With 26 bones apiece, your feet are complex structures with lots of very small components. This complicated design means that feet are vulnerable to a wide range of conditions, injuries and abnormalities. Here are five of the most common foot conditions, as well as the symptoms that define them and the treatments that can resolve them.
- Symptoms: Bunions are foot abnormalities, characterised by a large bump that forms on the joint of the big toe. In addition to the bump itself, symptoms of bunions include tenderness around the big toe, diminished range of motion for the big toe and formation of calluses or pain while standing or walking.
- Treatment: Regularly wearing tight-fitting shoes can put pressure on the big toe joint, causing bunions to form. As such, the first line of treatment is usually wearing better-fitting shoes that will reduce pressure on the bunion and big toe. Icing the bunion can help, as well. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary.
- Symptoms: Someone is flat-footed when his or her arches are virtually non-existent. People with flat feet can stand up and feel the entirety of the soles of their feet touch the ground. Some patients experience no adverse symptoms at all. Others may feel pain in their heel or arch areas or swelling around the ankle. These symptoms are especially common after physical activity.
- Treatment: Flat-footed individuals are just people who never developed arches. This condition is relatively common and may never require any treatment. For those who do encounter pain or swelling due to their flat feet, though, more supportive shoes or orthotic arch support inserts can help.
- Symptoms: Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the tissue that links the heel bone to the toes. Symptoms include pain in the heel that is most severe during activity or in the morning, right after you get out of bed.
- Treatment: Applying ice and taking anti-inflammatory medications can help reduce inflammation and pain. Since plantar fasciitis is most common in individuals with very high arches on their feet, one of the best treatment strategies is simply wearing more supportive shoes. Regular foot stretches can help, too.
- Symptoms: Hammertoe is a deformity that results in abnormal bending of the toe joints. It can affect any toe other than the big toe and can manifest in one or both joints on each toe. Hammertoe symptoms might include pain, irritation, redness, inflammation and the formation of calluses or corns on or around the affected toes. Over time, hammertoe patients will notice their toes becoming more rigid.
- Treatment: Hammertoe is a progressive condition, meaning it will worsen over time. In most cases, surgical treatment will be necessary to correct the issue and provide comfort for the patient. In the meantime, the best management tactic is to wear shoes or custom orthotic devices that reduce pressure on the affected toes.
- Symptoms: Heel spurs are bony protrusions that form on the underside of the heel bone, between the heel and the arch. They are sometimes linked with plantar fasciitis. Symptoms, therefore, are similar to plantar fasciitis—particularly the complaint of sharp pain in the heel and/or arch when getting up in the morning. Otherwise, pain can be intermittent or even unnoticeable, perhaps cropping up during running or jogging.
- Treatment: Some cases of heel spurs have no symptoms at all and do not require much in the way of treatment. In cases where treatment is required, however, methods may include physical therapy, stretching exercises, new shoes or shoe inserts, anti-inflammatory medications, over-the-counter painkillers, rest and even surgery.
As you can see, footwear choice is a factor in the treatment of all five of the conditions listed above. At Aussie Soles, we are dedicated to designing supportive, anatomically correct footwear that fosters foot health and enables comfort even for people with common foot conditions. To learn more about how the footwear we sell might help with some of the conditions described above, contact us today.