Doc Talk: Be careful of how you treat your feet
People don’t often think about how much pressure they put on their feet until they start hurting or get injured. But doctors say overuse injuries in feet are extremely common, and it’s something to which people should pay more attention.
The incorrect assumption is that because feet are smaller parts of the body, they’re safe from getting injured, but doctors point out they are delicate and complex. With 28 bones and lots of tendons and ligaments, doctors say you have to be careful with how you treat your feet.
Even those who don’t consider themselves to be particularly active are still on their feet a lot.
“It’s something that could happen in the very young athlete that’s let’s say playing five soccer games in a day or it could actually be a little old lady that’s working a church bazaar,” said Holy Spirit Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Michael Werner.
That’s why orthopedic surgeon Dr. Michael Werner says most people come into his office with a foot injury but aren’t sure how they got it.
“It’s more their activity has led to pain that started when they can’t really put their finger on when,” said Dr. Werner.
That’s why he starts by getting a history from them and doing a physical exam testing their range of motion and strength. Then comes X-rays. Often times, stress fractures in the feet are what’s causing pain.
“Ignoring foot pain, especially if it’s a stress fracture, can lead to chronic foot pain,” said Dr. Werner.
That’s when Dr. Werner says he checks Vitamin D levels. He says Vitamin D helps with the healing process for all things bone-related and most people don’t realize they’re Vitamin D and calcium-deficient.
Stress fractures are usually treated with a boot that needs to be kept on the foot for six weeks. If that still doesn’t work, surgery is another option.
“We fix it with internal fixation, a plate or screw.”
But what if it’s not a stress fracture?
Dr. Werner says it could just be inflammation or tendinitis that can be helped with anti-inflammatories, ice and rest. But no matter what’s wrong with your foot, there are other treatment and prevention options besides surgery or a boot.
“The right kind of strengthening, the right kind of exercise and avoiding the wrong kind is where physical therapy can really be helpful,” said Dr. Werner.
Physical therapy helps, as well as buying the right shoes.
“The right kind of shoe wear is important. It has to be the right size and often the right width.”
Dr. Werner says go to a good shoe store where the salespeople will look at your arch, instep and posture to help select the perfect shoes for your feet.
Most importantly, he says when you have foot pain, don’t let it go; go see a doctor.