Osteo-Arthritis & Rheumatoid Arthritis: Painful joints are associated with the above and both are medical conditions that should be treated by your doctor. Exercise of the joints help to keep them warm and assist circulation and flexibility, and a qualified Reflexologist may give some comfort. Toes may lift and cross one another which can rub and create corns and calluses’ and your footwear may become misshapen.
What to do: After visiting your Doctor, seek the advice of your Chiropodist and shoe fitter as they can add orthosis to your footwear and recommend the right shoes to take the pressure off. Keep your feet warm, and manipulate your bones to aid circulation.
Toenails: There are various problems and conditions associated with toenails, usually due to damage or possibly neglect at some point. Common conditions are fungal infections, thickening of the toe nail and ingrown toenails.
What to do: Prevention is the keyword. Much can be done at home by regular pedicures when bathing. Most importantly cut toenails to the shape of the toe with a gentle curve to take off sharp edges and prevent ingrown nails. Toenails can ruin hosiery and footwear. Your Doctor or Podiatrist will have seen most problems associated with toe nails and will treat accordingly.
Whatever the problem, when buying shoes make sure that:-
1) You visit a shop with a qualified shoe fitter in attendance. It will not cost you more to have your shoes professionally fitted, and will ensure that you have the correct fitting shoes suitable for the purpose intended.
2) The shoes fit correctly. Ensure that shoes fit snugly around the foot and that they are not “sloppy”. Ideally a fastening such as a bar, lace or ankle strap should be used to ensure that the shoes stay positioned correctly on the foot and can be adjusted for hosiery.
3) Ensure shoes are the correct width in the toe box. Your toes should not be too cramped or able to “swim around” in a shoe, as both cases will lead to further foot health issues i.e. rubbing, blisters, corns etc.
4) There is enough depth in the toe box to accommodate your toes and allow them to function correctly. A shallow toe box can rub the top of the toes.
5) Ensure that shoes are stable and have support around the ankle.
6) Ensure that when trying shoes on, you are wearing the intended hosiery to be worn with that footwear.
7) Buy the right shoe for the right occasion!
Remember that in all cases it is important to:-
• Keep feet clean
• Cut toe nails to shape, not down at sides or they may become ingrown.
• Have fresh hosiery daily
• Buy correctly fitted footwear and hosiery
• Change shoes daily to allow the moisture retained from wearing the shoe to disperse.
• Do not worry alone. Always seek the advice of professionals i.e. Doctors, Chiropodists or Shoe Fitters at the
start of the problem, they are trained to advise you.
Our feet are one of the hardest working parts of our body. In an average life time we walk over 75,000 miles, yet little attention is paid to our feet.
Because of this wear and tear, older people tend to suffer from various foot problems, whether it is bunions, hammer toes, swollen feet or other conditions. It is important that shoes fit correctly and are suitable for purpose. Here are some of the more common foot ailments, and overleaf you will find some helpful hints to prevent them.
Bunions: are “adventitious bursae” or the “red wobbly bit” on the side of an enlarged joint. These develop in response to pressure put on the joint. Badly fitted or narrow, pointed shoes can cause them. A Hallux Valgus is when the big toe is deviated toward the smaller toes creating a bigger toe joint – some believe it is an hereditary condition. It can be initiated by ill fitting footwear.
What to do: Seek professional medical advice as various options are available to deal with this condition, and ensure your footwear is suitably fitted.
Corns, Calluses and Blisters: Corns are pressure induced, starving the skin of life support systems i.e. oxygen. These are more often found on mature feet in bony areas that have had ill fitting footwear for some time. Adolescents can develop a heel bump through a shoe back slipping, causing continual abrasion. Hard skin builds up becoming unsightly or blisters may blow up into watery lumps which may burst, thus creating an open wound.
What to do: Moisturising creams will help. Visit your chiropodist / podiatrist as they will remove the offending build up of skin and recommend protective dressings. Immediately discard footwear that rubs and ensure that future pairs are correctly fitted. Check hosiery for “casting off” knots on seams that can chafe.
Chilblains: This is a circulatory problem associated with cold weather. Chilblains will itch and burn and become itchier still when warm. On first appearance they will be slightly purple, turning red and swollen. It is tempting to scratch, but this can break and ulcerate the chilblain.
What to do: Prevention is definitely better than a cure. Before severe cold weather arrives, ensure feet are kept warm, do not walk bare-foot on cold surfaces. Do not wear tight fitting footwear or socks. Avoid extremes of temperature. Do not put feet in front of direct heat or on radiators or hot water bottles. Reflexology is good for wheel-chair users as they will help circulation. Calamine lotion and witch hazel are both soothing and cooling, whilst antiseptic should be applied to broken chilblains until medical attention is sought.
Gout: Gout is a painful form of arthritis and more often found in the big toe, due to too much uric acid in bodily fluids. Can be hereditary, but affected by diet and alcohol intake. Joints become agonisingly swollen so that they cannot bear the least touch.
What to do: Your Doctor will give greatest assistance and will prescribe as necessary. Footwear needs to be wide and deep during an attack, to accommodate the increase in foot size and allowing toes to move.
Athlete’s Foot: An irritating itchy disorder that appears as white skin and sometimes small blisters between the toes. The affected area may become red, cracked, sore and weepy with scratching.
What to do: Antifungal powders and creams are available from chemists – follow the instructions carefully. Keep feet as dry, clean and cool as possible, this infection thrives in warm damp areas. Avoid synthetic hosiery and powder shoe linings. Keep to your own towel.
Verrucae: (Latin for wart). We mostly think of children having Verrucae, but with people keeping fit at all ages, using swimming pools and communal changing areas, any age can find a Verrucae as they are highly contagious. The centre of the wart spot contains small spots of red, brown or black which are the worn ends of capillary loops. Verrucae can be quite painful.
What to do: Your chemist can offer you proprietary products, or consult your Doctor or Chiropodist (especially if diabetic), as they will prescribe as necessary. Protective over socks are available for bathing areas from chemists and sports shops.
Sweaty Feet and Foot Odour: (Hyperhipdrosis and Bromidrosis) Our feet have more sweat glands per centimetre, than any part of our body – approximately 250,000, and we perspire from them an eggcup full of moisture daily. The bacteria within this perspiration cling happily to our hosiery, feet and footwear – particularly within trainers as they have so much padding to absorb this moisture and this can lead to bad odours and fungal infections.
What to do: Keep feet and hosiery clean and dry. Allow footwear to dry out naturally. Alternate your shoes to allow them to dry thoroughly. Do not dry out over heat or your shoes will crack. Wear natural materials close to the feet i.e. leather for footwear, cotton or wool for hosiery, as these are natural products allowing moisture to be released. Scented or charcoal insoles are available from chemists, but do not use them if they make your shoes too tight.
Diabetes: As diabetes affects the nerve endings it is difficult for diabetics to feel the onset of a foot problem. Because feet are more often out of sight and therefore out of mind, most Doctors and Podiatrists go to great lengths to warn of foot health problems associated with diabetes, as they can be prone to ulcers. Gangrene can in extreme cases be an occasional complication.
What to do: Observe daily hygiene and dry your feet carefully. Ensure that correctly fitted footwear is worn. Shoes that are too tight will restrict blood to the foot, and shoes that are too loose will allow the foot to move in the shoe, both potentially causing blisters. Always seek medical advice. Do not dwell on worries however small they may seem.