By Haley Seward
Fashion has its price; after all, not many women wear high heels to be comfortable. But you could be paying a higher price than you thought, in the form of corns, bunions, hammertoes or other foot ailments.
Although it’s hard to give up a stylish pair of heels, they may be more trouble than they’re worth.
What: Thick, hardened layers of skin that form at points of pressure or friction. Calluses form on the bottom of the foot and corns form on top of the foot and between toes. Corns are smaller than calluses and have a hard center, which is painful when pressed. Calluses typically are not painful.
Cause: Repeated friction and pressure from skin rubbing against boney areas or against a shoe. Some people are more prone to these due to heredity.
Treatment: Wearing loose or wide shoes; wearing socks with shoes; medications containing salicylic acid may break down rough skin; trimming or padding of problem areas; surgery.
What: Sideways growth of nail that pushes into surrounding skin. Most often affects the big toe.
Cause: Toe injury, wearing shoes that crowd toes, poor foot hygiene, cutting nails too short or not straight across.
Treatment: Soaking feet in warm water, using antibiotic cream to stop infection, separating nail from skin, removing partial or full nail. Left untreated, an ingrown toenail can infect the underlying bone and lead to a serious bone infection.
Flat foot/fallen arches
What: Structural deformity resulting in non-formation of the arch or lowering of the arch usually due to hyperpronation. Can contribute to ankle/knee problems.
Cause: Some people never develop arches in their feet, while others’ arches fall over time due to weakened tendons from obesity, injury, arthritis, aging or constant wearing of shoes with little to no arch support.
Treatment: No treatment is necessary if you are not experiencing any pain. Wearing supportive shoes, custom orthotics and surgery are options for those with pain.
What: Foot deformities occurring most often in women. A hammertoe has an abnormal bend in the middle joint of a toe. Mallet toe affects the joint nearest the toenail. Both are most likely to occur in the toe next to the big toe.
Cause: High heels or shoes with narrow toe boxes may force toes against front of the shoe, causing unnatural bending.
Treatment: Wear loose, wide shoes with low or no heals to relieve pain/pressure. Shoe pads/supports, toe slings and stretching exercises may help. Pain relievers and corticosteroid injections are options. Surgery is needed for severe cases.
What: Benign growth of nerve tissue often between third and fourth toes. May result in pain, burning, tingling or numbness between toes and in ball of the foot.
Cause: Ill-fitting shoes, trauma, high heeled shoes, heredity, repetitive motion activities, foot deformities.
Treatment: Padding, taping, custom orthotics, cortisone injections, surgery.
What: Painful, abnormal, bony bump on the joint at the base of the big toe formed when the big toes pushes against the next toe, forcing the joint in the big toe to get bigger and stick out. Smaller bunions can also occur on the joint of little toes.
Cause: Often an inherited structural defect, although it can be caused by stress on the foot or a medical condition such as arthritis. Years of wearing ill-fitting shoes, especially high-heeled, pointed shoes, can bring them on.
Treatment: Wearing loose shoes or shoes made of stretchy material that conform to the curves of your foot, custom insoles, padding or taping, icing, pain relievers and cortisone injections can alleviate symptoms. A number of surgical options are also available.
What: Fungal infection under the nail that causes discoloring, thickening and crumbling edges of the nail.
Cause: Heavy perspiration, wearing shoes that crowd toes, wearing socks or shoes that prevent ventilation, diminished blood circulation.
Treatment: Antifungal creams and oral medications, antifungal nail polish, surgical removal of nail, laser or photodynamic therapy.
What: Inflammation of the connective tissue running from the heel to the ball of the foot.
Cause: Severe stretching of tissue, muscle imbalance, bone deformity, foot structure, obesity, trauma, repetitive activities, improper shoes.
Treatment: Anti-inflammatory drugs or corticosteroids, physical therapy, taping, night splints, orthotics, shock wave therapy, surgery.