Women’s common foot problems

Let’s admit it, ladies. We abuse our feet. We put a lot of stress and strain on our lower extremities, and we don’t take nearly as good care of them as we should. Based on our need to be fashionable, we often wear shoes that don’t fit well or are just not designed for walking and standing for long periods of time. Even Oprah admits that she only wears her highest heels once she’s seated during an interview. It’s no wonder that those stilettos and peep-toes are causing us pain—they are designed for beauty, not comfort. Women have some of the same foot problems as men, but mostly, our feet have many more “issues.”

Bunions are enlargements of the joint at the base of the big toe—the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint—that form when the bone or tissue at the big toe joint moves out of place. Bunions are a symptom of our foot’s development due to the way we walk, our inherited foot type, our shoes, or for other reasons. Although bunions tend to run in families, it is the foot type that is passed down—not the bunion. Since the MTP joint carries much of the body’s weight while walking, bunions can cause extreme pain if left untreated. Podiatric medical attention should be sought at the first indication of pain or discomfort. Stress fractures are tiny or incomplete cracks in a bone often caused by overuse.

Stress fractures occur most frequently in the foot and ankle and can be caused by a number of factors. An unusual increase in activity causing strain in the foot (fatigue fracture) is one of the most common causes, while weak bones (insufficiency fractures), are caused by medical conditions such as osteoporosis, can also be a factor. Medications such as steroids can lead to stress fractures, as can a sudden increase in activity levels. All of these causes can and should be evaluated by your podiatrist when you notice pain or swelling, which are the symptoms of a stress fracture.

A neuroma, also referred to as a “pinched nerve,” is a painful condition involving irritation and/or thickening of the nerve tissue between the toes, most commonly the 3rd and 4th toes. The condition brings on pain, a burning sensation, tingling, or numbness between the toes and in the ball of the foot. Your podiatrist can offer a number of treatment options for a neuroma.

Ingrown nails are a common ailment seen by podiatric physicians. An ingrown nail is one whose corners or sides dig painfully into the soft tissue of the toe, often leading to irritation, redness, and swelling. Usually, toenails grow out straight, but sometimes one or both corners or the sides will curve and grow into the flesh. The big toe is the most common site for this condition, but other toes can also become affected.

Ingrown toenails may be caused by any one or more of the following: improperly trimmed nails, shoes that are too tight, trauma, and activities with repeated pressure on the toe (such as running or kicking). There are other causes as well, but this painful condition can usually be eased with one or two visits to your podiatrist’s office.

Women may also have a tendency to develop blisters, corns, calluses, and heel pain. All of these conditions can be treated by your podiatrist, and a number of treatment options are available. Once we all realize that our feet don’t have to hurt, life will be that much more enjoyable, ladies.

Source: footprints – an informational newsletter for patients of APMA member podiatrists.