I would love to help you
While it’s tempting to turn to Dr Google for advice, when it comes to your health, it’s much better to see a doctor or health professional.
Below you will find some information relating to common foot problems and concerns. It’s an information starting point, which does not replace a proper assessment by a podiatrist.
- Help! Why do my feet feel tight and numb?
Do your feet feel tight and numb?
For many people, this feeling is described as ‘like having socks that are too tight’ or ‘pins and needles.’
If you’re experiencing persistent numbness or tightness in your feet it’s extremely important you get this checked out by a podiatrist. Sometimes it’s not be a serious problem, as the cause may simply be a squashed nerve from sitting awkwardly, in which case you’ll be advised on how to deal with it.
However, numb and tight feet associated with other sensations (such as tingling, burning or pins and needles) can be a red flag. There are many causes for this problem, which without proper assessment cannot be effectively treated.
Foot numbness can also be a form of nerve damage that affects people with diabetes, and this is known as Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy (DPN).
Are you a diabetic?
Foot numbness is of special concern if you’re a diabetic. Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy (DPN) affects the transmission of biochemical-electric nerve signals from the brain to the spine to the peripheral nerves in the extremities, such as the lower legs, feet and toes, and arms, hands and fingers. Symptoms present as electric shock type “pricks”, which are the nerves trying to fire signals from your brain to your feet, but getting interrupted. This is caused by the damage created by chronic fluctuations of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, which can happen over years of living with diabetes. If you’re diabetic, be informed but don’t jump to conclusions. It’s much better to see a podiatrist who can work with you to identify the true cause. Even if foot numbness is not a problem, if you’re a diabetic it’s best to see your podiatrist every 12 months.
If you’re experiencing numbness, tightness or tingling in your feet, please book in for a consultation with Sophie. Without prompt assessment and treatment, you may experience long-term damage.
Wouldn’t you rather have an answer and action plan exactly right for you? Book now.
- Why didn't my in-grown toenail grow back properly?
Whether you had your in-grown toenail treated by a podiatrist or you attended to this yourself, it can be extremely painful when it returns.
Our feet endure stress and strain daily, through walking, wearing shoes (especially poor fitting ones) as well as playing sport or doing physical work. When the toenail, which is there to protect the toe, cuts into the skin, this results in an in-grown toenail.
What causes toenails to become in-grown in the first place?
There are many reasons, including:
- Improper cutting (like cutting down the sides or picking at the sides…please don’t try this at home!)
- Poorly fitted footwear
- Incurvated nails (due to trauma or genetic inheritance)
- Chubby toes
In-grown toenail treatment involves correct cutting under the guidance of a qualified podiatrist, who will help you prevent this problem re-occurring.
In some cases, when the usual treatment fails, surgery will be considered to remove or partially remove the toenail. Complete toenail removal is rarely needed and prevention is much better than cure.
So, if you find your treated in-grown toenail growing back awkwardly, you need to book an appointment with your local podiatrist. Sophie can advise you on how to deal with any issues that arise to avoid future pain.
- Could I have flat feet? Everything you need to know about collapsed arches.
Many people are concerned they may have flat feet. This is particularly the case of parents who are worried that their children are flat footed.
Here’s everything you need to know about collapsed arches:
How do you know you’ve got them?
Step 1: Get your feet wet.
Step 2: Stand on a flat surface to leave your footprint.
Step 3: Step away and look at your footprints. If you notice complete imprints of the bottoms of your feet then you probably do have collapsed arches, known as flat feet.
What causes collapsed arches?
In children, this is not always a concern — as they grow their arches usually develop properly. (But if you’re concerned, it’s worth making an appointment with your local podiatrist.)
In adults, the causes are varied, including:
- Abnormality present from birth
- Torn tendons
- Broken or dislocated bones
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Nerve problems
Should you be concerned?
Many people have flat feet (collapsed arches) and don’t find it a bother at all.
It’s vital, however, you book an appointment to get seen by a podiatrist if you notice any of the following symptoms associated with collapsed arches:
- Your feet tire out easily
- You experience painful or achy feet, particularly in your arches and heels.
- Your feet become swollen
- Standing on your toes is difficult
- You experience back or leg pain
You can book your appointment with Sophie here.
- What causes pain in the heel of the foot?
When you look at the people who are most at risk for heel pain, you can see it covers almost everyone!
Heel pain usually affects:
- Middle-aged men and women
- Physically active people
- People who are overweight or obese
- People who are on their feet for long periods of time
- Children aged between eight and 13 years (particularly boys)
- Women during pregnancy.
Is it a problem?
It’s not a sign of strength to ‘put up with pain.’ It’s a sign of strength to get help. Whatever the cause of heel pain, it’s important you seek advice to reduce pain and treat the problem effectively. Remember, pain is a signal to get your attention.
What causes heel pain?
- Standing, running or jumping on hard surfaces
- Injury to the heel, such as a stress fracture
- Abnormal walking style
- Overweight or obesity
- Ill-fitting shoes
- Abnormal walk
- Bursitis (inflammation at joints and muscles)
- Neuroma (nerve enlargement)
Are there complications associated with heel pain?
Yes! The main complications associated with heel pain are plantar fasciitis and heel spur. These can’t be self-dignosed, and what’s worth knowing is that one in ten Australians have heel spurs without experiencing any symptoms (or pain). The spur itself doesn’t cause pain, as the pain comes from inflammation in this area.
What can be done, treatment-wise?
Like all foot problems, correct treatment relies on identifying the true cause which is why seeing a podiatrist is so important.
Treatment can include:
- Rest from activities that stress the heel (such as running and jumping)
- Ice packs
- Regular foot massage, concentrating on the arch of the foot
- Professional strapping
- A splint worn at night
- Flexibility exercises
- Ultrasound therapy
- Anti-inflammatory medicine (topical or oral)
- Posture checks to help correct imbalances, gait and walking style.
- Shoe inserts
When you book an appointment with Sophie, you’ll discover the true cause and best course of treatment for you.
- What is a bunion and how do I treat it?
Have you noticed a bony protusion at the base of your big toe?
You may have a bunion. While bunions usually appear on the inner foot, they can also appear at the base of the little toe. Often a bunion will be accompanied by a thickening of the skin and tissues around the area, which can become swollen, inflamed and painful. A fluid-filled sac may also develop over it. (Sounds delightful, doesn’t it?!)
So what causes bunions in the first place?
Bunions usually affect women and are a type of deformity. While exact causes are unknown, there is usually a genetic predisposition to abnormal foot function leading to likelihood of bunions. Abnormal biomechanics may lead to instability of the metatarsal phalangeal joint and muscle imbalance, which results in a bunion.
Can bunions be treated?
Whatever the cause, one thing’s for sure: poor fitting shoes will exacerbate the problem.
And while it won’t eradicate the bunion, good footwear is often all that’s needed! (Which is why I’m so passionate about footwear and share the brands I use and love).
Your local podiatrist (that’s me, Sophie Winterbourn), can advise you on how to treat your bunion using simple care techniques and lifestyle changes.
In some cases, surgery will be needed, but usually the problem can be corrected through footwear and lifestyle changes.
Whether your bunion(s) is causing you pain or not, it’s best to be pro-active about treating this deformity as so much can be done to make life easier for you.
- My toe is bent downwards. Should I be concerned?
Do you have a toe that bends or curls downward, rather than pointing forward?
If so, you may have ‘hammer toe,’ a deformity that can affect any toe, but usually affects the second or third toe. Your toe contains two joints that help it bend. With hammer toe, the middle joint has become dislocated
While hammer toe can be present from birth, it’s more likely to develop over time due to arthritis or wearing poor-fitting or inappropriate footwear. The good news is, hammer toe is a problem that is easily solved in most cases.
What are the causes of hammer toe?
- Pressure from a bunion (read more about bunions here)
- Poorly-fitted shoes
- An unusually high foot arch
- Traumatic toe injury
- Tightened ligaments or tendons in the foot
- Spinal chord or peripheral damage
How can hammer toe be treated?
Like many common foot problems, proper footwear is key to treatment. Unfortunately, many people do not realise the options now available in terms of footwear to help ease their pain.
If you have a case of mild hammer toe, treatment includes the use of in-soles, stretching exercises and over-the-counter toe pads. Under the guidance of your local podiatrist, you will learn how to treat hammer toe effectively.
Surgery is often the only option, however, if you have a case of severe hammer toe.
As with most foot problems, early detection is key. The longer problems are left, the more likelihood that complications can develop. So, whether you have a mild or severe case of hammer toe, it’s best to be seen by a podiatrist earlier rather than later.
Contact Front Foot Podiatry to arrange a consultation today.
- What is causing pain and discomfort in the ball of my foot?
If you’re experiencing pain in either a) the balls of your feet, b) toes c) arch or midfoot or d) all of those areas, you are experiencing metatarsalgia.
Metatarsal bones are the bones that help you stand, walk, run, so they’re pretty important. If you’re feeling pain in the metatarsal region, it’s could be due to:
- Hammer toes (find out more about hammer toe here)
- Bone abnormalities (due to genetics, disease or injuries)
- Thinning of the foot’s fatty tissue
- A high arch or flat feet that puts pressure on this region (find out more about flat feet here)
How do I treat and/or prevent this pain?
As a podiatrist, I will advise on the ways you can treat metatarsalgia, or avoid it altogether. Common recommendations include:
- Stretching you archilles tendon to strengthen your foot muscles
- Reducing intense or strenuous exercise for a period of time.
- Using cold therapy or ice packs
- Avoiding high heels or inappropriate footwear
- Getting the right footwear to support proper mechanics
- Arch supports, metatarsal pads, insoles, inserts or orthotics
In some cases, surgery will be required. But surgery can often be avoided by working with your podiatrist sooner rather than later.
If ball pain is a concern, whether mild or severe, make an appointment with Sophie to receive individual care and recommendations.
- What can I do about shin splints?
Do you suffer from shin pain?
Pain experienced in the front or inner part of the lower leg, known as shin splints, is most commonly experienced by runners, but can happen to anyone who is physically active.
Shin splints usually occurs from incorrect biomechanics, over-training or poor training techniques. If you’ve just started an exercise regime or adopted a new sport, shin splints can occur from ‘going too hard, too soon.’ If you’re running or playing sport, the surface you play or run upon may be contributing to shin splints.
Did you know that up to 20% of running injuries are caused by shin splints and 60% of sports injuries involve the legs?
Shin splints shouldn’t be ‘put up with’ as without proper management, this shin pain can lead to more serious injury.
So what can be done?
As a podiatrist, I can gain an accurate assessment of your particular situation and create the best remedy and plan for you.
Treatment and management may include:
- Rest, combined with alternative movement and training activities.
- Ice therapy
- Arch supports
- Effective warm up and cool down exercises
- Orthotics to prevent over-pronation
- Pre-hab exercises designed to prepare you for your return to the sport or running regime.
Many people put up with shin splints and do not take the proper care, which can lead to a stress fracture.
At Front Foot Podiatry, Sophie has a passion for prevention as much as treatment, so whether you’re already experiencing shin pain, or you’re about to embark on a new exercise program, consider an appointment to set you up for success. Book now.