Feet are something most people take for granted until they have a problem. Whether it is pain from an injury, condition, or illness, taking proper care of the feet is essential to being active. Since everyone is slightly different, the best way to treat foot problems is to visit a podiatrist. Here are five common foot problems and how to treat them.

1. Flat Foot

This condition is caused when there is no arch in the middle of the foot. This means the whole sole of the foot touches the ground, even rotating inward in some cases. Having the feet in this position can cause pain in the feet, ankles, calves, knees, and even hips and lower back.

Treatment

The best way to treat flat foot is to give the feet more arch support. Some find the best support in shoes made especially for this problem or using orthotics in their shoes. Proper exercise, stretching, and ankle braces can all help control pain too.

2. Athletes Foot

A common condition in athletes and non-athletes alike, athlete’s foot is caused by a contagious fungus. It causes the skin to become inflamed with a white, scaly rash on a red base. Typical symptoms include itching, burning, peeling, and a slight odor.

Treatment

The most common recommended treatment is using an antifungal cream or spray that can be purchased over-the-counter. If this doesn’t work, there are prescription-strength medications you can get from a doctor. Another recommended treatment is to soak feet in salt or vinegar water to help dry out the blisters. For preventing this problem, keep the toes and feet clean and dry, changing socks regularly.

3. Bunion

A crooked joint on the side of the big toe at the base is a bunion. This is often painful, especially when wearing shoes. Finding the reason for the bunion is an important step in treatment. Common causes are wearing shoes that are too narrow, arthritis, heredity, trauma, and even congenital deformities.

Treatment

Depending on the cause and severity of the bunion, conservative treatments may be recommended such as switching shoes, pain-relieving medication, and other small adjustments to routine. For many, the best or final treatment is surgery.

4. Hammer Toe

The best way to describe a hammer toe is a bend in the second, third, or fourth toe that makes it hit down like a hammer. This odd angle comes from a bend in the middle of the toe joint, causing the toe to point at an odd angle. The main cause of hammer toe is from shoes that don’t fit well, causing the toe to become fixed in a bent position.

Treatment

If you catch a hammer toe early enough, wearing better shoes can help. If it progresses too much, surgery is often required to correct the toe’s position.

5. Plantar Fasciitis

The tissue, or fascia, between the foot and heel of the foot can become inflamed and cause heel pain, also known as plantar fasciitis. Repeatedly stressing or hitting the heel can cause irritation too.

Treatment

Most people can successfully treat this condition at home. Resting, applying ice, and taking an anti-inflammatory can help relieve symptoms. To prevent this, resting and stretching the feet and calves can help.

There are many common problems with feet that can be treated with a few minor tweaks to footwear and movements. Foot and ankle care is easier to recommend when caught early. Ignoring or pushing through pain can cause more damage. If you are experiencing problems and would like recommendations for foot care, call one of our experienced podiatry offices today.