Top 10 Foot Problems


Foot problems are a common complication of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Regular visits with your doctor/podiatrist, is essential for maintaining proper foot health. While it's important for people with diabetes to keep a daily check on their feet, your doctor is the best one to perform treatments on your feet, trim your toenails, etc. What follows is a list of common foot ailments. When concerns arise, be sure to see your doctor.

1 – Foot Ailment: Achilles Tendinitis
Description: Irritation and inflammation of the tendon that attaches to the back of the heel bone. Achilles tendinitis can be caused by improper warm up or overtraining.

Treatment: Can be treated with ice and rest. Aspirin or anti-inflammatory medications may relieve this pain but check with your doctor for the best medication to use. Chronic pain or any swelling should be professionally evaluated.

2 – Foot Ailment: Bunions
Description: Misaligned big toe joints which can become swollen and tender, causing the first joint of the big toe to slant outward, and the second joint to angle toward the other toes. Bunions tend to be hereditary but can be aggravated by shoes that are too narrow in the forefoot and toe.

Treatment: Surgery by a podiatric physician is frequently recommended to correct the problem.

3 – Foot Ailment: Hammertoe
Description: A condition, usually stemming from muscle imbalance, in which the toe is bent in a claw-like position. It occurs most frequently with the second toe, often when a bunion slants the big toe toward and under it, but any of the other three smaller toes can be affected.

Treatment: Selecting shoes and socks that do not cramp the toes will alleviate aggravation.

4 – Foot Ailment: Heel Spurs
Description: Growths of bone on the underside, forepart of the heel bone. Heel spurs occur when the plantar tendon pulls at its attachment to the heel bone. This area of the heel can later calcify to form a spur.

Treatment: With proper warm-up and the use of appropriate athletic shoes, strain to the ligament can be reduced.

5 – Foot Ailment: Ingrown Toenails
Description: Nails whose corners or sides dig painfully into the skin. Ingrown toenails are frequently caused by improper nail trimming, but also by shoe pressure, injury, fungus infection, heredity and poor foot structure. Women are 50% more likely to have ingrown toenails than men.

Treatment: Can be prevented by a visit to the podiatrist to trim the toenails straight across and selecting proper shoe style and size - not too tapered or shallow - and paying special attention to foot pain.

6 – Foot Ailment: Neuromas
Description: Enlarged benign growths of nerves, most commonly between the third and fourth toes. They are caused by tissue rubbing against and irritating the nerves. Pressure from ill-fitting shoes or abnormal bone structure can create the condition as well.

Treatment: Treatments include orthoses (shoe inserts) and/or cortisone injections, but surgical removal of the growth is sometimes necessary.

7 – Foot Ailment: Plantar Fasciitis
Description: Plantar fasciitis (or heel pain) is commonly traced to an inflammation on the bottom of the foot.

Treatment: A podiatric physician can evaluate arch pain and may prescribe customized shoe inserts called orthoses to help alleviate the pain.

8 – Foot Ailment: Sesamoiditis
Description: Sometimes known as the "ball bearings of the foot," the sesamoids are two small bones found beneath the first metatarsal bones. They can inflame or rupture under the stress of exercise.

Treatment: Sesamoiditis can be relieved with proper shoe selection and orthoses.

9 – Foot Ailment: Shin Splints
Description: Pain to either side of the leg bone, caused by muscle or tendon inflammation. It is commonly related to excessive foot pronation (collapsing arch) but may be related to a muscle imbalance between opposing muscle groups in the leg.

Treatment: Proper stretching and corrective orthoses (shoe inserts) for pronation can help prevent shin splints.

10 – Foot Ailment: Stress Fractures
Description: One of the various types of fractures, stress fractures require vastly different treatment. Stress fractures are incomplete cracks in bone caused by overuse.

Treatment: With complete rest, stress fractures heal quickly. Extra padding in shoes helps prevent the condition. Note: Stress fractures left untreated may become complete fractures, which require casting and immobilization.

Adapted from the American Podiatric Medical Association.

Last Modified Date: July 08, 2013

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by Brenda Bell
Many people say that depression is a side effect or complication of diabetes. Without discounting the association of the psychological condition with the physical one, I'm not convinced that our high and/or unstable glucose levels are directly responsible for that change in our mental state. My belief is that the unrelenting need for self-care, for following the sort of care schedules that can drive licensed, professional caregivers crazy, is what overwhelms us...
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