Protecting Your Feet for the Long Run

Foot damage can be acute or chronic. Injuries are acute and dealt with immediately because of pain and the altering of mobility. This would include injuries such as a sprained ankle, a laceration or even a broken bone in the foot. However, chronic foot damage worsens over time and could lead to significant disability later in life. Taking a proactive stance toward foot health today can prevent disability in the future.

Hammer Toes

Those sleek, sexy toes in the prime of life can turn into gnarled ones that are permanently bent out of proper shape in just a few short years. The culprit is very often footwear that fits poorly. Keep in mind that sore feet while wearing or after removing footwear is a sign that the footwear does not fit properly. Stiletto heels can contribute to formation ofhammer toes, but even quality athletic shoes and boots can lead to them too. Proper fit is everything. Since everyone’s feet are different as far as genetics, gait and medical considerations go, it is important to discuss the avoidance of hammer toes with a podiatrist.

Toenail Fungus

Fungus can invade fingernails or toenails. It is almost always painless and chronic. The medical name for the condition is dermatophytic onychomycosis, and it is just fungus that ruins the look and stability of toenails. It can worsen to cause inflammation of surrounding tissues. The nails slowly thicken and become discolored. They usually turn a yellowish color with white blotches. The condition is very unsightly, making sufferers hesitant to reveal their toes.

Toenail fungus can be treated with topical or oral medications. Oral medications have a much higher likelihood of serious side effects. Topical treatments take many months to see an improvement in the condition, and they must be diligently applied daily. Taking action at the first sign of toenail fungus is very helpful. Asking one’s doctor to be on the lookout for the condition is also helpful. Be warned that certain heart, lung, circulatory and infectious conditions can also cause thickened discolored toenails.

Ingrown Toenails

Most people in the industrialized world wear shoes. They are both functional and fashionable. The problem is when the fashionable part interferes with the proper function. Ingrown toenails are not typically found in cultures where people go barefoot most of the time. Shoes that fit poorly along with socks and hosiery that put pressure on the toenails are the culprits. Improperly trimmed toenails can exacerbate the risk of getting ingrown toenails.

A trip to the podiatrist for an examination and discussion of ingrown toenails is very helpful. For those who have an ingrown toenail with the recommendation of total removal of nail, ask for a second opinion. Aggressive therapy may resolve the condition without permanent loss of the nail. Removal of the nail and matrix makes it so the toenail cannot grow back, but aggressive therapy requires diligence and cooperation from the ingrown toenail sufferer. It is easier to just remove the nail. For those who do not want to lose a toenail, there may be another option. It is important to discuss all options with a medical professional and possibly get a second opinion.

Feet are the vehicle of the body. When they are hurting, the whole body suffers. Since they spend their days hidden inside shoes, it is important to have them examined on a regular basis. Any change in how they look should be investigated immediately, especially if diabetes is a health factor. Feet can be kept healthy and looking good if proactive steps are taken today to protect them for the long run.

Eric Vainer is the Chairman of Dear Feet and the Director of Pala Community Care. Vainer is an expert on corporate culture and a heralded entrepreneur from New York.

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