Most people experience some type of foot pain from time to time. If serious and persistent, foot pain is an indication that you should see your podiatrist or foot specialist. But often there are simple things you can do to relieve minor issues and stay comfortable.
Here’s a list of some typical foot complaints and what you can do about them:
- Sometimes just switching shoes is enough to give your feet a break. Especially if you like to wear hard-soled dress shoes, a switch to a soft-soled pair may provide instant relief.
- Women who wear flats often complain of sore or tired feet. If you must wear thin-soled flats, try finding a pair with some cushioning to the soles.
- Calluses (areas of hard skin) frequently develop on the soles, and especially on the balls of the feet. You can use a pumice stone to gently remove the thickened skin. The pumice stone is best applied when your feet are dry. Cushioned pads for the ball of the foot (commercially available) may also be helpful.
- Ingrown toenails can be a painful issue. They are easily treated by a foot specialist, but if that’s not an option, use a nail clipper and carefully trim away the corner of the nail that is digging in. Sometimes, soaking in lukewarm water and Epsom salts can also provide relief.
- Corns on the tops of the toes can be especially painful. It’s best not to use commercial acid preparations on corns, as this can damage the surrounding skin. Rather, try some pads that you can place around the area of pressure to relieve shoe irritation. In some cases, it may be necessary to switch shoes.
- Dry skin can be bothersome. Often, very dry skin around the heels starts to crack and become sore. Applying moisturizer or foot cream on a daily basis can be helpful.
- Arch fatigue is common, especially if you wear sandals a lot. Switching into a supportive athletic shoe may provide relief. A foot massage can also help, as can using a ball to massage the soles of your feet. Some people feel relief from massaging their feet with a plastic water bottle that’s been frozen. Caution: Don’t use ice on your feet if you are diabetic or have compromised circulation.
- Soreness between your toes may mean that you have an athlete’s foot infection. This may show as a whitish discolouration or cracking of skin in the web space between your toes. Sometimes athlete’s foot can develop when going barefoot in shoes. For treatment of this condition, see your foot specialist or physician, who will likely prescribe an antifungal preparation. As preventive measures, always wear socks in your shoes and dry well between your toes after showering.
- Painful pressure points on your feet can be the result of wearing ill-fitting shoes or athletic footwear. Skates or ski boots can often cause a problem as well. “Moleskin” padding from a pharmacy may help reduce irritation. In my office, we dispense 1/8” adhesive pads that can alleviate pressure when placed around the point of irritation.
- Scrapes or small cuts on the foot should be attended to. If you can’t see a foot specialist or a physician, cleanse the area and apply an antibiotic cream and bandage strip for protection.
- Tired feet and sore arches or ankles may also be relieved with Coban™ elastic wrap. Made by 3M, this self-adhesive elastic bandage comes in a roll and can be wrapped around your foot or ankle for compression and support.
While “bathroom surgery” on your feet is never a good idea, a little care and attention can go a long way in enhancing foot comfort. Of course, any serious medical concerns with your feet, whether it’s pain, inflammation, infection, or other issues, should be brought to your foot specialist or physician.