Our feet are essential. They’re the way we get around in day to day life, do joyful things like dance, adventurous things like climb a mountain or challenging things like run a marathon. Even if you don’t run, climb or dance, it’s still vital that you keep your feet healthy. With the end of the year approaching, and insurance deductibles about to turn over for the year with the new year, now is a great time to take care of any lingering foot and ankle health issues.
Unfortunately, things like lifestyle, improper footwear, heredity and various health issues can wreak havoc on our feet – from bunions to hammer toes to ingrown toenails to more serious foot and ankle issues.
The team at Foot and Ankle Surgical Associates treat a variety of foot issues, but a few of the most common ailments they see regularly are relatively common issues like ingrown toenails, bunion pain, heel pain and hammer toes.
According to Jessica Christian, lead medical assistant at the organization’s Tacoma location, there are a variety of factors that contribute to these common conditions.
Heel pain can be caused by increased activity, especially when there’s a lack of proper footwear or support, says Jessica. She further explained that a couple examples of increased heel activity could be walking barefoot or not wearing enough support in your shoes.
Footwear can either contribute to or prevent foot problems, but the right support and fit can help fight certain common foot ailments. Tight shoes can cause ingrown toenails or even worsen them. Bunions can be a hereditary condition, but being proactive and understanding what causes the condition can help. Luckily, Jessica says, some of these common issues can be prevented through a proactive approach.
“Proper footwear, custom orthotics, daily foot examinations, and stretching are ways of being proactive or guarding against common foot ailments,” says Jessica.
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association’s website, a hammer toe is defined as a bending of the toe. While any toe can be involved, the condition usually affects the second through fifth toes and it’s more common in women than men.
There are two different types hammer toes, flexible and rigid. As the name suggests, flexible hammer toes are still moveable at the joint. Rigid hammer toes are generally more developed and more serious than the flexible condition. A hammer toe develops because of an abnormal balance of the muscles in the toes. Wearing shoes that are too tight and cause the toes to squeeze can also cause a hammer toe to form.
A few symptoms of a hammer toe include pain at the top of the bent toe when pressure from footwear causes it to bend. The formation of corns on the top of the toe joint and restricted or painful motion of the toe joint are two other symptoms. If left untreated, hammer toes tend to become rigid and, at that point, non-surgical treatment becomes less of an option.
There are several things you can do to help prevent hammer toes from forming or progressing such as wearing supportive shoes and avoiding narrow shoes or footwear that compress your toes.
Ingrown nails are the most common nail impairment, and they occur when the corners of toenails dig into the nail grooves. This condition often leads to symptoms of irritation, redness and swelling. The big toe is most commonly affected by this condition, but other toes can also become affected. Ingrown toenails may be caused by improperly trimmed nails, heredity and wearing tight shoes that crowd the toes.
Another common foot ailment is a bunion. Commonly referred to as a bump on the joint at the base of the big toe. The condition occurs when the bone or tissue at the big toe joint moves out of place. The toe is forced to bend toward the others, causing an often painful lump of bone on the foot. Because this joint carries a lot of the body’s weight while walking, bunions can cause extreme pain if left untreated.
Wearing shoes that are too tight or cause the toes to be squeezed together is a common factor that contribute to bunions. The symptoms of a bunion include a callus or firm bump on the outside edge of the foot, at the base of the big toe. Other symptoms are redness, swelling, or pain, development of hammer toes or calluses under the ball of the foot and restricted or painful motion of the big toe.
All of these common ailments can be prevented all together and treated, if developed. If you have any of these issues or concerns that you may have one of these conditions, experts advise seeking out a podiatrist or other medical professional, such as the medical team at Foot and Ankle Surgical Associates.
Foot and Ankle Surgical Associates have several locations throughout the South Sound, including their Tacoma location at 1901 S Union Avenue, Ent 9 Ste B 3010. To find a listing of their office locations or to learn more, visit their website or call them at 253-272-2999.