chiropody & podiatry services

 

Get to know your feetchiropody and podiatry services, know your feet

Each foot consists of 26 bones and 45 muscles. With each step you take, all of the individual components work together allowing the foot to absorb impact, unlock to adapt to terrain and finally lock to create a rigid lever capable of efficient propulsion.

Any abnormality at any stage of the walking process can disrupt this dynamic sequence and may lead to complex biomechanical problems resulting in foot, ankle, knee, hip or lower back problems.

When we walk or stand, our body weight is carried first on the heel and then on the ball of the foot, where the skin is designed to withstand pressure. When this pressure becomes excessive, some areas of the skin thicken, and form hard skin, or callus. If a callus, and its cause, are left untreated and it is over a bony prominence, such as a joint, it may become a corn.

 

Corns

Corns usually occur over a bony prominence, such as a joint. They can occur anywhere on the foot where there is excess pressure or friction.

Callus

Callus is an area of thickened skin. It is the body's reaction to pressure or friction, and can appear anywhere the skin rubs against a bone, a shoe, or the ground.

Ingrowing toenails

An ingrowing toenail is one that pierces the flesh of the toe. They are caused by incorrect nail care or by trauma. They most commonly affect the big toenail, but can affect the other toes too.

An involuted nail

An involuted nail is a nail that is curling into the flesh, but not actually piercing the skin, these can often feel like ingrowing toenails as they can be very painful, red and inflamed.

Verrucae

A verruca is simply a wart on the foot. They are quite tricky to get rid of as they are caused by a virus. The virus is contagious, but can only be caught by direct contact, it thrives in warm damp areas, commonly swimming pools and changing rooms.

Ulcers

Ulcers are abrasions or breaks in the skin, which can be very slow to heal. Often on the foot they are pressure induced, and can be hidden under a neglected area of callus or a corn.

Fungal infections

Fungal infections such as athlete's foot thrive in warm, damp areas. They are quite contagious but generally easy to treat when they are on the skin. They can, however, spread to the nails, causing yellowing and thickening of the nail, and then they are much more difficult to treat.

Plantarfaciitis

Plantarfaciitis is a term used to describe several problems causing pain, usually, in the area of the arch of the foot and base of the heel.

Chilblains

Chilblains are painful, itchy swellings often on the toes, but can arise on the fingers, nose and ears. They are caused by the body reacting to cold, if the area is very cold, then warmed too quickly the body sets up an inflammatory response and a chilblain occurs.

Biomechanical problems

Biomechanics is a medical science that studies the mechanical functioning of the human body including locomotion. Research has identified many biomechanical problems attributed to the foot, and if left untreated, symptoms such as foot pain, ankle pain, knee pain, hip and low back pain are common.

Bunions

Bunions are boney deformities of the big toe joints brought about by the way the foot functions, and not by wearing high heeled shoes. When a person is flat footed the foot does not function correctly, locking the big toe joint as the heel lifts off the ground.  The foot is then forced to turn out applying more pressure to the inside of the big toe which forces it towards the smaller toes.  This prevents the natural 'wearing away' of cartilage which builds up to form a bunion or a boney prominence on and around the big toe joint.

Hammer toes

Hammer toes are formed by an imbalance in foot function. Inequalities in the strength of the muscles and tendons leads to some lengthening and/or shortening, allowing the toes to be pulled out of shape. Arthritic changes in the joints can also add to the problem.

Diabetes

Diabetes can affect your feet in a number of ways. It can affect the nerves of your feet resulting in reduced feeling, this is called peripheral neuropathy. As this process is gradual you can sometimes be unaware that it is happening. If you have reduced feeling in the feet you may injure them without realising it and as diabetes can also affect the blood supply to your feet you may not heal as well as you should. Diabetic patients should therefore have an annual foot health check by a qualified practitioner.

 

For further information about some of these conditions, the following websites are worth a look:

www.diabetes.org.uk

www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk

www.arthritisreasearchuk.org

 

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