Ask a Podiatrist: The Three Most Common Foot Issues and What You Can Do to Ease Pain
Our feet are the foundation of our bodies. The average American walks approximately two miles every day, and it is estimated that nearly half of Americans have one or more foot problems at any given time. The good news: most foot and ankle issues are preventable and treatable with proper care and attention.
Dr. Thurmond Lanier, a podiatrist with CaroMont Foot & Ankle, wants patients to know about the three most common foot problems he sees in his practice, and what you can do about them:
Q: What are the three most common foot concerns that bring people to your office?
Dr. Lanier: While I treat a broad range of concerns as a board-certified foot and ankle expert and surgeon, the most common conditions I see are bunions, heel pain and ankle sprains. Each can cause discomfort and pain but also hinder a person’s ability to comfortably complete routine movements and tasks. It can be so frustrating for a lot of patients to deal with the mobility limitations that often accompany these issues.
Q: For each of these conditions and injuries, how do you recommend easing discomfort at home?
Dr. Lanier: Bunions occur when the bone behind the big toe starts to shift and move toward the other foot. This creates a bump on the interior side of the foot, moving the big toe toward the second toe. This shifting in the foot will eventually become painful. Wearing wider shoes can help alleviate pressure on the bump and keep it from developing further. Additionally, orthotics can be worn to slow the progression of the bunion.
Heel pain is most often associated with plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the tissue on the bottom of the foot that supports the arch. This occurs when a person overuses or overstretches the soft tissue, often due to repetitive motion. To ease heel pain, I recommend wearing supportive shoes, stretching the foot and ankle gently and often, and reducing inflammation by taking anti-inflammatories and icing the sore area.
Ankle sprains are a very common injury to the lower extremities. They can be avoided by doing proper stretching before athletic activities and wearing appropriate shoes for whatever activity you are participating in. Mild sprains can be treated with rest, ice, elevation, compression and decreasing your activity level until your ankle feels better.
Q: What symptoms should signal a person that it is time to seek medical attention?
Dr. Lanier: Some individuals have an elevated risk for serious complications. If a patient also has redness or swelling that certainly would be a reason to seek treatment. If someone is immunocompromised with a condition such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, any changes to their feet should prompt evaluation by a specialist.
But for most people, pain is a good indicator of the need for medical attention. If you are experiencing consistent pain for more than two weeks, it is time to seek treatment. And if your pain limiting your mobility and ability to engage in normal activity, don’t wait. We are here to help get you back on your feet (literally)!
Dr. Lanier is accepting new patients and specializes in reconstructive foot and ankle surgery with expertise in ankle arthroscopy, total ankle replacement and minimally invasive surgical techniques. Make your appointment today.