Conditions such as bunions, corns and hammertoes may seem more annoying than dangerous, but if you continue to ignore such a problem, it could affect the way you walk which in turn could lead to knee, hip and lower back pain. “In many cases, fixing one of these foot deformities requires only a simple fix, such as splinting or padding,” says R. August Ritter III, MD, orthopedic surgeon at Saint Francis Medical Center.
Foot deformities can be developmental, or they can occur as a result of improper footwear. “When you wear a shoe that is tight and pushes your big toe against the shoe, that can cause a problem such as a corn,” says Ritter. “High-heeled shoes pose a particular problem because they squeeze the front part of the foot. When shopping for footwear, you should look for shoes that are neither tight nor loose, and that evenly distribute pressure throughout the foot.”
One group of people who experience significant foot problems are diabetics. Diabetes doubles a person’s risk of having foot problems, and about 30 percent of people older than 40 who have diabetes experience medical issues with their feet. Because diabetes damages the nervous system, a diabetic does not know when he experiences a cut, bump or bruise and cannot always treat it right away.
“Diabetics and their doctors can work very hard to prevent problems from developing by controlling the disease, watching the foot carefully and providing accommodating footwear,” says Ritter.
If foot problems do advance, surgery might be the best option. Many reconstructive surgeries in the foot are performed on an outpatient basis; however, diabetics with foot infections may need hospitalization. After surgery, you can expect to stay off your foot for a period of time. You may also need special wound care, or care for pins that are used in realignment of toes.
“I think the goal of foot and ankle reconstruction is to provide a foot that is solid and allows you to walk in a more normal fashion from day to day,” says Ritter.
For more information, call 573-331-3000.