Footwear related problems are a common issue faced by at least 40% of the world population. It mostly occurs due to the wrong choice of footwear.
Wearing a wrong footwear is a much bigger concern than just wearing a tight one. It can lead to many complications that can cause
significant pain and other symptoms requiring medical attention.
A list of the most common footwear associated problems are mentioned below.
Blisters are fluid-filled bumps that develop over your skin due to damage to the blood vessels of the outer skin. Blisters usually form due to repetitive trauma. It may lead to significant pain and difficulty in walking.
Bunions, also called hallux valgus in the medical term. It is a structural problem that affects the joint of the big toe (metatarsophalangeal joint), causing it to bend towards the smaller toes. This makes the other toes pop out while creating a sort of bulge at the joint where the big toe connects to the feet.
They are big patches of skin that become hard, thick or tough due to repeated friction or continuous load due to contact. They are typically pale yellow and less sensitive to touch compared to the other parts of the skin. It forms in places where the body-weight is often supported like the heels or where the toe meets the feet.
Corns are basically like calluses but are much smaller in size. They are made of dead skin and can be hard or soft. Corns have a definite round shape, can cause pain and irritation.
Heel spur is a bony growth or projection that develops underneath your heel. It forms due to excess calcium deposition at heel bone (callus) in response to repeated pressure or trauma. It can pinch the adjacent soft tissue on keeping the foot down, leading to pain.
It is a fungal infection that occurs in between the toes.It develops due to exposure to a wet or moist environment like public showers, changing rooms, swimming pools, etc. It can spread to other parts (elbow, knee, groin, scalp, hands) of the body upon contact.
Ingrown toenail is the condition when the toenail starts growing inwards into the skin on the sides or the grooves that support the nail. It can lead to pain and constant irritation requiring medical attention.
It occurs when the plantar fascia, a thick web-like ligament or tissue that connects the heel to the front of the feet, gets inflamed or swollen.
The plantar fascia supports the arch of the foot, and swelling of this ligament tends to cause significant pain. People can experience pain the first thing in the morning, which can get worse.
It is a common foot deformity in which the toes curls downwards, forming a claw-like shape. The first joint of the toe tends to point upwards while the second joint of the toe points downwards, forming a claw.
This results due to damage to the toe nerves by conditions such as diabetes or chronic alcohol consumption. While for some, it might not be painful; others might experience discomfort or pain.
Mallet or hammertoe is another form of deformity that causes the toe or toes to face downwards instead of moving towards the side or in the upwards direction.
It is commonly known as a stone bruise due to the continuous feeling of walking with a stone or pebble in the footwear. It develops due to damage to the ball of the foot, causing a prickling sensation between the toes and the arch.
One of the commonest foot issues that develop due to wearing an ill-fitted footwear. The shoe bite can be very painful and discomforting especially on wearing the problematic footwear for an extended period.
It is often visible as the skin gets bruised, torn, or scraped, causing an open wound where the shoe produces prickly sensation.
Most of the footwear problems are easily identifiable with visible marks on the feet, and each of the conditions are different from the other. While there are some common symptoms for the issues, most of the conditions have specific symptoms to identify them.
Some of the common symptoms include:
• Pain in any part of the foot
• Skin thickening or change in the colour of the skin
• Skin abrasion, cuts or damage
• Loss of or damage to toenails or bruising around the toenails
While conditions like shoe bite can be easily identified with the common symptoms due to the visible clues, some of the conditions have specific symptoms, as mentioned below.
Athlete’s Foot: Classic symptoms include cracking, peeling, or blistering on the feet with irritation on the skin,usually in between the toenails.
Important signs include:
• A clear visible bump near the first toe
• Difficulty walking
• Pain in the toe joint
• Calluses or corn under the big toe joint
• Increased skin thickness of the affected toe
Ingrown toenails: Pain in and around the toenails is the most prominent symptom along with swelling, redness, or possible fluid discharge indicating infection.
Corn and Calluses: They often end up having similar signs, including thick and rough skin, flaky and dry or waxy skin, pain under the skin, raised or hardened skin.
Heel Spur: It can have visible signs like a protruding bone under the heel, inflammation or swelling, and maybe redness along with other signs like sharp pain under the heel in the morning, feeling of heat, or tenderness under the heel.
Plantar fasciitis: Pain under the foot along the arch from the toe to the heel is the only symptom.
Claw toe and hammertoe: have visible signs in which the toes are shaped in different ways and can be accompanied by additional pain and discomfort during the use of footwear.
Stone Bruise: Occasional sharp pain like a stone in the footwear is a sign of this condition.
Some of the footwear related conditions are not something to be worried about.Many conditions can be managed at home with rest and care, but some of them might need medical attention and, in worst-case scenarios, a surgery.
Visit a doctor if you observe any of the following signs.
• Unbearable pain in any part of the feet.
• Swelling or inflammation that doesn’t subside after an overnight rest
• If the foot problem is hampering your day to day activity
• Skin irritation, redness or itchiness
• Blisters that don’t heal or might be abnormally colored
Conditions like heel spur, bunions, athlete’s foot, corns, and calluses might need medical attention in some time, if not immediately. It is important to consult a doctor in such cases as the pain can hamper the daily routine, and negligence can deteriorate the present conditions so much that one might require surgery.
Some conditions like shoe bites, blisters, or ingrown toenails can be bearable or get better on their own, given some rest and proper home care.
People with other conditions like claw toe and hammertoe might never suffer any pain or discomfort and would not have to consult a doctor, although it is never a bad idea to know more about a certain condition.
While some of these deformities can already be present in a person due to genetics, all the conditions mentioned are definitely deteriorated with the use of an ill-fitting shoe or footwear.
Women tend to develop such foot problems more often due to narrow shoes and high heels, applying pressure on the toes and the feet.
Uneven or ill-fitting footwear is known to either aggravate or lead to footwear related conditions.
• Tight footwear can cause calluses or corns due to the excess pressure on the feet.
• Narrow footwear applies more pressure on the toes and can lead to bunions. Lateral deviation occurs in the first toe, causing a deformity in the first metatarsophalangeal joint.
• Small shoes also apply pressure on the smaller toes vertically and can lead to hammertoes.
• Improper shoe size can put pressure on the toes from the front and can lead to the smaller toes bending down, causing claw toes.
• Tapered shoes can lead to more pressure on the toenails leading to ingrown toenails, which can be very painful.
Too much friction due to improper footwear, improper socks, rough surfaces in the shoes, or too much activity can cause blisters or shoe bites and may give rise to corns and calluses.
Shoes that have a low quality of padding under the sole can lead to high pressure under the heel and lead to a heel spur.
Thin soles can:
• cause more pressure on the feet leading to plantar fasciitis
• increase friction or heat causing blisters or calluses
Damp or moist footwear: can promote the growth of fungus leading to athlete’s foot. It is a contagious infection that can spread to other parts of the body quickly.
Doctors or podiatrists (feet specialists) can usually diagnose the medical conditions depending on the symptoms as most of the conditions are identifiable easily.
A thorough inspection by the doctor can help identify the problem as some conditions like corns, calluses, bunions, claw toes, hammertoes, blisters, and shoe bites have visual symptoms making them stand out.
Pinpointing the area, which is paining, can help the doctor better identify the condition and suggest remedies.
• Toe pain may indicate conditions like bunions, claw toe, or hammertoe.
• Pain under the feet from toe to heel may point towards plantar fasciitis.
• Heel pain can be an indication of heel spur.
Heel spur might not have any visual indications, and hence a doctor might suggest an X-ray to confirm the calcium deposit under the heel.
Other conditions like bunions, corns, hammertoes, or claw toes might be diagnosable, but an X-ray might still be suggested to understand the extent of the condition and to suggest further treatment methods.
While most of the home remedies can be applied by oneself, depending upon the results from the diagnosis, doctors might suggest a similar alternative in case the condition isn’t severe.
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