Many people with bunions suffer from discomfort and pain from the constant irritation, rubbing, and friction of the enlargement against shoes. The skin over the toe becomes red and tender. Because this joint flexes with every step, the bigger the bunion gets, the more it hurts to walk. Over time, bursitis or arthritis may set in, the skin on the bottom of the foot may become thicker, and everyday walking may become difficult—all contributing to chronic pain.
Wearing shoes that are too tight is the leading cause of bunions. Bunions are not hereditary, but they do tend to run in families, usually because of a faulty foot structure.
Foot injuries, neuromuscular problems, flat feet, and pronated feet can contribute to their formation. It is estimated that bunions occur in 33 percent of the population in Western countries.
Treatment for Bunions
Because they are bone deformities, bunions do not resolve by themselves. The goal for bunion treatment is twofold: first, to relieve the pressure and pain caused by irritations, and second to stop any progressive growth of the enlargement.
Commonly used methods for reducing pressure and pain caused by bunions include:
Protective padding, often made from felt material, to eliminate the friction against shoes and help alleviate inflammation and skin problems.
Removal of corns and calluses on the foot.
Changing to carefully fitted footwear designed to accommodate the bunion and not contribute toward its growth.
Orthotic devices—both over-the-counter and custom made—to help stabilize the joint and place the foot in the correct position for walking and standing.
Exercises to maintain joint mobility and prevent stiffness or arthritis.
Splints for nighttime wear to help the toes and joint align properly. This is often recommended for adolescents with bunions, because their bone development may still be adaptable.
Depending on the size of the enlargement, misalignment of the toe, and pain experienced, conservative treatments may not be adequate to prevent progressive damage from bunions. In these cases, bunion surgery, known as a bunionectomy, may be advised to remove the bunion and realign the toe.
If you have any foot problems, contact The Podiatrist.
You know we expect an awful lot from our feet. We walk, run and jump on them. We cram them into socks and shoes. We use them to stand a little taller. We subject them to sand, rocks and heaven knows what hazards they endure while walking barefoot in our homes. Then we complain bitterly when they hurt. Makes sense to me.
Want to talk about foot pain? Talk about an ingrown toenail. Also known as onychocryptosis or unguis incarnatus (I dare you to pronounce those words) an ingrown toenail occurs when a sharp corner of the toenail digs into the skin at the end or side of the toe. Although it can happen to any toe, it’s most likely to be your big toe.
An ingrown toenail can be the result of trauma, such as stubbing your toe, having an object fall on your toe, or engaging in activities that involve repeated pressure on the toes, such as kicking or running.
The most common cause of ingrown toenails is incorrect trimming. Cutting your nails too short encourages the skin next to the nail to fold over the nail. Another cause of ingrown toenails is wearing shoes that are tight or short. Certain nail conditions are often associated with ingrown toenails. For example, if you have had a toenail fungal infection or if you have lost a nail through trauma, you are at greater risk for developing an ingrown toenail.
Treatment of Ingrown Toenails
If you don’t have an infection or any medical conditions that may affect your healing, you can soak your foot in room-temperature water with Epsom salts, and gently massage the side of the nail fold to help irrigate the area.
Avoid attempting “bathroom surgery.” Repeated cutting of the nail can cause the condition to worsen over time. If your symptoms fail to improve, make an appointment with The Podiatrist.
Home treatment is strongly discouraged if you suspect you have an infection, or if you have a medical condition that puts your feet at high risk, for example diabetes, nerve damage in the foot, or poor circulation.
Preventing Ingrown Toenails
Many cases of ingrown toenails may be prevented by following these two important tips:
•Trim your nails properly. Cut your toenails in a fairly straight line, and don’t cut them too short. You should be able to get your fingernail under the sides and end of the nail.
•Avoid poorly-fitting shoes. Don’t wear shoes that are short or tight in the toe box. Also avoid shoes that are loose, because they too cause pressure on the toes, especially when you run or walk briskly.
Myth Busting – Ingrown Toenails!
Myth: Cutting a “V” in the nail will reduce the tendency for the nail to curve downward.
Truth: Cutting a “V” does not affect the growth of the toenail. New nail growth occurs from the nail bed and will continue to grow in whatever shape the nail bed is in.
Myth: Repeated trimming of the nail borders is a good way to treat ingrown toenails.
Truth: Repeated nail trimming fails to correct future nail growth and can make the condition worse.
Myth: Cotton placed under the nail will relieve the pain.
Truth: Cotton placed under the nail can be harmful. It can easily harbour bacteria and encourage infection.
Myth: You can buy effective ingrown toenail treatments at the Pharmacy or Chemist.
Truth: Over-the-counter topical medications may mask the pain, but they fail to address the underlying problem.
Get started on resolving your foot problem today.
Visit The Podiatrist for all your foot care needs
These days, the vast majority of people are working to improve some aspect of their overall health. Popular resolutions can range from increased exercise and healthier eating habits to quitting smoking or simply taking a daily multivitamin; but amidst all these other goals, proper foot care often falls by the wayside. Common foor problems such as foot pain, ingrown nails, athlete’s foot or bunions, are all too often neglected at the outset – and subsequently permitted to progress to the point where professional treatment is required to reverse the problem. In most cases, improved preventative care is all it takes to keep these conditions at bay. However, some conditions may require professional treatment or even surgery: and before attempting to self-diagnose or self-treat any foot injury, pain or infection, it is important to consult The Podiatrist to ensure proper diagnosis and a safe solution for lasting health.
The following guidelines can help individuals keep their feet healthy and happy all year long – and make it easier for them to detect early symptoms and warning signs in order to seek prompt and effective podiatric treatment:
- Ingrown Nails – Ingrown toenails can develop easily and without warning if nails are trimmed incorrectly or constricted in ill-fitting shoes. Left untreated, they can result in painful infections. Prevent ingrown toenails by cutting nails straight across and rounding the edges with a clean file — and take care to prioritize proper trimming and sanitation techniques when frequenting nail salons to reduce the risk of infection.
- Nail Fungus – Toenail fungus, or onychomycosis, is a common ailment that is particularly likely to affect athletes, elderly individuals and anyone with a genetic history of the disease. Fungus can start in a tiny portion of the nail and spread over time to the full nail, so frequent inspections (after bathing or while grooming, for example) are an essential preventative step. Take steps to avoid toenail fungus by keeping feet dry and clean, changing socks regularly and wearing shoes in public areas. For those already with nail fungus, consider advanced laser therapy for drug-free, long-lasting eradication of fungus and unsightly symptoms.
- Bunions – Despite popular belief correlating bunions and badly-fitting shoes (such as high heels, flats and flip-flops), most bunions are in fact the result of inherited structural defects and have little relation to one’s footwear. That being said, shoes that lack the proper support may well exacerbate the pain and swelling symptomatic of bunions. Individuals suffering from continous foot painvisible swelling on the big toe joint or restricted motion of the foot should consult a podiatrist and consider the benefits of bunion surgery: because bunions are a progressive disorder, only surgery will reverse painful symptoms and allow patients to return to their normal activities in comfort.
Don’t wait to begin taking better care of your feet: commit to a better preventative care routine today, and consider visiting The Podiatrist for a consultation.
Q: What causes flat feet? Is it a common condition?
A: Flat feet are a common condition, estimated to occur in approximately 20 to 30 percent of the population. There are many reasons why an individual may have a flat-foot condition.
First, there may be a rare congenital defect, which is present at birth, such as vertical talus, which manifests as a rigid rocker-bottom flat foot. But, generally, most infants and toddlers do have flat feet because the arch structure has not yet developed. The development of the arch normally occurs during early childhood after 3 years of age.
In the 10- to 14-year-old range, a cause may be a condition called tarsal coalition. This is an abnormal connection between two bones in the foot which leads to a painful, spasticity (stiffness) of the peroneal tendon.
As we age, there are many reasons why an individual may develop a flattening of the arch, which is known as an acquired flat foot. These causes are developmental and include:
- Connective tissue disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
- Endocrine disorders such as diabetes mellitus.
- Tight Achilles tendon.
- Dysfunction of the posterior tibial tendon; when the tendon on the inside of the ankle loses its functionality.
Finally, the hereditary or genetic predisposition to a flat foot is also a possible cause.
Q: What symptoms might someone with flat feet experience?
A: Symptoms are varied and depend upon the cause of the flat foot, the individual’s activity level and the type of footwear that is worn. An individual may present to the office with heel or arch pain (plantar fasciitis), Achilles tendinitis, pain in the subtalar joint or ankle discomfort. Patients will often have several symptomatic areas, have difficulty with exercise, and may even have knee, hip or back pain.
Q: When should someone with flat feet see a Podiatrist?
A: Typically a patient will not seek professional treatment unless they are symptomatic, except for those times when a parent may be concerned with their child’s foot structure or function. The question arises: If someone has a flat foot will they be symptomatic or develop problems later in life? The answer to this is, not everyone will develop issues later on. With that being said, medical treatment should be sought if one is symptomatic with pain or if the flat foot condition is severe (a significant rolling inward of the foot and ankle during walking).
Additionally, if one has noticed a change in their foot structure such as a sudden collapse of the arch or has a medical condition with decreased sensation
to their feet (such as in diabetes mellitus), there are sufficient studies that show the initial evaluation and periodic follow-ups with a podiatrist may help
prevent further complications.
Q: What are some easy solutions that people can try?
A: Wearing well structured shoes and sandals that provide adequate support to the arch structure of the foot. It is important to understand that one size does not fit all. Some flat foot cases may require custom-made orthotics, an ankle/foot brace, special shoes and in extreme cases, surgery.
Q: When is surgery necessary for flat feet?
A: Surgery is an alternative when conservative measures have not provided a satisfactory relief from pain and discomfort. Additionally, patients who are at risk for chronic breakdown or ulcerations on the bottom of their feet due to the complete loss of the arch structure are good candidates for surgical intervention to prevent further complications. For the most part, however, conservative and non-surgical treatment plans will be effective in the majority of cases.