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It can be easy to take our feet for granted. They get us out of bed every morning and back between the covers every night. In between, they’re supporting us at work, school, play and in our recreational endeavors. Just normal actvity subjects our feet to hundreds of tons of force.
That’s a lot of pressure to put on the smallest support system in our body, and also one of the most complex. Our two feet together contain more than 50 bones, which is one-fourth of all the bones in our body. They also contain more than 60 joints and 200 muscles, tendons and ligaments that hold everything together.
With all of that, it should be no surprise that the majority (8 out of 10) of Americans have experienced some form of foot problem in their lives. That could be anything from a sprain or fracture to chronic foot pain.
Read: Good pain. Bad pain.
When to get help
If you’re experiencing foot pain that doesn’t go away, you’ll want to see a professional. Orthopedic doctors are trained to treat the entire body, which can be hugely important in identifying problems. Orthopedists are also experts in bones, ligaments, muscles and tendons.
At Great Basin Orthopaedics (GBO), we use surgical, non-surgical and physical therapy methods to treat these conditions, among others:
- Adult acquired flatfoot deformity: a condition that results in a fallen arch with the foot pointed outward
- Arthritis: inflammation of one or more of your joints. It can cause pain and stiffness in any joint in the body and is common in the small joints of the foot and ankle.
- Bunion correction: a bunion is a painful bony bump that develops on the inside of the foot at the big toe joint.
- Claw toe: Having claw toe means your toes "claw," digging down into the soles of your shoes and creating painful calluses.
- Clubfoot: a deformity in which an infant's foot is turned inward, often so severely that the bottom of the foot faces sideways or even upward.
- Corns: calluses that form on the toes because the bones push up against the shoe and put pressure on the skin.
- Flexible flatfoot in children: When a child with flexible flatfoot stands, the arch of the foot disappears.
- Hallux Ridigus (stiff big toe): If wear-and-tear or injury damage the articular cartilage of the MTP joint, the raw bone ends can rub together. A bone spur, or overgrowth, may develop on the top of the bone, preventing the toe from bending as much as it needs to when you walk.
- Heel pain: When you pound your feet on hard surfaces playing sports or wear shoes that irritate sensitive tissues, you may develop heel pain, the most common problem affecting the foot and ankle.
- Hammer toe: A deformity of the second, third or fourth toes, when the toe is bent at the middle joint, so that it resembles a hammer.
- Intoeing: commonly referred to as being "pigeon-toed,” this is when a child walks or runs, the feet turn inward instead of pointing straight ahead.
- Jones Fracture (fifth metatarsal): Fractures (breaks) are common in the fifth metatarsal — the long bone on the outside of the foot that connects to the little toe.
- LisFranc (midfoot) fracture-dislocation: These injuries result if bones in the midfoot are broken or ligaments that support the midfoot are torn.
- Morton's Neuroma: Not actually a tumor, but a thickening of the tissue that surrounds the digital nerve leading to the toes
- Plantar Fasciitis and bone spurs: Plantar fasciitis occurs when the strong band of tissue that supports the arch of your foot becomes irritated and inflamed. A bone spur is a bony growth that forms on top of a normal bone.
- Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction: This occurs when the posterior tibial tendon becomes inflamed or torn.
- Sesamoiditis: Sesamoids are bones that are not connected to any other bone, but only to tendons or are embedded in muscle, and they can break (fracture).
Taking care of your feet
“We expect a lot from our feet and ankles and they’re usually up for the task,” said GBO’s Dr. Richard Hayes, one of Northern Nevada’s only fellowship-trained foot and ankle specialists. “But the more we do to take care of them, the better they’ll support us as we age.”
Nevada is a dry place, which can affect most parts of our body, particuarly our feet. This makes it extra important to give them the attention they deserve.
- Remember to wash them daily using a gentle soap, and dry them before putting on socks.
- Apply moisturizer before going to bed.
- Trim your nails regularly, but not too short as that could lead to ingrown toenails.
- Make sure your shoes fit and don’t make high heels a regular part of your wardrobe as they’re bad for your feet and other parts of your body.
- Take a look at your feet on a regular basis to see if you notice any lesions or changes in appearance. As with anything, the sooner you catch it, the easier it it to take care of the problem.
- While pedicures are often seen as a luxury, they are good for improving circulation in our feet, ankles and toes; and generally improve our mental health.
- Lose weight. “Walking puts pressure on your feet that's equivalent to two to three times your body weight,” Dr. Hayes explains. “So any amount of weight loss will help take some pressure off your feet.”
If you’re experiencing foot or ankle pain, don’t wait to give us a call at (775) 786-1600 so we can discuss your alternatives with you. We want to help keep your feet and ankles healthy for years to come!