5 Common Foot Problems and How To Treat Them

With most adults taking over 7,000 steps per day, it’s safe to say our feet take a beating. Yet many of us don’t stop and consider just how much stress and strain we put our feet through... until we develop a foot problem!

Let’s take a look at some of the most common foot problems we treat at the Brunswick and Sandringham Foot Clinics– and how they can be alleviated.

Bunions
A bunion (hallux valgus) is a hard lump on the joint at the base of the big toe. This deformity is commonly caused by tight, ill-fitting shoes. The constant rubbing can cause inflammation, which thickens the skin and underlying tissues next to the toe joint, making the area swollen and sore. But there are a number of treatment options including:

  • Regularly stretch and massage the toe joint, and apply ice at the end of each day.
  • Make sure your shoes have a wide and high toe area.
  • Avoid high-heeled, narrow, or pointy shoes.
  • Use padding in the toe section of your shoe to relieve pressure.
  • Wear orthotic insoles approved by your podiatrist.

If the above treatment does not provide relief, surgery to correct the deformity may be an option. See a podiatrist for a professional assessment.

Corns
A corn is a rounded patch of thickened skin. Corns have a core at their centre that can grow inward, pressing on deeper layers of tissue. This may make walking quite painful.

Corns can be caused by excessive pressure or rubbing on the skin, usually from poorly fitting shoes. Some corns, known as ‘soft corns’, can also develop in between toes that consistently rub together.

To treat corns, our team of podiatrists recommend the following options:

  • Use donut-shaped adhesive pads (available at most chemists) to relieve the pressure on the corn.
  • Apply moisturising cream to the area daily.
  • Soak your affected foot in warm water for 5 to 10 minutes daily.
  • Gently file the softened corn with a pumice stone in circular motions to remove the dead skin.
  • Wear shoes that fit well - not too loose or too tight.

If the above treatments do not ease your condition, you should consider seeing a podiatrist for further advice.

Calluses
Similar to corns, calluses are thick, hardened areas of skin that form as a result of too much rubbing or pressure.
Calluses are often found on the bottom of feet, but can also develop on the tops, sides, and heels – anywhere there is consistent friction. Biomechanical causes that result in uneven distribution of bodyweight can also aid in the development of calluses.

To help alleviate calluses, our podiatrists recommend a similar treatment as for corns. Good foot care including regular moisturising, gentle exfoliation, and regular foot soaks can all ease painful symptoms.

Don’t try and cut out the callus yourself. Cutting your feet is very dangerous, especially if you are diabetic. Don’t take risks with your feet – see a professional for safe callus removal.

Heel Pain
This very common foot condition is felt either under the heel (plantar fasciitis), or just behind it (Achilles tendinitis). Heel pain is not caused by a single incident, but is the result of repetitive pounding and stress.

Overuse (sports such as running), standing for long periods, weight gain, age, unsupportive footwear, and over-pronation are all factors that can influence the likelihood of developing heel pain.

If you are experiencing heel pain, you could try the following remedies:

  • Reduce strenuous activity for at least 6 weeks.
  • Apply an ice pack for 5 minutes, 2 to 3 times daily.
  • Consider orthotic insoles to re-align your foot.
  • Perform foot and leg exercises that gently stretch your Achilles tendon.

If your pain persists you should see a podiatrist for a biomechanical assessment.

Ingrown Toenails
Ingrown toenails are nails that have curved around and are growing into the flesh of the toe. Left unchecked, ingrown toenails can lead to considerable pain. Good foot care can lessen your symptoms:

  • Trim your toenails straight across.
  • Smooth your toenails with an emery board using downward strokes.
  • Avoid wearing tight socks, pantyhose, or shoes.
  • Soak your feet in warm water for 20 minutes every day.

If pain persists you should consider seeing a podiatrist for further advice.

When should I seek medical help?
Your feet can take a lot of punishment – but they’re not invincible. Seek medical treatment if you experience any of the following:

  • Severe pain and/or swelling near your heel.
  • Numbness or tingling in your feet or lower legs.
  • Consistent heel pain that has lasted over a week.
  • Stiffness that impedes your ability to move your foot.
  • Oozing or swelling of a foot wound, especially if accompanied by fever.

What to do next
If you are experiencing any of the foot conditions in this article, seek professional advice and treatment advice from a podiatrist. Melbourne Podiatrist has two foot clinics located at two convenient locations in Brunswick and Sandringham.

To book an appointment, click here.