Q: What is Podiatry?
A: Podiatry deals exclusively with conditions affecting the human foot and postural conditions throughout the lower limb and spine resulting from faulty mechanics of the foot. Podiatrists offer a professional diagnosis and treatments for foot, ankle and leg related problems. Podiatrists are highly qualified health professionals requiring a degree in Bachelor of Science BSc(Pod), BApplSc(Pod) or Dipl(Pod) and to practice must register with the Podiatrist Registration Board of W.A. The podiatrists at The Foot Clinic are also members of the Australian Podiatry Association (W.A.).
Q: I’ve heard feet have the most bones of any part of the body. Is it true?
A: Yes it is. The feet have a quarter of the bones in the body (a total of 52).
Q: How do I get rid of smelly feet?
A: The feet have over 250,000 sweat glands each and produce about a cup (500 millilitres) of sweat daily. Excessive perspiration combined with bacteria can cause offensive foot odour. Wearing nylon socks can exacerbate the problem – it is like putting a plastic bag over the feet. Wearing wool or cotton socks is recommended.
Q: What are bunions? What can be done?
A: Bunions are a foot deformity where the big toe joint of the foot is distorted, leading to the toe pointing inwards and the bone protruding. The joint is easily inflamed by pressure and can be very painful. Their formation is largely genetic and can be exacerbated by shoes that are too tight. A podiatrist can offer advice on how to relieve pain and sometimes surgical correction may be required.
Q: What are flat feet? What are fallen arches?
A: These are terms used to describe lowering of the long inner arch of the foot. For a long time it was thought to be a sign of a poorly developed or structured foot, however in recent years it has been found to be no more prone to injury or soreness than any other foot structure. It is now felt that it is not necessarily how high or flat your arches are but how you walk with your feet and how they move. Podiatrists can assess this movement. If your feet move abnormally whilst you are walking or standing this can make you more prone to injuries and foot soreness. This can be treated.
Q: I spend a lot of time standing on concrete. Is this harmful to my feet?
A: People who spend a lot of time on concrete tend to be more prone to heel and forefoot pain and tend to develop more callouses and corns on the high pressure areas of the foot. Some suggestions to reduce these effects include:
- Use rubber matting to cushion the ground
- Wear shoes which have softer soles and innersoles
- Wear more supportive shoes, preferably lace ups, to reduce the pressure points of the feet
- Use arch supports in your shoes to help distribute weight over a larger surface area of your foot, so that weight is not just focused on the heel and forefoot.
- Try to sit when possible.
Q: Why are high heels so bad for you?
A: High heels place your feet into unnatural positions. The raised heel has affects not just on the foot but also on the posture of the entire body. In order for your body to remain balanced your posture alters significantly and can place stresses on other body areas, particularly the back and neck. The greater pressure on the forefoot can give rise to callouses and the toe of the shoe may cause significant pressure on the toes causing deformities such as bunions, claw toes, corns and nail thickening. Try to limit the amount of time in high heels to special occasions, and try to alternate your shoes from one day to the next.
Q: How do you get ingrown toenails?
A: Ingrown toenails occur generally from one of three reasons; poor cutting technique, abnormal nail shape and poor footwear. The majority of ingrown toenails are a result of poor cutting technique. Nails should not be cut down at the corners, otherwise a spike may be left which can embed itself into, or irritate the flesh next to the nail. Some people simply have abnormal nail shapes and are prone to ingrown toenails regardless of how they cut their nails. Minor nail surgery can permanently cure this painful problem. Ill fitting footwear can cause the toe to rub against the shoe in a way which makes the wearer more prone to ingrown toenails. A visit to a podiatrists can go a long way to treating this common problem.
Q: I’ve got diabetes and have been told to regularly see a podiatrist. Why?
A: National diabetes guidelines recommend podiatric assessment at least every 6-12 months, as people with diabetes are at a greater risk of developing foot problems than the average person. Because the feet are the furthest from the heart, they are usually the first to have circulatory problems. People with diabetes are more likely to experience poor blood circulation so nerve degeneration in their legs and feet is more likely to occur. This may cause a decreased ability to fight infections, loss of sensation which can lead to unknowing injury and delay in healing. For these reasons it’s important that people with diabetes check their feet daily for cuts, blisters, bruises or signs of injury they may not have felt happening. It’s also important they wear shoes which protect feet from injury and which do not rub.