13 05 footcare tips remediesOur feet experience a lot of wear and tear, so they need to be pampered.

In honour of May, International Foot Care Month, Toronto podiatrists Dr. Robert Chelin B.Sc., DPM, DAAPM, and Dr. Hartley Miltchin DPM, provide essential foot care tips.

When it comes to health issues with our feet the most common issues faced are bunions, foot pain and fungus, all unappealing and often embarrassing to discuss with others. However, relief is available. Here’s expert advice on how to remedy them.

Foot and heel pain

Most foot and heel pain is due to plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis. Diagnosis by a podiatrist is required to differentiate between plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis. “Both plantar fasciitis, also referred to as heel spur syndrome, and Achilles tendonitis are caused by foot overuse, unstable foot structure and a lack of strengthening and stretching especially if the calf muscle is tight,” says Dr. Miltchin.

“Plantar means bottom and the fascia is a strong band across the bottom of the foot. Plantar fasciitis occurs when there is a small tear of the fascia where it inserts itself in the heel bone. Typical symptoms are pain after rest, especially during the first 20 steps in the morning,” advises Dr. Miltchin. But, if heel pain occurs when walking, then Achilles tendonitis is the culprit. “The Achilles tendon begins behind the knee and forms the calf. In the lower third of the leg it forms and inserts into the rear of the heel bone, so when it over pulls heel pain is significant.”

Treatment: “Reduce pain and swelling with topical anti-inflammatory gels. Orthotics help to support the foot and prevent repeat injury,” advises Dr. Chelin. “Radial soundwave therapy is a three-minute treatment that is done once a week for three weeks. (Cost: $600.) When combined with orthotics and other modalities, such as laser, electromagnetic therapy, ultrasound and taping, it is very effective,” says Dr. Miltchin. In contrast, “Achilles tendonitis should be treated through the use of an Achilles night splint, which is worn to bed for weeks and helps to stretch the calf muscles to relieve pain.” Surgery may be required in more severe cases.  

Foot and Toenail Fungus

Foot fungus, also known as athlete’s foot, caused by spores can affect the skin and nails. “Toe nails that become infected with fungus become thickened, discoloured and misshapen, explains Dr. Miltchin.

Hygiene plays a large role in its formation as fungi thrive in warm, dark and moist environments. “Sometimes foot and nail fungus can develop when one’s immune system is compromised from autoimmune diseases, chemotherapy or some drug therapies,” says Dr. Chelin.

Treatment: “When fungal infections are left untreated, they spread to the toenails. In this case topical medications are still effective. However, “if the infection spreads past the nail and cuticle, topicals will no longer be effective,” advises Dr. Miltchin.

Due to the side-effects on the liver of oral anti-fungal medications, most practitioners prefer the “newer, safer and effective laser treatments. A number of treatments of the Cutera Genesis Plus LASER combined with proper hygiene regimens prove to be very effective.” Cost: $900 for both feet.

Bunions

A bunion is an enlargement of the bone around the big toe joint. “As the deformity progresses the enlargement increases it’s size behind the big toe, making it difficult and painful to wear shoes. Overtime the big toe will shift positions and move over or under the toes next to the big toe,” says Dr. Miltchin.

The main cause of bunions is a hereditary mechanical imbalance in the feet, called overpronation. “With overpronation the feet roll in toward the big toe and results in the instability of the structure causing the bunion to form. Women are more likely to experience bunions because of wearing narrow-fitting heels, which aggravate bunions.” Additionally, bunions occur during pregnancy when ligament laxity is present and in post-menopause when osteoporosis is more common.

Treatment: “By wearing proper footwear, foot orthotics, bunion splints at night and doing foot exercises one can help stabilize and slow down the process of bunion formation. Yet when the progression of the bunion can no longer be controlled, foot surgery to correct the bunion deformity can be performed,” says Dr. Chelin.  

Keep foot problems at bay with these must have foot care products:

13 05 footcare tips remedies products

1. Footlogix Cracked Heel Formula ($25 available in salons, at footlogixretail.com or contact orders@kvggroup.com). 

2. L'Occitane Almond Balm Foot Care ($16 at all L'Occitane boutiques in Canada and loccitane.ca).

3. Footlogix Anti-Fungal Toe Tincture Spray ($24 available in salons, at footlogixretail.com or contact orders@kvggroup.com). 

4. Margaret Dabbs London Footcare Exfoliating Foot Mousse ($38 at select medical spas and clinics, skinsciences.ca).