We rely on our feet more than we care to admit. While many people will do everything to maintain a perfect face, the majority of us hardly bother giving a thought to foot health.
Yet, whether we trek, drive or ride a bicycle/motorbike, we need foot support in all of our activities.
However trendy your dressing is, without proper foot support, many people might not be impressed. If you have the best set of shoes in your wardrobe, you need healthy feet to do them justice.
Beyond the aesthetics, though, physicians warn that the foot is prone to injuries and infections which can linger on for long if we don’t know how to care for our feet.
General Practitioner, Dr. Kunle Awobusayo, warns that foot injuries can be a big problem if neglected. He says too much trekking and wearing of ill-fitting shoes are some of the causes of foot injuries — apart from certain medical conditions, such as the following…
How many times have you experienced unpleasant sensations on one foot or both feet for that matter? These sensations sometimes come in the form of burning, tingling, pins-and-needles, crawling, and electrical shocks, among others.
While they last, it’s almost impossible to engage the feet by way of walking, while one may not even feel anything at all until the symptoms subside.
Awobusayo says if these symptoms occur once in a while and disappear without much ado, there may not be any cause for worry.
However, he says, if the symptoms persist or if they pose much concern, you may have to see the doctor in order to remove the possibility of nerve damage; or to get treatment for one if it has occurred.
Awobusayo explains, “The feet is linked by nerves to the brain. When nerve damage occurs, it may be a result of larger health concerns such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and blood pressure. The physician will run appropriate tests that will pinpoint the problem, and then proceed to prescribe effective treatment.”
The Medical Director of Rainbow Specialist Hospital, Dr. Afokoghene Isiavwe, notes that untreated foot wounds can result in bacterial infection.
Isiavwe, who is also a specialist in diabetic foot care says, “If left untreated, foot infection can cause inflammation of the bone marrow as the infectious bacteria pass through the victim’s bloodstream, especially when we are talking of the longer bones in the legs and arms.
“The skin around the affected area can become swollen, and there could even be symptoms of fever and chills. All these are warnings that open wound in any part of the body — including the foot — must not be left untreated.”
While every symptom of diabetes is a cause for concern, one big problem with diabetes management is what is technically called the “diabetes foot syndrome.”
Isiavwe says diabetic foot ulcer is a major complication of diabetes mellitus, and probably the major component of the diabetic foot.
The physician notes, “The condition occurs in 15 per cent of all patients with diabetes and is responsible for more than 84 per cent of all diabetes-related lower-leg amputations.
“Without early and optimal intervention, the wound can rapidly deteriorate, leading to amputation of the affected limb.”
She adds, “Indeed, it has been estimated that every 20 seconds, a lower limb is amputated due to complications of diabetes. Therefore, early presentation and compliance with treatment are key to successful treatment.”
The diabetologist says when it comes to diabetes foot problem, prevention is better than treating it, hence the need for public enlightenment in that regard.
The reason is simple: when the nervous system is damaged as a result of uncontrolled blood sugar levels, Isiavwe says, the diabetic may not be able to feel sensations in his or her feet properly.
“At this level, normal sweat secretion and oil production that lubricates the skin of the foot may be impaired; and the problem can lead to abnormal pressure on the skin, bones, and joints of the foot during walking.
“All these may result in the breakdown of the skin of the foot, and at that stage, sores are very likely to develop,” the physician notes.
The American Diabetes Association adds, “Damage to blood vessels and impairment of the immune system from diabetes make it difficult to heal these wounds. Bacterial infection of the skin, connective tissues, muscles, and bones can then occur.
“These infections can develop into gangrene. And because of the poor blood flow, antibiotics cannot get to the site of the infection easily. Often, the only treatment for this is amputation of the foot or leg. If the infection spreads to the bloodstream, this process can be life-threatening.”
The bottom line: Your feet take you everywhere. The least you can do is to pamper them by promptly attending to any pain you might feel there.