Though the term podiatry did not come into use until the early 20th century, doctors have been treating foot problems for thousands of years. The Ancient Egyptians recorded work on hands and feet in bas-relief carvings that date back to 2400 BC. Centuries later, the father of Western medicine, Hippocrates, wrote of treatments for calluses and corns. Most historians agree that he invented the skin scraper, which is still used to reduce hard skin on the feet and toes.
Podiatry is now a highly respected and high paying medical specialty. In a recent story about the best paid professions in the United States, Podiatry came in at number 15! The reason for the sudden and profitable rise of podiatry is simple-lots of people have foot problems. According to reliable reports, four out of five adults will suffer from a foot problem at some point in their lives. The issue could be as minor as a corn or as serious as plantar fasciitis.
Why they hurt?
Our feet really are remarkable structures. Each is composed of 26 bones, 33 joints, and a complex network of tendons, ligaments, vessels and veins. Not to mention powerful muscles and versatile arches. They are both durable and delicate at the same time. If you have ever been tickled on the soles of your feet, you know what we mean! When properly protected by a socks and shoes, our feet are incredibly strong.
On average, feet absorb two to three times our body weight with each stride. If the average 175-pound person takes 6,000 steps each day that means each foot will absorb between 2,100,000 and 3,150,000 pounds before bed. It is no wonder foot problems are so common! Let us take a moment to review a few of the most common issues and their treatments.
Calluses and Corns
Skin is not only our largest organ; it is also one of the most versatile. It changes shades and even thickens in order to protect the body. Calluses and corns form when pressure is applied to our skin and it grows thicker in response. Because no area of the human body is exposed to more pressure than our feet, calluses and corns frequently form there. This is particularly true of female patients, who often wear shoes with slender straps and pointed toes that force feet into unnatural positions. It is for this reason that woman are far more likely to visit podiatrists than men. And when they do, they often complain of calluses and corns.
Neither condition is terribly serious, but both can be painful. Even when they are small, corns and calluses can make walking difficult. Most develop on the sole, on the outside pinky toe, or on the hallux (big toe). Foot defects or abnormal anatomy may make callus or corn formation easier, but most are simply the result of tight shoes and/or too much walking.
Because they are so common, most people (mostly women) try to treat their corns and calluses at home. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, as long as you know what you're doing. Calluses and corns can cause pain when they get too thick. The first thing any foot pain sufferer should do is switch to looser, more comfortable shoes. This will stop the callus or corn from getting even thicker. If you still feel pain with each step, it may be a good idea to add padding to your shoe in the spot where the callus or corn makes contact with the shoe. Callus or corn pads are sold at most pharmacies and drugstores.
If the callus or corn still hurts and makes it hard to walk, it may be time to see a doctor. But in most cases minor irritation or discomfort can be managed with pads and soaking. Resting you feet in warm water for about twenty or thirty minutes each night should help soften up thick, callused skin. Scrubbing the affected area may also relieve the pressure that is caused by a corn. There are also softening creams that can be applied to the affected area on a daily basis.
All of these home solutions have been tested and are regularly recommended by licensed podiatrists. The only word of warning we have for corn and callus sufferers is that they should never, ever try to cut off or remove them. They are not blisters or other minor skin conditions. If you try to remove them on your own, they will simply grow back, and thicker!
Common foot problems can be safely and affordably treated at home with the right foot care
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