SOURCE: Alpha Orthotics

June 18, 2009 09:15 ET

Get "In-Step" With Summer Foot Care

Health Tips for Addressing Foot Problems to Ensure a Comfortable and Active Season

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - June 18, 2009) - Summer is a time when we are relaxed and want to just let it all hang out. During this time of year, we tend to take off shoes and socks and slip feet into summer footwear including sandals, flip-flops or dare to go bare. The desire to play in the park, feel the sand between the toes or hike to catch that beautiful view causes both men and women to finally deal with medical and cosmetic foot issues they may have ignored during the winter months such as plantar fasciitis, bunions, calluses and athlete's foot. Symptoms of common foot issues and possible treatment are outlined below by Dr. Michele Kraft, member of the California State Board of Podiatric Medicine. Always consult a physician before considering treatment.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis is commonly called the "flip flop" disease by many podiatrists since wearing unsupportive shoes is a common cause. Plantar Fasciitis is a painful, inflammatory condition of the foot caused by strain to the plantar fascia that supports the arches of the foot.

Symptoms: Pain usually is felt on the underside of the heel.

Treatment: Initial treatment includes stretching of the achilles tendon and plantar fascia, especially before getting out of bed, keeping off the foot as much as possible especially for extended periods, weight loss, wearing supportive shoes, wearing arch support and heel lifts or taping. Many medical professionals recommend placing something cold, like a frozen bottle of water, under the foot and rolling it to relieve the pain. Physiotherapy that involves mobilizing restricted tissue of the planter fascia and supervised stretching are also treatment options. People with plantar fasciitis should wear supportive shoes and stay away from open-back shoes, sandals, and flip-flops.

Bunions

Hallux valgus or "bunion" is an enlargement of the inner portion of the joint at the base of the big toe. The enlargement is a misalignment of the big toe, often with inflammation of the underlying tissue.

Symptoms: A frequent symptom is pain when walking or wearing shoes. Bunions that cause pain are often associated with swelling of the soft tissues, redness, and local tenderness.

Treatment Options: Anti-inflammation medications and cold pack application can help to ease pain. A bunion splint can provide further relief. Bunion Aid a flexible hinged splint, can be worn during the day as well as at night, which helps to maintain an active lifestyle. The splint can postpone or eliminate the need for surgery. Surgical procedures can correct deformity and relieve pain leading to improved function. These procedures typically involve removing the bony growth of the bunion while realigning the big toe. Surgery is often, but not always, successful, and failure to relieve pain can result from the big toe moving back to its deviated position before the operation. Proper footwear, activity restrictions and wearing an orthotic splint like Bunion Aid after surgery can reduce the chances of surgical failure.

Calluses

A callus is a tough area of skin that has become thick and hard in response to repeated friction, pressure or other irritation. Calluses may sometimes lead to other problems, such as skin infection.

Symptoms: Hard, unsightly skin without borders. A callus may vary in color from white to gray-yellow, brown, or red. It may be painless, tender or throb or burn.

Treatment: Placement of protective covering or bandages over the sore area to decrease friction on the skin until the sore heals. Also effective is the application of moisturizing agents such as lotions or the use of a pumice stone over hard thick areas. Note that diabetic patients should not attempt to remove calluses and should seek the help of a physician.

Athlete's Foot

Tinea Pedis, or Athlete's Foot, is a skin infection caused by the ringworm fungus.

Symptoms: Itching, burning, cracking, peeling and bleeding feet.

Treatment: Keeping the feet dry and clean, wearing shoes that can breathe or using medicated powders such as Tinactin or Micatin to keep feet dry.

About Michele Kraft, DPM

Dr. Michele Kraft received her medical training at the California College of Podiatric Medicine and the Buena Park Community Hospital and practices podiatric medicine in Santa Cruz, CA.

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