Your foot pain may be nothing – but don’t take chances.
Pain is a sign that something is wrong. Many people attribute foot pain to getting older – “par for the course.” However, in most cases, professional medical help can reduce or even alleviate pain, and can also prevent symptoms from growing worse or more dangerous.
Often, it’s simply a matter of wearing higher-quality, ergonomically designed footwear, but a physician should examine your feet for any proper diagnosis.
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Hot and cold compresses and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory products often help greatly with minor symptoms. However, before you self-medicate or self-treat, always see your doctor first, especially if symptoms persist.
Here are some red flags that should alert you to making a doctor’s appointment right away.
Difficulty walking. Many people attribute this to getting older, but the symptoms could be more serious. If you have trouble walking or standing, get a medical opinion.
Persistent swelling. Swollen feet are a common – and often, minor – problem. However, if your feet are still swollen after 2-5 days of self-treatment and rest, see your doctor.
Poor circulation/cold feet. Among other things, this means that your feet may not be able to fight off infections or heal properly. Try warm socks first, but also make that appointment with your healthcare provider. Ergonomically designed shoes and exercise are great for improving foot circulation.
Burning pain, tingling or numbness, especially at the bottom of your foot, could mean nerve damage or poor circulation. Also, these sensations can often start in the feet and spread throughout your body. It’s best to get this checked right away.
Changes in skin condition. Dry skin on the feet is a common ailment, especially in the winter. Petroleum jelly or moisturizer usually does a good job. Soaking your feet is not a good solution for this – it actually dries out the skin on your feet. If your dry skin problem persists year-round, it’s possible that the nerves and the oil in your feet could be malfunctioning.
If you have diabetes, or suspect that you do. Uncontrolled diabetes can cause nerve damage (the medical term for this is neuropathy) and poor blood flow. This can also lead to an absence of feeling in the foot, which means that if you damage it, you won’t feel the pain and won’t know something is wrong. Think of stepping on a sharp tack and continuing to walk on it, not knowing it’s there.
Foot ulcers. These usually happen on the ball of your foot or at the bottom of your big toe. If you have ulcers on the sides of your feet, that could be attributed to poorly fitting shoes. Not all ulcers hurt, so you should take each one of them seriously, painful or not. Ulcers can lead to infections, and not all of them stem from the same causes. In many cases, a doctor will X-ray or take a culture of the ulcer. They can also eliminate any dead or infected tissue.
Therapeutic, ergonomically designed shoes can also help keep your feet healthy and comfortable. Click here to find out more about how Orthofeet can help your feet.
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