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Care For Common Foot Problems

Sep 9, 2008
Our feet are most often overworked, often abused, and usually under-cared for. In fact, we take them for granted until a problem arises. But when they begin to hurt, we are in misery.

There are five common foot problems which generally do not require medical help and are treatable at home.

The first, Morton's neuroma is easily preventable. It usually occurs between the middle toe and the next toe toward the little toe. Behind each of your toes is a bone. Between the bones is a nerve. When these nerves are pinched, they swell. The pressure results in severe pain. Morton's neuroma caused by tight fitting shoes, which put pressure on these nerves resulting in intense pain. New, proper fitting shoes will solve the problem. Ensuring that any shoes you buy are well fitted will prevent it.

A bunion is a spur, which develops on the bone behind the big toe. It is caused by the bone rubbing against the shoe which often happens when a person has a big toe that points towards the other toes of the foot. As the bone rubs against the shoe the skin gets thicker causing the spur. Putting a small pad between the big toe and the second toe will help re-align the big toe with the other toes. Using moleskin around the bunion can relieve the pressure from the rubbing shoe. Also, buying shoes that are wide in the balls of the feet may help.

Corns and calluses are another result of poorly fitting shoes. Corns are lumps of thickened skin with a core and are usually on top of the toes. Calluses are also thickened skin but are found on the bottom of the foot.

Corn plasters, available in any drug store, can be used to remove corns and calluses. They contain 40% salicylic acid and have very clear directions for application which need to be followed meticulously.

Plantar warts occur on the soles of the foot and are caused by a virus. You can tell a plantar wart from a callus by the small black dot, which is inside the wart. Corn plasters can work for plantar warts but are not always effective. People with plantar warts usually have to see a doctor for treatment. The virus that causes plantar warts is contagious so one should wear bath shoes if sharing a tub or shower.

Sometimes heavy foot use, such as the beginning of a sports program, will result in a stress fracture of one of the bones in the foot known as metatarsal stress fracture. This can be particularly painful and may require six to twelve weeks for the fracture to heal completely so that you can resume normal activity. After identifying the problem, a doctor may apply a walking cast is there is intense pain. A cast does not shorten recovery time and doctors try not to use them if possible. They usually advise patients just to rest the foot as much as possible and use crutches to relieve pressure when walking.

All of the above foot problems, with the exception of metatarsal stress fracture, can be avoided with proper fitting shoes. While price and appearance are primary factors in choosing shoes, it is important to be sure they fit well. Your feet will thank you and you will avoid unnecessary pain.
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