Most people suffer with foot problems throughout their life, they are not uncommon due to the simple fact that most of us are mobile and active on our feet a lot of the time. These problems arise for several reasons, from over use of our lower limbs, genetic deformities, improper footwear, and general or sporting injuries.
There are short-term fixes for mild variations of foot problems which you can achieve yourself. You don’t need a degree in podiatry to understand the basics of treating mild injuries at home and understanding ways you can easily prevent or reduce the risk of injury. Some at-home treatments can be as simple as gentle stretching or elevation of the joint to reduce pain, our range of bandages and supports can come in useful for keeping painful joints in place.
To prevent serious conditions affecting the feet such as rheumatoid arthritis and chronic joint instability from occurring, it is vital that you treat any foot injuries effectively and as soon as possible. Seek further medical help if the injury is more severe or does not improve after appropriate treatment.
Statistics from UKpodiatry show that 75% of all British people will suffer from a foot problem at some point in their lifetime, examples include bunions and plantar fasciitis. Most of these common foot conditions can be avoided by maintaining good foot health and with simple home remedies.
Heel pain can occur for lots of reasons, and it may not always be serious or long-lasting. Some of the main causes which invite heel pain include obesity, uncomfortable or ill-fitting shoes, overstretching, and running on hard surfaces. Severe heel pain could be a symptom of a more serious issue such as diabetes or plantar fasciitis. Severe pain or numbness in the heel should be checked by a professional immediately.
How to treat:
Rest your heel when you can and keep it raised when not moving, if pain continues you can apply an ice pack to the area for up to 20 minutes to reduce inflammation. Using an elasticated bandage on your ankle/ heel will apply a gentle pressure whilst adding extra support.
Most of us have experienced a blister at some point in our lives, which happens when small pockets of fluid develop under the skin when friction occurs. Most of the time, blisters heal on their own as your skin absorbs the fluid and becomes flat again.
How to treat:
To allow the healing to occur, you can cover it with a blister cushion to keep the area clean and dry and relieve the affected area from any pain or pressure until it fully heals. Steroplast blister plasters are medical grade and contain hydrogel cushions to protect against knocks, once applied they form a germ proof seal to prevent infection.
An ingrowing toenail is when the nail begins to grow into the toe, causing pain, discomfort and often infection. This is a common problem that can occur naturally or as a result of wearing tight or pointed shoes.
How to treat:
Soaking the foot in warm water a few times a day will clean and soften the skin, reducing pain. Avoid wearing tight or restrictive shoes where you can and avoid touching the area as this can increase the chances of infection.
Sporting injuries can affect joints, muscles, and ligaments in the lower body if they are overworked. Preparing for exercise is one of the easiest ways to reduce risk of injury, this involves warming up appropriately before exercise and investing in supportive footwear. Sprains, pains and pulls can be frustrating, but generally easy to treat.
Medial tibial stress syndrome, also known as shin splints, is a condition caused by stress on the shin bone which can cause pain and discomfort when standing or exercising. High impact on the legs over time can cause shin splints to occur as the bone is overworked.
Wearing the right footwear can prevent your chances of developing a shin splint, it is wise to visit a podiatrist if you need more targeted support on certain areas of the foot. Their assessment will conclude whether you need custom orthotics or tailor-made insteps to absorb impact and offer additional support.
How to treat:
Kinesiology tape can be used to prevent and treat shin splints as it works to stabilize the surrounding muscle and provide adequate compression. The tape will stay in place for 3-5 days after applying, even whilst you shower. For the most effective way to use kinesiology tape for shin splints, follow Healthlines steps for a proper taping technique.
You should not ignore a shin splint as this could lead to more severe issues such as strains and fractures. Rest the leg after exercise and ensure you warm up appropriately, start with these 4-warm up stretches to avoid shin splints.
Spraining your ankle whilst running or partaking in high impact sports is easy to do. The ligaments in your ankle are at risk of tearing if it twists or stretches in the wrong direction. A sprained ankle can cause pain during and after the injury, leading to swelling and bruising which can limit your movement and ability to walk or stand.
How to treat:
If the injury is mild and your ankle is still mobile, it can be easy to reduce pain at home by using the RICE method:
Rest – Don’t participate in any activity which requires applying pressure to the foot for a while to give the ligament time to heal. The day after the injury occurs is likely to be the most painful, so it is important that you rest for at least the first 48 hours after injuring the area.
Compression – Wrapping the ankle firmly with an elastic bandage will compress the injury and limit blood flow. Our Sterogrip Elasticated Tubular Bandage will evenly distribute support and compression to the injury and stay in place without tapes or pins, keeping the area somewhat immobilized. If you are treating the injury by yourself, we recommend the Sterogrip Tubular Bandage Applicator for easier application on especially painful joints.
Elevation – Elevate the foot above the level of your heart using a chair or cushion, this will help to relieve pain and minimize swelling.
When to see a podiatrist
If at-home treatments aren’t enough, or you are suffering with long term foot problems, it could be time to visit a podiatrist’s clinic for further diagnosis and treatment.
What is a podiatrist?
Podiatrists are healthcare professionals who are trained to assess, diagnose, and treat disorders and diseases in the lower body. They are equipped with comprehensive knowledge about disorders and diseases in the feet and lower limbs, as well as nail, skin, and general foot care.
What is the difference between a podiatrist and a chiropodist?
There is no difference between a podiatrist and a chiropodist, chiropody is a more modern name for the practice of treating feet and ailments in the lower body.
What services to podiatrists provide?
Conservative treatments are often carried out by podiatrists for conditions affecting the skin or nails, such as problematic toenails, athletes’ foot, callus and verrucae. At home treatments are available for mild variations of these issues, but more severe cases should be seen by a podiatrist to prevent further complications.
Corrective management is used to correct deformities including high arches, flat feet, bunions, joint pain, and injuries related to sport. Tapes and strappings are often used for the treatment of these injuries as well as tailor-made orthotics which can correct biomechanical foot issues. Surgery is also sometimes required to correct deformities within the feet.
Where to find a podiatrist?
For serious injuries in the feet and lower body and long-term treatment, there are excellent podiatry services available in the UK. Whilst most podiatrists treat patients within private practices, there are also some free podiatry services accessible via the National Health Service (NHS). You can find local podiatrist and chiropodists using the NHS search feature.
Any good podiatrists’ clinic will be well stocked with a range of essentials and consumables for reducing pain and treating a range of injuries. All podiatrists must be qualified and registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) to provide their services.
For more podiatry essentials, visit our page dedicated to podiatry and chiropody products, including PPE, clinic essentials, tapes & strapping and bandages & dressings
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