetes because they have poor circulation due to peripheral vascular disease (blockages in blood vessels). They are prone to catching different foot funguses or foot yeast infections

 

Foot reflexology

Foot reflexology

The foot has many reflex points on it that correspond with various organs in your body. If a problem exists in any area of your body, it may also affect the corresponding reflex point on your foot. 

Reflexology is a holistic alternative therapy that works with your body's natural healing processes to promote balance and health at all levels of being - physical, emotional, and spiritual. It is based on the theory that there are reflex areas on the feet that correspond to every part of the body. By massaging these reflex areas, we may help reduce pain and symptoms throughout the body – all without using drugs or surgery!

There are many ancient styles of reflexology that utilize different techniques including acupressure, petrissage, massage, tapping and rubbing. The most common method is known as zone therapy which uses thumb pressure on specific areas of the foot to unlock blockages in energy flow. Zone therapy focuses on applying pressure with your thumbs around specific zones on the bottom of the feet. When these points are pressed, they release tension from other parts of the body such as organs or glands which may be affected by imbalances in those areas. If you cannot find a foot spa nearby or a near foot massage center, you can look online for a foot massager, such as a foot roller

 

Why do feet smell?

feet smell

Bad foot odor is one of the most common foot problems that people experience. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor hygiene and sweating. Heat and humidity make it more likely to sweat. Sweat is mostly water and salt, but it also contains organic compounds that have a strong smell.

The main cause of foot odor is bacteria on the skin that produce smelly substances called volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs). These bacteria thrive in warm and wet areas, such as between the toes or under an ingrown toenail. Usually, when you sweat, the VSCs are released from your feet. If you use antibacterial soap or antiperspirant deodorants on your feet, these products can kill some of the bacteria responsible for foot odor but not all of them. This leaves some bacteria still alive, which continue producing VSCs and causing foot odor.

Some people are more prone to get foot odor than others. Your genes play a role in how much sweat you produce and how well your body eliminates toxins through sweating. This means that some people may need to wash their feet more often than others or use different types of deodorants.

Here are some tips on how to keep your feet clean and smelling fresh:

  • Wear socks.
  • Change your socks regularly (at least once a day), especially if you have been sweating
  • Wash your feet daily with soap and water, using warm water if possible. After washing, dry your feet thoroughly with a towel before putting on clean socks. If you don't have time to wash your entire body, then just focus on cleaning your feet instead — this will help prevent bad foot odor from developing in the first place!
  • Use talcum powder or cornstarch after showering to help absorb moisture on your skin and reduce perspiration (which causes stink). But not too much talcum powder because it may irritate sensitive skin
  • Use an antiperspirant containing aluminum chloride hexahydrate (ACH). ACH is safe and effective at reducing sweating. It's available over-the-counter in gel form or as a roll-on deodorant that doesn't contain alcohol or other ingredients that could irritate your skin.
  • Apply talcum powder between your toes every morning to absorb moisture from inside your shoes.

 

What are podiatrists and how can they help?

Podiatrists are doctors who specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of the foot and ankle and associated structures of the leg. Podiatrists, sometimes called foot doctors, are trained to treat all foot problems, from ingrown toenails to hammer toes, corns, calluses and bunions.

Generally, podiatrists have completed four years of medical school and three years of surgical training. They are uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat all types of foot problems. Podiatrists are often dealing with the following:

  • Diagnosing and treating common foot ailments such as corns and calluses;
  • Prescribing medication for certain infections;
  • Treating and diagnosing through foot x rays, injuries such as sprains and fractures;
  • Surgical procedures including biopsies (removal of abnormal tissue) or removal of a bunion;
  • Discussing diabetic care with patients with diabetes mellitus;
  • Explaining how proper footwear and orthotics can be beneficial in preventing injuries;

Podiatrists are foot specialists also trained in pain management techniques such as physical therapy (e.g., ultrasound), injections for pain control (e.g., cortisone), shockwave therapy (e.g., Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy), exercise prescription for rehabilitation of musculoskeletal conditions, foot surgery (e.g., bone amputation), surgical removal of corns/calluses/warts/moles/skin cancers from the sole of the foot or anywhere else on the body

 

Foot care essentials

Foot care

Start with a good foot care plan! In fact, a foot care plan should be part of your overall health care.

Here's what you need to know:

  • Rest your feet. Your feet need rest every day. When you're not active, keep your feet up and avoid putting pressure on them as much as possible. You can buy online a footrest under the desk for use at work. Or if you want to give your feet a spa relaxation moment, here are some simple tips: 1) Soak your feet in warm water for 10 minutes before massaging them 2) Apply moisturizer or lotion on dry skin before massaging them 3) Use coconut oil or olive oil mixed with essential oils such as rosemary or lavender which have therapeutic properties to help relax your mind and body. If you do not want to do this at home, you can search for a nearby foot reflexology center and book a foot peel, a foot bath or a foot scrub.
  • Wear comfortable shoes which fit well and are supportive enough for the activity you're doing. If you have questions about shoe fit, talk with an athletic footwear professional at the store where you buy shoes.
  • Brush your toes gently with a nail brush before a foot soak
  • Apply lotion after showering or bathing when your skin is clean and dry to help prevent chafing and blisters from forming on dry feet.
  • Wear socks that absorb moisture and keep your feet dry and comfortable.
  • Trim your toenails straight across, and file them if they're rough. Do not cut them too short as this could lead to ingrown nails, resulting in local inflammation and possible infections. Usually, if you can not do this by yourself, you could easily make an appointment at a nail salon or for more complicated cases you could go see a podiatrist or even go to a foot care center.
  • Don't use lotion or spray deodorant on your feet if they're cracked or blistered because this can sting and irritate them even more.

 

Conclusion

Foot care

Our feet are put to the test every day. We walk (sometimes without enough support), run, climb and work out in various ways that sometimes lead us to ignore our feet and their proper care until they cause us some discomfort or pain. In our modern-day world, there are many options for taking proper care of our feet: from foot sprays and grooming aids, and foot creams to massaging lotion and correct fitting shoes. 

As with any other condition, diagnosis and treatment at an early stage are the best ways to ensure a quick recovery. Foot problems can ultimately be treated in a number of ways, including oral medications, injections (steroid injections), exercises, custom orthotics, surgery, or a combination of treatments.

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