Our feet mean so much more to us than we realize. They bear the brunt of our weight, are instrumental in keeping us balanced, and help us get around.
How do they accomplish all of this? Well, each foot has a medley of tendons, muscles, ligaments, and, not to mention, twenty-six bones and thirty-three joints. In essence, feet have an important job when it comes to our comfort and well-being.
Unfortunately, as we become older, the likelihood of foot problems tends to increase. Years of stress and sometimes even abuse can take a toll on this pivotal body part.
What are some troubles that occur? Here are a few.
- Fungal Infections. Fungal infections may present themselves in the form of dry, patchy spots, blistering, red areas, itchiness, and other unsightly or uncomfortable manifestations. Feet are susceptible to this type of condition because they spend so much time enclosed. Fungus typically needs moisture to grow, so sweaty, warm shoes provide an optimal environment. If you believe you have a fungal infection, go toe to toe with the issue and see your doctor; it’s very important to stop this problem before it spreads.
- Ingrown toenails. Ingrown toenails are relatively common. The situation occurs when the periphery of a nail grows under the skin. As this happens, the toenail becomes increasingly more difficult to remove. Naturally, the affected toe is often painful. Don’t drag your feet on this one, it is best to see a podiatrist as soon as you notice the condition; he/she will be better able to cut the nail with minimal damage. If you take matters into your own hands, you could end up injuring the surrounding skin (and infection might set in).
- Corns and calluses. Corns and calluses are thickening tissue. This takes place when toe joints or other parts of the feet consistently rub against something (in this case, footwear). Corns and calluses may or may not be painful. A podiatrist or other medical professional educated in foot care can shave the area so it becomes smoother. Even so, if the underlying problem causing the friction is not addressed, the condition may recur. Sometimes fancy footwork, like shoe orthotics, can help.
- Edema. Edema is fluid retention. This may happen in different parts of the body but often occurs in the feet, ankles, and lower legs. When the feet are affected, shoes may feel too small or could become difficult to wear. The reasons for edema are varied and could include too much salt in the diet, diuretic use, injury, varicose veins, and even heart, liver, and kidney problems. Because of this, see your doctor if your feet are swelling. Once the cause and treatment plan have been determined, then supplemental remedies, like limiting salt use, elevating the feet, and wearing supportive stockings, may be wise.
Next week we will look at another common foot problem that affects a fair number of seniors: bunions. But until then, put your best foot forward and enjoy the summer!