Podiatry is the field of medicine that specialises in diagnosing, treating, preventing, and managing injuries, diseases, and defects of our feet. So any issues with one’s feet should be checked out at a podiatry clinic by a podiatrist (a doctor of podiatric medicine). Physiotherapists are also able to help with some podiatric issues, specifically those that involve stiffness, mobility issues, and even defects such as flat feet/fallen arches. In some cases, podiatrist and physiotherapists can even work together to produce the best results.
However, you don’t have to be a podiatrist or physiotherapist to know that there are a lot of illnesses and conditions that affect our feet. Podiatric conditions could be caused by genetics, footwear with poor support, diabetes, ageing, obesity, and hygiene. Podiatric issues and conditions can range from uncomfortable, to troublesome, and ultimately debilitating. Having an idea of the common podiatric conditions can help you avoid them, as well as make you aware if something’s wrong with your feet that warrants the need to visit a podiatry clinic or physiotherapy centre.
Athlete’s foot or “tinea pedis” is one of the most common foot conditions caused by a fungus that thrives in a moist and dark environment such as between toes. This can cause skin inflammation paired with a scaly rash that could cause a lot of discomfort, pain, and itching.
Cause. Contrary to popular belief, athlete’s foot isn’t caused only by shoes damp from sweat or water (where the fungus can grow and spread). Most of the time, those with athlete’s foot had their bare feet exposed to fungus found in gym or pool floors, the shower, and any warm and damp place where people often walk barefoot.
Management. To avoid athlete’s foot, you should always keep your feet clean and dry, and use a separate (feet-only) towel when drying them off. Athlete’s foot is quite common, and there are many antifungal remedies available for those with athlete’s foot.
Bunions are feet abnormalities wherein the big toe joints are misaligned and are swollen and tender. As such, bunions cause the big toe to turn inwards which can be painful to the point that it can be debilitating.
Cause. Bunions are often caused by tight/narrow shoes and could also be hereditary. Conditions such as polio and/or rheumatoid arthritis could also contribute or increase the risk of developing bunions.
Management. Bunions are often treated through surgery if less invasive options such as wearing proper supportive/corrective footwear and/or undergoing physiotherapy treatments aren’t successful.
These occur when the toenails start to grow and dig into the skin. This condition could be uncomfortable, and when left untreated, could cause immense pain and limit mobility.
Cause. Ingrown toenails are often caused by improper nail trimming, tight or poor footwear, injuries, fungal infections, or genetics.
Management. Most of the time, ingrown toenails can be avoided by proper nail trimming and wearing appropriate footwear. But for severe cases, a podiatrist or orthopaedic surgeon could remove part of the toenail and prescribe medication to manage the infection.
You should always keep your feet healthy, they don’t only support your weight and balance, but they allow you to go where you need to be. So, if you’re suffering from any of these conditions, or even suspect that you’re afflicted with one of these conditions, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your local podiatry clinic and have them treated before they get worse. Our feet may be one of the most resilient and hard-working body parts, so don’t take them for granted!