An in-grown toenail can be a real pain. Did you know that caught early enough, a podiatrist’s intervention could literally add years to your life? It’s true. In an around about way.
For example, a rampant infection kick-started (pun intended) by an in-grown toenail, could cause septicemia – a serious bloodstream infection – and in turn, death. While you may be thinking this a preventable and rather foolish way to die, people affected by chronic conditions such as diabetes can lose sensation in their feet and be oblivious to a foot infection.
Then, consider this. If you were covering a moderate 7,500 steps every day with an average stride of 65 centimetres, by the time you turn 80 your feet may have carried you more than 142,000 kilometres. If you were a car, you’d have replaced a few sets of tyres by now!
So, how can a podiatrist help? Well, our feet are complex. A podiatrist is a trained expert in feet and the anatomical bits and pieces that connect our feet to our bodies – ankles, lower limbs and extending right through to your hips. In fact, many hip problems can often be traced backed to foot issues. A podiatrist is trained to prevent, diagnose, treat and rehabilitate medical and surgical conditions associated with your feet.
Apart from saving your life and helping you cover great distances in comfort, here are a few other reasons why it may be worth your while getting to know a trusted podiatrist.
You podiatrist can help keep you upright
As we age our feet and ankles, like the rest of our body, lose strength and flexibility. You may find yourself tripping over more than you did in your youth. A serious fall once you’re over 55 could take years off your life, and a lengthy rehabilitation program.
A podiatrist can check how you’re travelling (there are more puns coming) and come up with a strength and flexibility plan for your feet.
A podiatrist can also observe, and with the help of technology, assess your foot fall or gait, and recommend corrective exercises and advice on the type of shoes that will give your feet the best support.
Your podiatrist can make your feet more comfortable
Foot pain is not uncommon as we age but it doesn’t mean you have to put up with it. A podiatrist can help.
Like a favourite old couch or pillow, our ‘foot cushions’ get less cushiony. More impact with each step can increase damage to your bones and ligaments.
Orthopaedic shoes may help, and your podiatrist can advise you on this. It may simply be that you need to reassess the types of shoes you choose to wear.
Even the way you trim your toenails can affect the overall comfort of your feet.
A podiatrist can assess your feet and provide you with preventative solutions and treatments to… wait for it… get you back on your feet.
If affected by diabetes or arthritis your podiatrist can improve your quality of life
Feet are often a victim of long-term chronic conditions such as diabetes or arthritis. For example, diabetes can damage the nerve cells in your legs and feet (aka sensory diabetic neuropathy). If you can’t feel pain or inflammation, foot conditions or injuries can escalate.
A podiatrist will advise you what to look out for in your daily feet check, so that you don’t end up with a serious medical complication such as a foot ulcer that becomes so serious, that amputation is necessary. A serious infection left unchecked can become life threatening.
Your podiatrist can give you the best pedicure you’ve ever had
Due to loads of damaged toes in football boots in his youth, I’m pretty sure my now elderly dad could make it into the Guinness Book of Records for the thickest toenails in the world. Sadly, limited in mobility by advanced Parkinson’s, lobbing off those toe horns was a task that was beyond his ability. Having brought a good podiatrist to task, we now understand that this life-time chore was preventable. Decades of unnecessary pain and effort was the outcome of not booking in to see a foot expert way back when.
Fungal infections can often be the cause of thick, painful toenails. If reading this has made your toes curl, it may be time to book in to see a good podiatrist. Don’t ever resign yourself to thinking ageing feet must be painful feet. Help may well be at hand.
And in-grown toenails are not just unsightly, but without the right advice and treatment, can become incredibly painful. Pop those sweaty feet into a pair of in-grown toe nail torture devices aka shoes, can create the perfect conditions for a nasty bacterial infection.
Pressure on corns and calluses on your feet can become a steady pain that you may just persevere with. You don’t need to put up with foot pain when it is treatable. Your podiatrist can assess skin related conditions on your feet – tinea is another one – and work through a treatment plan with you.
As with any medical help, prevention or an early diagnosis always leads to a better outcome.
Your podiatrist is no pain in the heel
Plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis are just a couple of causes of what can be debilitating heel pain. Tightness or inflammation in your heel can have you putting your feet up, for good. Don’t let heel pain slow down your fitness regime. Your podiatrist will be able to assess the causes and advise some remedies to have you back into exercising, or your favourite sport.
Given your feet are your primary source of mobility when it comes to getting around, and incorporating regular activity for your health and well-being, looking after them could add years of wellness.
A good podiatrist is well worth their weight in toenail clippings!
Healthdirect – What is a podiatrist?
Diabetes Australia – Foot care