Monday, 23 January 2017

5 Tips for Healthy Feet in Winter

Many of us take care of our feet in summer; the sandals and flip-flops we wear do not hide telltale signs of any foot ailment. However, when winter comes, your feet stay hidden under socks and boots. The cold, snow and ice of the season may trigger several foot problems, and you may not even notice them. You just cannot ignore proper foot care during winter. Given below for your benefit are 5 tips for sound foot health during this season.

Select the right shoes and socks for winter

If you plan to stay outdoors for long, invest in waterproof shoes. The shoes you choose should have adequate grip to prevent slips and falls on snow-covered slippery surfaces. Since wearing woolen or thermal socks will help keep your feet warm, make sure your winter shoes have some extra room to accommodate thicker socks.

Keep your feet moisturized and clean

Keeping your feet clean is as essential in winter as it’s in summer. You may either use a little soap and water to wash your feet or soak them in a tub of lukewarm water; add a little baking soda to the tub of water to make your feet feel refreshed. Make sure to apply some moisturizer on your clean feet as winter makes the skin dry and flaky.

Walk carefully

Don’t run or make any sudden movements on pavements and roads covered with snow, or you may end up hurting yourself. Even when you wear shoes with a good grip, it pays to walk carefully. Ligament tears and ankle sprains are very common in winter and it would be good to be a little careful rather than feel bad later.

Combat foot odor

You feet can’t breathe in winter when they are covered in woolen or thermal socks all day long and kept confined in boots or covered shoes made of rubber, vinyl and other synthetic materials. No wonder you have to battle unpleasant foot odor.

You should wash your feet with an antiseptic soap every time you return from outdoor work; it is the simplest way to get rid of this problem. In case you are on travel, check for some vodka in the hotel room mini-bar; you can dab a little on your feet and the alcohol will kill the odor-causing bacteria.

Stay protected against chilblains

Chilblains occur due to abnormal response to cold. These tiny, itchy lumps on the skin can be very painful, although they usually go away in one or two weeks. In case you tend to develop chilblains, you should avoid excessive exposure to the cold and try to stay warm. If you have already developed chilblains, you need to consult your podiatrist for medications to get speedy relief.

Dry and itchy skin as well as cracked heels are other winter problems. Apart from keeping your feet clean, dabbing some foot cream lotions or applying honey can help combat cracked heels. Those using the gym may tend to develop foot fungus in winter. Wearing shower shoes in the locker room and keeping your feet dry can help you stay away from it.

Although winter brings its fair share of foot problems, you can keep your feet healthy with these simple tips. In case of complications causing concern, you would do well to consult a reputed podiatrist with experience and expertise. So, put your best foot forward this winter.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Standing on the Job: Foot Care Tips for Women

Standing long hours on the job is an integral part of the life of many women. From nurses and bank tellers to retail salespersons, restaurant servers and mail sorters, standing for long hours every day takes a heavy toll on the health of women.

These women suffer from a variety of foot ailments – from bunions, calluses, corns, varicose veins and painful/swollen legs and feet to low back pain, shoulder/neck stiffness, muscle fatigue and soreness. Their ability to perform well on the job takes a beating and even wrecks the quality of their life.

Tips to prevent foot ailments
 

Quitting jobs isn’t a feasible or desirable option for women: the next best thing they can do is to take the following preventive foot care measures, to avoid health issues due to standing on job for prolonged hours. These steps are simple to follow and they do not interfere with their jobs.

Choosing right shoes

Do not choose fashionable high heels or pointy shoes with minimal or poor support for your feet and toes; choose instead proper shoes that match your foot size and offer adequate space and support to your toes and feet. If you are already suffering from foot pain or other foot ailments, you should consult your foot doctor to check whether you need orthotics or supportive insoles to wear with your shoes.

Wearing socks and compression stockings

If you suffer from heal pain, wear padded socks. You may also wear compression stockings that offer support to the blood vessels and muscles of the lower leg, thus promoting better circulation. This in turn would help reduce swelling/edema.

Reducing weight

Your feet have to bear and carry around your entire body weight all day long. Just imagine the kind of pressure they would suffer if you were overweight. Therefore, it would help to spare your feet the trouble of excessive pressure, if you shed a few kilos and maintain a healthy weight.

Doing foot exercises

Do some simple stretches and walk around a little from time to time to avoid standing in the same position for long hours. If you have a gym or an empty room in the office, you may even do spot jogging or a few bends and stretches on the floor. This will improve your blood circulation and ward off muscle fatigue.

Pampering your feet at home

At home, you can soak your tired feet in footbath, or give them a foot massage/pedicure, as it will decrease the pain in your overworked joints and muscles.

Following some other steps

Stand on anti-fatigue mats with a cushioned surface that reduce the stress on your feet and legs. When standing for long hours, shift your wait periodically from one foot to another. At lunch breaks or other time offs, try to sit down and rest your legs. If possible, use sit-stand stools to give your feet and legs some respite during work.

Employers must provide a healthy and comfortable workplace for everyone. Unfortunately, women’s health is ignored in general, especially where they are at a high risk of developing several foot ailments due to long hours of standing.

If you belong to such an unfortunate workforce, make use of the simple tips given above to avoid work-related foot health problems. Should you develop any, seek prompt medical advice from a reputed foot doctor with considerable expertise and experience. Make your job painless and stress-free!

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Foot Care Tips for the Elderly

Due to several reasons as you age, you start developing a number of foot problems – from wear and tear of joints to the skin losing its elasticity and becoming more fragile, dry and thin than before. Since foot ailments can cause a lot of pain and discomfort and even restrict mobility, elders need to take special care of their feet. Here are a few tips on geriatric foot care:

General foot care and protection

Foot health attested by regular foot examination is very important for elders. You need to keep your feet clean and dry, and clip the nails. However, since aging makes the nails brittle, you should not nick your skin while clipping nails. If dry skin is a problem (as your skin starts losing its natural oils due to aging), you can apply moisturizer on your feet but not between the toes.

You should conduct daily foot inspection to notice small/unusual cuts, bruises, bumps, nail distortions or color changes; should you find any of these symptoms, consult your podiatrist for prompt examination.

Choosing the right footwear and socks    

With age, you start losing the fatty pads cushioning the base of your foot; it is important therefore to choose shoes with the right support and fit. If you select shoes that are too tight, narrow or not supportive, you will suffer from foot pain and discomfort soon.

Ideally, you should opt for shoes with adequate arch support, roomy toe boxes and sufficient sole cushioning to absorb sudden shock. You should pair your shoes with fitting moisture-wicking socks to keep your feet comfortable and dry. If you have problems with your lower limbs, your podiatrist may suggest using orthotics to offer support and stability.

Elders often end up wearing socks and stockings that are too tight to keep their feet warm. However, by doing so, they restrict the blood flow in their feet and suffer from cramp in toes. Thus, whether you are using bed socks or stockings, make sure you choose a comfortable fitting pair.

Consulting a podiatrist on time

Arthritis, diabetes and circulatory problems are common in older people, which may often cause foot pain, discomfort or delayed healing of nicks and cuts. Foot problems that restrict or threaten your mobility need immediate medical attention.

At times, ill-fitting footwear can cause calluses, corns and ingrown toenails, for relief from which a podiatrist can suggest the right footwear. As your immune system takes a beating with age, fungal nails or athlete’s foot too may trouble you as your body finds it tough to manage the pathogens causing the symptoms.

The elderly face an increased risk of bunions and hammertoes (due to excessive pressure on their lower limbs) as well as neuroma and metatarsalgia (due to loss of fatty pads at the base of the foot, depleting the protective layer between the bones and the sole).

Geriatric foot problems can vary thus from small aggravations to serious issues. Minor or major, they all need prompt medical attention to avoid small discomforts from snowballing into more serious, debilitating issues.

You do not need to stop enjoying your golden years of wisdom and rich experiences due to geriatric foot irritants. Make your everyday life full of vigor and vitality by simply adhering to the following: regular foot care routine, right footwear, daily exercise (for better blood circulation and strengthening of muscles) and periodic visit to your podiatrist especially when you notice unusual foot occurrences (like a color or texture change and pain or discomfort).

Sunday, 23 October 2016

4 Common Foot Problems Plaguing Runners

Of all parts of the body, the feet happen to be the boon or bane of runners; that is perhaps why most runners have a love-hate relationship with their own feet, depending on the fortunes or misfortunes of their chosen profession. Runners have to deal with various foot problems – from overuse injuries and blisters to fractures and soreness.

While some of these conditions can be treated easily with medication, shoes with proper support and orthotics, others may need elaborate treatment together with staying off the running track for quite some time. Listed below are four most common foot problems that are anathema to runners:

Plantar fasciitis

Runners who intensify their training sessions all of a sudden, or use shoes with improper support may feel acute pain on the bottom of their feet. This happens because of the inflammation of plantar fascia, a thick fibrous layer of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. This foot problem is known as plantar fasciitis. Those with too weak or tight calf muscles are also prone to this condition.

Foot doctors advise using proper running shoes with inserts or orthotics to avoid this ailment, the victims of which would benefit if they stretch their feet, apply ice on the bottom of their feet and roll the affected foot (after the pain has subsided) on a tennis ball.

Stress fracture

Though stress fractures can occur in any of the several bones comprising the foot, they are most likely to affect the metatarsals (a group of five long bones that lead to the base of each toe from the mid- and hind-foot). Runners do suffer from stress fractures when they step accidentally on potholes, stones or uneven surfaces. Staying off the running track is the only solution in such cases to let the affected bone heal.

Athlete’s foot

This is a fungal infection affecting the foot skin, especially between the toes. Runners who sweat a lot and leave their skin moist for a long time are prone to this ailment. Since this is a mildly contagious disease, contact with an infected person or towels, shoes, etc., can increase the risk. The fungus could also be present on the floor of showers or locker rooms shared by runners. The best way to guard against this disease is to keep the skin dry between toes, wear absorbent socks and change wet shoes as soon as possible. 

Friction induced problems

Shear force works on foot skin while one runs; it can cause accumulation of fluid in some areas leading to blisters. Corns and calluses can occur when shear forces aren’t strong enough to form blisters. To reduce the friction at work between the feet and the shoes, a runner should wear well-fitted shoes along with absorbent socks. Applying petroleum jelly on the affected area or using prescription treatments would offer speedy relief from these friction-induced foot ailments.

The foot is an amazingly complex mechanism that comprises several muscles, tendons, bones and ligaments. All these parts have to work well together for a good running practice. A single disruption, injury or ailment of any of these parts would affect the proper function of the feet. Runners should never ever ignore foot pain or any other discomfort: they should consult promptly an experienced foot care specialist.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Diabetic Foot Care: 5 Important Tips

Diabetes can impair blood supply to your feet and trigger diabetic peripheral neuropathy (loss of sensitivity of nerves to pain, temperature, and pressure particularly in the legs and feet). Because of this, foot injuries take a longer time to heal; cuts, bruises or other foot injuries are likely to go unnoticed and untreated and get worse. Given below are five important tips for diabetic foot care.

1.Managing the condition

You should follow these steps assiduously to manage your foot health effectively: eating a balanced diet (rich in fruits and vegetables recommended), monitoring your blood sugar level, staying active and controlling weight gain with a regular exercise regimen, limiting your alcohol intake and quitting smoking. In addition, regular general health and foot health check-ups are crucial to recognizing red flags and taking prompt treatment.

2.Daily foot inspection

Check your feet every day to spot sores, cuts, corns and calluses, red spots, blisters, infected toenails and swelling. If you find any, attend to them promptly asking your foot doctor for advice. You can use a pumice stone to smooth corns and calluses, but don’t cut them as it can damage your skin and may even cause infection.

Remember to trim your toenails and seek help if you find them yellowish, thick or growing back into your skin. If you find it difficult to bend over and inspect your toes, you can use a mirror or ask your family to help. Every time you return home, make sure you wash your feet, dry them and inspect to see if they are clean.

3.Choosing the right footwear and socks

The right footwear that provides adequate support to your feet is crucial for good foot health. It’s best to buy shoes in the evening when your feet are at their largest – they do swell during the day; that would help you get a good fit. While buying, you should ensure that the shoes do not pinch your toes or feet, and the toe box is comfortable.

According to foot doctors, you should avoid wearing high heels or shoes with pointed toes that put undue pressure on your toes. For daily wear, flat walking shoes or athletic shoes would be a prudent choice. Just like shoes, the right socks too are crucial. Wear lightly padded, clean and good fit socks with no seams; that would help avoid walking barefoot and injuring your feet accidentally.

4.Avoiding barefoot walking

Walking barefoot and stepping on something that hurts or cuts could be dangerous, since you may not notice that your foot is hurt. Even while indoors, avoid going barefoot for all it takes to hurt your feet is a misplaced nail or a child’s toy. As you avoid going barefoot on hot pavements or sandy beaches, be on guard to take the same care when at home.

5.Seeking medical attention for foot ailments

Whether you experience numbness, unexplainable pain, or suffer injuries, cuts or bruises that refuse to heal, don’t try over-the-counter medicines. Consult your foot doctor for correct diagnosis of the cause and proper prescription of medications, taking into consideration pre-existing health condition, if any. You can even seek from your doctor foot care tips on special shoes and orthotic support for free and comfortable mobility.

With conscious follow-up action on these tips and periodical consultation with an experienced podiatrist, you can avoid foot ailments and enjoy perfect foot health, despite your diabetes.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Preventing Foot Discomfort during Air Travel: Five Simple Ideas

You love air travel but hate one thing about it. You get too limited space to relax and sit comfortably. Sometimes it gives you a trapped feeling and can lead to several health problems, the most common being swollen foot.

When you sit for hours at a stretch in the same position, the muscles pumping blood to your feet tend to become inactive, causing inflammation and pain. Low cabin pressure along with dry air circulating in the plane could also lead to swollen foot. Furthermore, dehydration during the flight may worsen foot problems.

Given below are five simple ideas for you to keep in mind to ensure sound foot health during air travel.

1. Reduce salt intake before travel

Daily intake of salt is necessary to enhance your ability to perform. However, it has its downside too. Salt retains fluid, which could lead to swollen foot. Therefore, medical advice for you is to reduce salt intake on the day or even a day before the travel.

2. Drink plenty of water

Staying hydrated before and throughout your travel is a good precautionary step to avoid swollen foot. Better, carry your own bottle of water, if you can take it past security. If you can’t, buy one after security clearance in one of the stalls there. Do not hesitate to get it refilled inside the aircraft. A well-hydrated body can forestall the chances of swollen foot. In addition, it keeps you active with frequent bathroom visits!

3. Stroll around in the aircraft

You do not have to sit tight keeping your seat belt fastened after the take off: stroll around in the aircraft when allowed. It keeps blood flowing as you pace along the aisle.

Your movement will be easier, if you can have an aisle seat. If you can’t get one, carry out frequent foot exercises. Rotate the feet and point your toes up, down and sideways. You can even prop your feet up and then down, if the seats next to you are unoccupied.

4. Pamper yourself with foot massage

Another way to avoid swollen foot and ensure blood flow is pampering your feet with a foot massage. Get rid of those shoes, simply put your foot on the lap and give it and the toes a good rub, and some gentle twists. This will reduce the strain, help you feel relaxed and will keep the blood circulating.

5. Place your feet properly

A huge baggage near your feet can be a bothersome obstruction, which prevents you from stretching your feet. If you place your feet in awkward positions, blood flow is affected and it adds to your swollen foot woes. What you should do, therefore, is to keep all your hand luggage in the overhead storage bin, so that you have ample legroom – in airline parlance ‘seat pitch’ – to place your feet comfortably.

You may not be able to avoid taking flights; but you can definitely avoid swollen foot during and after the journey. Wearing proper and comfortable footwear, making enough legroom to stretch and a dose of quick exercise can offer great relief even when you are in mid air. However, if the problem persists after the journey, you should consult an expert podiatrist for timely treatment.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

The Basics you should know before a Bunion Surgery

If you have long been suffering from foot pain due to bunions, you may be considering surgery as a feasible option. However, you should know you could get relief from bunions more often by taking appropriate medicines, in consultation with an experienced podiatrist.

Changing your footwear can sometimes be helpful. If all other options fail, surgery remains the only solution to get rid of this foot pain once and for all.

If you are decided on a bunion surgery, make sure you have gathered enough information about the procedure. Given below are a few such basic details you should know before the surgery. 

Suitability for bunion surgery

Age is not really a serious issue for this foot surgery. Anyone can undergo this operation, provided they are in good health. The following foot conditions indicate strongly the surgical option:

  • Difficulty while walking or carrying out regular activities
  • Pain while wearing shoes
  • Inability to move the big toe properly
  • Constant swelling of the big toe
  • Failure of anti-inflammatory drugs in providing relief
  • Bending of the big toe towards the other toes in severe cases

Preparing for the surgery

The first step to bunion surgery is a proper consultation with an experienced podiatrist, who has already conducted successfully several such operations. You should provide the surgeon with your medical history, giving critical health information, if any, of diabetes, heart or lung disease, allergies etc.

The doctor may ask you to do a few clinical tests like X-ray, electrocardiogram, and routine blood tests. Inform the podiatrist about the medicines you take. Usually the doctor instructs you how to get prepared before the day of surgery. 

Risk factors

Just like any surgery, bunion operation has its share of risks too. You may have prolonged toe pain/irritation, which arises due to insertion of hardware during the surgical procedure.

The operation may leave you with complications such as over/under correction, stiffness of the big toe joint, prolonged swelling/infection and nerve problems. Moreover, the most disheartening point is that bunion tends to recur after a few years in spite of a successful surgery. 

Recovery after the surgery

Generally, the recovery time varies from two to six weeks or even more. If you expect that your foot would retain its prior-to-surgery scarless look, then you will not be happy with the outcome! Mostly the operation leaves you with an unpleasant bump on the side of your toe, which is not easy to hide. In addition, you will suffer some discomfort or other after the surgery.

A detailed discussion with the foot specialist is necessary for you to be fully aware of what it means to undergo a bunion surgery, and to have a realistic expectation about its outcome. Clarify with the podiatrist all the issues that keep worrying you, get satisfactory answers, and then only should you decide on and proceed with the surgical procedure.