Our feet cover approximately 110,000 miles in an average lifetime, equivalent to over four times around the Earth.
That’s a long way for our feet to carry our body weight but they are often ignored until they start to ache, swell or become painful.
Foot issues typically start with either pain, aching or swelling which could be attributed to general wear and tear of the feet, but their colour, texture and appearance may also reveal disorders that can stem from other parts of the body.
Podiatrists are often the first practitioner to diagnose disorders and ailments; sometimes symptoms of skin conditions and some conditions listed above may be detected during a foot examination.
This is an extremely painful condition where a section or splinter of nail becomes embedded in the side of the toe. This can become inflamed and septic and produce pus and bleeding. The infection can be treated but if the nail splinter is not removed, it will prevent healing and the area may become re-infected. If the ingrown section of nail is not removed, additional flesh called hypergranulation tissue can form across the nail plate which would also require removal.
Occasionally, conservative treatment is not sufficient for various reasons and a minor surgical procedure, Partial Nail Avulsion (PNA) is recommended. This can be performed here at the practice and involves the side/sides of the nail being permanently removed with a narrower nail as a result.
Ingrowing toenails occur mostly in younger people whose nail plate is thinner and the groove at the side of the nail is soft. Pressure from ill-fitting footwear including slippers, tight socks and even babygro outfits can cause a nail to penetrate skin beside the toe and make a small wound. It most commonly affects the big toenail but can occur on other toes, especially if they are longer than the big toe. An involuted nail curls into the flesh but does not penetrate into the skin and can also be very painful and inflamed.
Corns and callouses are caused by friction or pressure on the skin. They can be found on and between the toes, under the nails and on the sole of the foot. Common pressure sites are on the heel, the ball of the foot and on the ends of the toes.
Corns are hard nodules in the skin that can cause pain; soft corns can occur between the toes and cause a high degree of pain for a relatively small corn. Callouses are thickened, yellowy area of skin which can produce a burning sensation, especially after activity.
Verruca is singular, verrucae is plural and is the Latin name for a wart, hence "verrucae pedis" means warts on the foot.
The verruca is a virus which invades the skin, can be seen as round lesions or could form in a mosaic and can have a varied appearance. It may or may not contain a black spot which is a blood capillary pushed up by the verruca. On the foot, verrucae get compressed into the skin and form a hard lump due to pressure of the body's weight but warts on other parts of the body tend to be raised. The length of treatment depends on factors like the number and depth of verrucae, skin type, stress levels, immune system status, compliance etc. Although many are cleared in the first course of treatment, due to these factors, there is no guarantee that this can always be the case.
Very special care needs to be taken by people with diabetes as it can affect the nerves and blood supply to the feet. In some cases this can lead to serious complications.
Higher than normal blood glucose levels can damage the nerve endings causing loss of sensation, affecting the ability to feel pressure, pain and heat. This is known as peripheral neuropathy. Pain alerts us to danger and if this sensation is lost, the feet can easily get damaged. Your blood supply and ability to feel pressure, sensation, hot and cold can be checked and monitored by a Podiatrist so it is important once diagnosed that you have an annual diabetic foot assessment. Progress of the condition is gradual and you will be able to reduce the risk of problems occurring. If left unchecked, painful peripheral neuropathy can then develop and if the blood supply is compromised, any cut or scratch would be difficult to heal and the area could become ulcerated.
Now this is the worrying bit - if you have been diagnosed with diabetes, it is possible you have a 15 times increased risk of having a foot or limb amputation. This need not be the case and the risk can be greatly reduced if your blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels are under good control, you have regular diabetic foot assessments and if you check your feet regularly. Always speak to your health professional if you notice any changes in your feet.
Athletes Foot is a term used for fungal infections of the foot.
They are caused by weakening of the natural protective flora of the skin. The skin is covered with a layer of many different organisms, living together in mutual harmony. When the skin becomes too wet due to excessive sweating or not being able to dry out the feet, some of these organisms die. Other fungi which are normally present on the skin in small quantities then multiply, creating an imbalance and cause a fungal infection to develop.
Feet lose about 1/2 pint of sweat over a period of about 24 hours. This must happen in order to keep the sole of the foot supple as it has no oil-producing glands. If excessive sweat on the skin is unable to disperse, bacteria on the skin will break it down, resulting in offensive odours.
All these conditions and many more can be treated here at the practice by Michael, who will discuss the best kind of treatment and course of action for each individual. If you have a problem with your feet, give us a call on 01895 622663 to make an appointment.
We will work together in order for your treatment to have the best possible outcome as quickly as possible, however it is important to listen to and act upon advice given.