Foot pain can cause mobility problems in people of all ages, but especially in the elderly. Heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, corns, and bunions can all cause a great deal of pain, keeping people from moving as much as they should. Dr. Schlomo Schmuel, a podiatrist with over 20 years of experience, examines the most common types of foot pain and offers possible solutions.
Heel Spurs and Plantar Fasciitis
Heel spurs are bony growths which start at the underside of the heel bone. This condition is sometimes painless but often results in a great deal of discomfort for the patient. Heel spurs are related to plantar fasciitis, a condition that occurs when the connective tissue that joins the ball of the foot to the heel bone is inflamed.
According to Dr. Schlomo Schmuel, when calcium builds deposits under the heel bone, heel spurs are formed. The cause is often related to excessive strain placed on the ligaments and foot muscles. Excessive stretching of the plantar fascia can bring on heel spurs. Another possible cause of heel spurs is when the membrane covering the bone is torn repeatedly.
Certain groups of people are more prone to developing heel spurs. Dr. Schlomo Schmuel believes that people with irregular walking gait are particularly susceptible. People who run or jog on hard surfaces are also at risk. Wearing shoes that are not well-fitted can be another risk factor, along with obesity.
Heel spurs are sometimes treated with surgery, but more commonly, non-surgical treatments are used. A physical therapist can help, along with stretching, taping, changing to a properly fitted shoe, and splints that are worn at night.
Surgery is considered a last resort for the treatment of heel spurs and plantar fasciitis. Surgery involves releasing the plantar fascia or removing bone spurs. The surgery is not without possible complications, some of which include heel pain, numbness, foot cramps, and instability.
While calluses are not generally painful, corns can become inflamed and cause a decrease in mobility. Corns tend to form where the foot is not bearing weight. This includes areas like the sides and tops of toes.
Corns and calluses are caused by friction and pressure. Ill-fitting shoes and not wearing socks are two common causes. Ill-fitting socks can be another problem.
Treatment of corns can involve paring of the thickened skin. People should not attempt this at home to avoid the chance of further injury or infection. Doctors may also recommend patches and gels containing salicylic acid. Wearing shoe inserts may help people with foot abnormalities avoid corns and calluses. Surgery is a rare solution but may be necessary to alter bone alignment.
People with diabetes or poor blood circulation need to be especially careful about treating corns and calluses at home. If these are not treated properly, open sores or ulcers can form.
Bunions form on the first joint of the big toe. When the next toe pushes against the big toe, a bunion can form. The joint protrudes and becomes inflamed. Bunions are large bumps on the outside of the big toe. They cause soreness, redness, and swelling in the toe joint. Arthritis may cause movement of the big toe to become difficult. Bunions may be painful all the time or intermittently.
Causes of bunions include wearing shoes that are pointed or too narrow. High heels can be a risk factor as well. Having rheumatoid arthritis increases the chances of getting bunions. It may be that these causes are exacerbated by an underlying susceptibility to bunions.
Bunions can be treated non-surgically if the pain is not extreme. Cushioning the bunion with non-medicated pads may help. Shoe inserts may help to relieve some of the pressure. Icing the foot is also helpful. Surgical treatment may involve removing inflamed tissue, removing part of the toe bone in order to straighten it, or permanently fusing the bones of the toe joint.
Schlomo Schmuel’s Guide on Overcoming Foot Pain
Working with a podiatrist like Dr. Schlomo Schmuel will help patients find some relief to their foot pain. A podiatrist is trained to diagnose and treat these ailments. Relief, whether it is surgical or non-invasive, is possible with advanced techniques.