Published: 2012-01-30 08:08:17
From eating better foods to getting an adequate amount of sleep and exercise, we're a very health-aware society. So why is it that many Americans routinely overlook one of the cornerstones of good health?
While nearly 70 percent of Americans say they want to be healthier five years from now, just 51 percent recognize that foot health can be a key to achieving that goal, according to a survey from the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA).
"Nearly eight in 10 adults have experienced some type of foot ailment in their lives. Yet despite the pain, close to three in 10 do nothing about it, simply choosing to live with their pain," says Dr. Michael King, a podiatrist and president of APMA. "Meanwhile, more than half of those surveyed said they had endured foot pain at some point in their lives but have not sought treatment from a podiatrist."
So what are the five most common types of foot problems and what causes them? Here are some tips from today's podiatrists:
* Nail problems are one of the most prevalent foot woes in both men and women. These problems can range from ingrown toenails to fungal infections. Ingrown toenails - a condition in which the corners of sides of a nail dig painfully into the soft tissue of the nail grooves - is the most common form of nail problem. To avoid ingrown toenails, trim nails straight across and don't dig into the corners. If a toenail becomes infected, see a podiatrist immediately for treatment. Those with diabetes, peripheral vascular disease and other circulatory disorders should seek a podiatrist's care on a regular basis to help prevent complications.
* Sweaty feet and foot odor are two foot conditions that are often experienced together. While stinky feet are definitely embarrassing, feet that sweat excessively can lead to other foot problems, even creating an environment conducive to the development of athlete's foot. Closed shoes make feet sweat, but in the winter you can't avoid wearing them. Instead, practice good foot hygiene. Wash feet daily with soap and water, keep shoes and socks dry, and choose socks that wick away moisture. Change shoes and socks regularly and consider rubbing cornstarch or applying antiperspirant directly onto the soles of your feet.
* Pain in the ball of the feet - Nearly one-third of adults have reported pain in the balls of their feet. Pain in this location can be caused by over-exertion, injury or ill-fitting shoes. To avoid, always wear well-fitting, supportive and activity-appropriate shoes when walking, running or engaging in other physical activity. If necessary, replace the insoles that came in the shoes with ones that provide additional cushioning.