How to handle common foot problems – nail fungus, athlete’s foot and heel cracks

At some time in your life, you will likely come across one or more of the foot problems detailed below. Here are some ways of dealing with these issues:

Nail fungus:

These thickened and yellow nails are difficult to treat, mostly because the typical topical treatments do not get to the right depth of the fungal organisms. Oral medications are effective, though they can take many months and lead to side effects and liver problems. A chiropodist will assess the level of damage and recommend options to resolve the problem for good. Nail gels are very effective and topical treatments are most effective when the chiropodist first files the nail down to the right level for the topical agent to work.

Athlete’s foot:

This usually occurs between the toes, but can be found on other parts of the foot as well. It can look like dry skin, but moisturizers do not rid this problem. Signs of fungus include dry, itchy, scaling skin, redness and even blistering. Fungal organisms thrive in dark and moist environments such as between the toes, so ensure the area is kept dry and change your socks regularly as you perspire. It is also important to avoid walking barefoot in public areas, especially showers and locker rooms. If these self-care techniques are not working, visit your chiropodist for further care and guidance.

Heel cracks:

There are many skin creams on the market that are touted to resolve heel cracks and fissures. The reason they do not work is that the dead and calloused skin needs to be removed first and effectively, so the skin can come together to heal. By preparing the skin and utilizing strapping, the skin fissures adhere and heal. Besides dry skin and prolonged standing, many do not realize that foot wear is also a major contributing factor in the development of heel fissures, such as open back and thin-soled foot wear. A chiropodist is your best choice for the best solution.

To arrange an assessment, contact Ontario Foot & Orthotics at 905-878-6479 in Milton. You can also visit us at www.ontariofoot.ca.

Top tips for foot care for runners

The most common foot problems associated with jogging or running are blisters, corns, calluses, athlete’s foot, shin splints, Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis. Below are some important prevention-minded foot care tips for runners.

Top tips for foot care for runners:

  • Keep your feet and shoes powdered, this will absorb moisture and reduce friction.
  • Wear clean socks every time you run.
  • Make sure your shoes fit properly. Bring your insert when shopping and make sure it fits the shoe you are considering purchasing.
  • Let your body be your guide so you don’t strain your feet or joints; don’t try to run through pain.
  • Shoes should provide cushioning for shock absorption.
  • Prevent Achilles tendonitis by always stretching your lower leg muscles before and after every workout.
  • Wear shoes made out of breathable materials such as canvas or leather.

It is inevitable for runners to get injured, so have your chiropodist assess your feet to guide you to choose the right foot care regimen, give you tips on preventing injuries and guide you to help handle foot-related injuries.

To arrange an assessment, contact Ontario Foot and Orthotics at 519-623-3000 in Cambridge or 905-878-6479 in Milton. Visit us online at www.ontariofoot.ca.

Ingrown nails – solutions you need to know

An ingrown nail usually affects the big toe, causing redness, warmth and swelling, although it can also occur in other toes as well. This condition occurs when your nail grows into your skin tissue, irritating and inflaming the skin and possibly opening the door to infection. As the nail cuts into your skin, it can irritate the nerves and can trigger shooting pains. Even though it may seem like a small issue, it can really affect your day-to-day mobility, activities and enjoyment.

Causes and associations:

You may not realize that poor nail trimming technique and tight or narrow-fitting shoes are the most frequent causes of ingrown nails. When caring for your nails, it is important to cut straight across the nail and avoid leaving a curve at the side edges of the nail. Cut your nails frequently and leave some nail to overhang slightly; that is, if they are too short or too long, they can tend to grow inward. When choosing your foot wear, make sure there is enough room in the toe area.

There are many other factors that predispose you to develop an ingrown nail: repeated foot trauma or injuries, excessive foot sweating, fungal nail or other foot problems, diabetes, obesity and arthritis.

Ingrown nail treatment options: 

Surgery can be avoided with proper ongoing care. A chiropodist has the expertise to guide you for the treatment that best suits the situation. If your nail is mildly ingrown, the chiropodist can trim the nail and lift the free edge gently and support it with sterile cotton until the swelling reduces.

Alternatively, for more advanced situations, a minor surgery can be done to remove part of, or the entire nail. Women often appreciate partial nail removal, to allow them to keep the nail. Chiropodists are experts at these procedures and can assure the problem does not recur.

To arrange an assessment, contact Ontario Foot & Orthotics at one of our two locations: 519-623-3000 in Cambridge or 905-878-6479 in Milton. You can also visit us at www.ontariofoot.ca.

Over-the-counter shoe inserts vs. custom prescription orthotics

When you have discomfort in your feet, it’s only natural to look for solutions. Some will try over-the-counter (OTC) foot inserts to try and get relief, while others seek professional advice from a foot care specialist and get a custom solution, prescription orthotics.

A store bought insert/insole usually provides cushioning, or has pre-moulded arch support and can assist in correcting foot structure. However, despite relieving mild to moderate discomforts, such inserts can increase foot problems as they wear down, so it is important to replace them regularly. What has also been commonly found is that each of your feet can be unique from each other, so each may have different support requirements. So how is it possible that a standard OTC foot insert solves different problems uniquely appearing in each foot? Keep in mind that if there is inadequate support, other problems can develop.

The best route to take is to see your registered foot care specialist. A chiropodist will assess the needs of each of your feet and recommend a custom solution that also suits your lifestyle, work requirements and the type of exercise that you enjoy the most. Your chiropodist may recommend either non-custom inserts, or prescription orthotics. It would depend on your unique needs and your budget. Prescription foot orthotics are covered by most extended health insurance benefit plans and best solve your foot problem for a long term solution.

In addition to obtaining the proper supportive orthotics, your chiropodist will also make preventive suggestions to optimize your foot health. This may include advice on which style of shoe best fits your feet, foot care instructions, sports medicine and much more.

For more information, or to arrange an assessment, contact Ontario Foot and Orthotics at 519-623-3000 in Cambridge or 905-878-6479 in Milton. Visit us at www.ontariofoot.ca.

Take action against bunions on your feet, avoid future pain

It happened to your mother and now it’s happening to you…bunions. A bunion is a condition that affects the bones and joints of the great toe. It appears as a bony prominence on the inside margin of your forefoot, which can get red, swollen and painful. It stands out in the painful grimace on your face by the end of the work day. Or it stands out in the way you alter your walking style to reduce the discomfort felt in your foot. It also stands out in how you avoid standing for too long, or avoid going to the mall, since there’s so much walking at the mall.

It’s a common problem; roughly thirty percent of the population suffers from bunions. Bunions arise due to abnormal foot function, leading to a gradual dislocation of the joint. They can also relate to heredity, different forms of arthritis, narrow-toed shoes and high heels and other foot-related problems. Bunions can also occur on the small toe side, commonly called bunionettes. Either way, they often worsen and may require surgery, unless you take action.

Simple ways to reduce the pain is by applying a cold pack to the area a few times a day, though many resort to pain medications. Choosing shoes with heels less than two inches high helps, as well as wider fitting shoes, though any shoe or slipper lacking proper support can aggravate bunions. The best course of action to resolve the problem that is causing the deformation is to visit your foot care specialist. A qualified chiropodist will assess your particular situation and make corrective suggestions. Some common suggestions from a chiropodist include proper fitting footwear to alleviate pressure, bunion shield pads, or prescription orthotics, which stabilizes the foot and minimizes stresses on the affected joints.

To arrange an assessment, contact Ontario Foot and Orthotics at 905-878-6479 in Milton. Visit us online at www.ontariofoot.ca.

Understanding and dealing with a hammertoe on your foot

A hammertoe is a foot condition affecting the second, third, or fourth toes. In this condition, the toe is bent at the middle joint, causing it to resemble a hammer. The toe buckles due to abnormal contraction, from a partial or complete dislocation of one of the joints of the toe.

It is common that people who suffer from a hammertoe also develop painful corns on the top of the affected toe, where it rubs against the inside of the shoe. This pain may be resolved by adding extra cushioning, regularly trimming down the corn, or by choosing roomier shoes.

A hammertoe is caused by foot imbalances and heredity factors. Certainly wearing high heels aggravates the hammertoe since heels accentuate the contracted position of the hammertoe. Tight-fitting stockings can also aggravate the condition.

Your chiropodist will assess your feet and determine the cause of the hammertoe and make useful suggestions. Some suggestions may include making silicone toe pads which can reduce pressure, or using a custom orthotic to better support your foot, which will also slow down the buckling process in a hammertoe. If the hammertoe is caught early enough, the above conservative chiropody care is sufficient. However, if it is allowed to progress, then there will be more pain, calluses, inflammation, possibly infection and alteration of the bone structure. In these cases, surgery may be required.

For more information, or to arrange an assessment, contact Ontario Foot and Orthotics at 519-623-3000 in Cambridge or 905-878-6479 in Milton. Visit us online at www.ontariofoot.ca.