Helen Pensanti, M.D.

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Foot Health

Our feet are some of the most long suffering parts of our bodies. They support hundreds of pounds--double your body weight when you walk and up to five times when you jump! They carry you around an average of 3,000 steps a day, and on top of all that they are often jammed into tight, ill-fitting shoes! So it should be no surprise that 3 out of 4 people have some kind of foot problem.

In this report we are going to review:

Five of the most common foot problems:

    Plantar fascitis is the inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is a band of connective tissue that stretches along the bottom of the foot from the heel to the toes. This part of the foot is under pressure daily, and the pressure can be exacerbated by injury, repetitive pounding from running, obesity, standing for long periods of time, and unusually high arches or flat feet (short or long plantar fascia.) When the plantar fascia is overstretched, minute tears develop usually in the area where the fascia inserts into the heel bone. These are accompanied by inflammation and tissue degeneration. An aching sensation or bruised feeling in your foot often develops.

    Doctors treat plantar fascitis with steroid injections or surgery (cutting the fascia to relieve pressure.) Reports indicate that 1 in 4 patients are told they need surgery. But experts estimate that only 1 in 100 actually NEEDS surgery. A conservative self treatment course works well for most people.

    Stretching your way to pain relief can be very effective. Even before you get out of bed in the morning, sit up, pull your flexed feet toward you until you feel a good stretch in your Achilles tendon and calves. Hold for 30 seconds, relax and repeat two more times.

    Another good stretch is to stand on a bottom stair and keep toes and balls of feet on the edge while you drop your heel to the stair below. Or rub your bare feet over a golf ball or unopened 12 oz. can. If you do these for 3 minutes twice daily this should help a lot.

    If you are still in a lot of pain, your doctor would probably prescribe Nsaid, which can be effective but can have the side effect of gastro-intestinal pain or liver or kidney damage. Instead try some natural anti-inflammatories, like feverfew, curcumin, white willow or bromelain. Icing your feet for 15-20 minutes after a long day is also helpful.

    But the most enduring treatment is to get well-fitting, cushioned shoes with good arch support. There are also devices that can be placed in shoes to increase support, usually found in drug stores or custom made by chiropractors or podiatrists.

    Most people using these techniques will find rapid relief. But don’t be afraid to see a professional if your pain persists for a long period of time.
  3. This is a fancy term for a toenail fungal infection, from which 1 in 7 Americans suffer. This usually manifests itself in thickened, yellowed toenails. Anti-fungal drugs have been linked to liver damage, so try natural solutions containing tea tree oil. Use twice daily.

  5. This common problem is caused by a ringworm fungus. Make sure you keep your feet clean and dry, change your socks during the day and freely use powders and sprays found in drugstores. These are usually very effective.

  7. These warts, found on the foot, are notoriously stubborn. They can be burned, frozen, or cut, but first try salicylic acid. This works for 75% of people. The commonly purchased item “Compound W” is a salicylic acid product. Or you could dissolve a regular aspirin with a small drop of water and apply to the wart. Cover it with a bandage and repeat twice daily until you see the desired effect.

  8. CORNS

  9. Corns are simply thick, dead skin. If the skin is on your soles they are called calluses, if they are on your toes they are called corns. Beware of caustic products that dissolve corns, especially if you are diabetic. Instead, chip away at them gradually with a pumice stone or file after bathing. At bedtime, soak your feet in warm water for 10-15 minutes, then place a piece of fresh pineapple peel or a slice of lemon with the inside touching the corn on your feet and secure in place with first aid tape. Remove in the morning and repeat for several more nights as needed.

    So there you have it, some good home remedies for foot care. Here’s wishing you good foot health, naturally!


Helen Pensanti M.D.

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