Category Archives: General Foot Care

What is a Podiatrist?

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A podiatrist, also known as a podiatric physician, is essentially a doctor for your feet. They are trained to diagnose and treat all conditions of the foot, ankle and related structures of the leg. Podiatrists are the most qualified primary care practitioners to care for your feet.

After a  four year undergraduate degree and further post graduate training in specialised areas podiatrists work and specialise in many related fields, including sports medicine, paediatrics (children), surgery, wound care and diabetic care. Podiatry is the only medically registered profession that specialises in foot and lower limb care and registration ensures an ongoing commitment to continuing education. This makes sure the current and best practices in foot and lower limb care are not only practiced but governed by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

Podiatrists are also recognised by national bodies such as Sports Medicine Australia, The Australian Podiatry Association, The Australian Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, and The Australasian College of Podiatric Surgeons. Each of these bodies provides comprehensive and continuing educational programs to enable members to be at the forefront of best care practice.

At The Melbourne Foot Clinic we are proud to have a wide variety of talented and committed podiatrists that cover the total range of foot and leg problems. Each practitioner is registered and associated with varying national specialisation associations.

The wide range of conditions we treat include:

  • Foot Pain
  • Stress Injuries
  • Flat Feet
  • Ingrown Nails
  • Wounds
  • Bunions
  • Corns
  • Callous
  • Warts
  • Infections
  • Fungus
  • Nail Replacement (Keryflex)

If you are not sure whether a podiatrist will be able to treat you presenting concern our receptionists will be more than happy to answer any further queries that you may have.

Arthritis and Your Feet

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Arthritis is an inflammatory condition that can affect any joint in the body. There are many forms of arthritis and the more common forms include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is common in older people and results from general wear and tear of the joints over time. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition where the body ‘attacks itself’ causing the joints to break down.

Arthritis can lead to pain and stiffness of the joints and in severe cases can prevent participation in daily activities or even impact on walking.

Symptoms of arthritis include:

  • Pain and swelling of the joints
  • Presence of redness or inflammation around the joints
  • Tenderness when pressure is applied to the joint
  • Increased pain and stiffness in the morning or after long periods of rest
  • Difficulty walking due to the symptoms listed above

Currently there is no cure for arthritis however there are many treatment options available to slow the progression of the disease and to minimize the pain and discomfort allowing individuals to continue on with their daily lives.

Treatment for arthritis in the foot and lower limb can include:

  • Weight loss to minimize stress placed on the joints
  • Modification of activities to lower impact activities such as cycling or swimming
  • Supportive and correctly fitting footwear
  • Orthotics

Your Podiatrist will carefully assess the severity of the condition and can recommend appropriate footwear. This can allow problem joints more room, reducing the risk of other injuries such as blisters, corns and callouses that can be caused by shoes rubbing on swollen areas.

Orthotics can also be specially made to provide your feet with extra support and to give you more stability, making it easier to get around. There are also exercises you can do to help keep the joint moving, which will help relieve the stiffness and pain you may be experiencing. These treatments can greatly improve the quality of life, general comfort and mobility for a patient suffering with arthritis.

Tips for Toenail Cutting

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Correct methods for toenail cutting are important for providing not only comfort for the individual, but also to remain pain and infection free. Ingrown toenails occur when a nail becomes lodged in the skin and does not grow normally. They are one of the major causes of foot discomfort and pain. Some nails have a tendency to grow inwards and may need to be corrected with a small surgical procedure (see nail surgery).

If you learn how to trim your nails properly you may be able to stop ingrown nails developing. When cutting nails, cut straight across the nail and avoid cutting down the sides or into a curved shape, multiple cuts can be used for each nail. It is also important to make sure that you do not cut the nails too short. Nails should be cut when they are dry as wet nails are likely to tear. Use appropriate nail clippers, and keep all tools you use for your nails disinfected, this can be done with an alcohol wipe before and after use. If using a nail file or emery board gently more it across the nail in a single direction until the desired length is reached, do not drag it back and forth across the nail. Nail cuticles should not be cut as this could lead to bleeding or infection.

Remember everyone’s nails will grow at different rates so there is no set time as to when they should be cut, just keep an eye on them and give them a trim before they start rubbing on your shoes and causing pain.

School Shoes – The Perfect Fit

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School Shoes are an important fit to get right as kids can take up to 16,000 steps day.

Things to look for in a good school shoe are:

  • Leather upper and quality stitching to provide good durability
  • Rubber sole to increase shock absorption and durability
  • Leather lining to allow for breathability
  • Shock absorbing midsole to protect the foot during high impact activity
  • Flexible forefoot to allow for adequate bending (required by the foot when walking)

It is important to remember that just because a shoe goes on without protest doesn’t make it a good fit. Get shoes correctly fitted by shoe specialists.

It is also important not to buy school shoes too big to allow ‘growing room’ as an incorrect fit can lead to tripping and injuries, especially if the child is running around. Having said that a small amount of growing room doesn’t hurt especially if an insole is added and this can usually be fitted into the shoe at the shoe shop when purchasing.

Don’t forget that if you have any queries or concerns come and visit one of our podiatrists to have your child’s feet assessed. Early detection and treatment for childhood foot conditions can go a long way in reducing functional problems later in life.

Keryflex Nail Restoration System

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Podiatrists commonly see a wide variety of nail disorders. They can range from short term nail damage caused by trauma, genetic abnormalities or severe fungal infections. Experienced podiatrists are experts in diagnosing and offering appropriate management for the wide ranging conditions that can affect the nails and their appearance.

One of the treatments we specialise in is the Keryflex Nail Restoration System.

Essentially this is a cosmetic treatment to improve the appearance of nails. It can be for nails that are permanently damaged for which there are no other treatment options available to improve their appearance or for a short term cover up of a nail whilst it is recovering from trauma.

Matthew Dilnot and Stephanie Carter have been using the Keryflex Nail Restoration System for over a year at Melbourne Foot Clinic and we have been extremely happy with its results. To date we have used it across a wide range of nails. A number of our clients have long term damaged nails that are permanently thickened and very slow growing. In our practice we are able to reduce and sculpt their nail back to a more normal thickness and then recreate an entirely artificial nail over the top. There is a need for approximately 15% or more nail left at the base for the new artificial nail to attach to.

The cost of this treatment is a consultation fee plus the cost of one kit of Keryflex priced at $80.00. The client is then supplied with the Keryflex kit and we generally are able to complete 3 treatments per pack. Normally nails need to be “filled” and trimmed every 3 months after their first application.

Keryflex can be used for partially damaged nails that require minor filling and can even be used during the treatment of fungal nails whilst patients are undergoing oral antifungal treatment.

 

Chilblains

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Chilblains are a painful inflammation that often occurs in the toes due to sudden changes in temperature such as putting cold feet onto a heater or hot water bottle. They are characterized as swollen, itchy skin that is often blue, red or white in appearance; and they can involve burning sensations or blistering. Chilblains do not permanently damage the tissue however in serious cases if left untreated can lead to ulceration. Often chilblains occur in individuals overly sensitive to changes in temperature or with poor circulation, such as children, the elderly or people with diabetes. Females or underweight individuals also have a higher susceptibility to chilblains than the general population.

The exact cause of chilblains is unknown however it is thought that they are associated with poor circulatory responses to changes in temperature. To respond to changes in temperature the circulatory system undergoes opening and closing of blood vessels to regulate the amount of heat that is lost via evaporation to the skin. When the vessels open and close to rapidly by-products from the blood are not removed and can lead to irritation of the skin.

Because chilblains are often associated with poor circulation it is important to exercise regularly to promote circulation. This can be as simple as getting off your desk and going for a walk every few hours; it is also important to avoid tight shoes as these can further contribute to reduced circulation.

Chilblains are also associated with winter as sudden temperature changes are common as individuals move from the cold outside to heated buildings. To help prevent the formation of chilblains individuals can ensure they are wearing suitable footwear for winter that doesn’t leak as well as warm socks (no thongs or sandals) and see a podiatrist for regular professional treatment and foot health checkups.

If you believe that you have been suffering chilblains and symptoms have not subsided for 2-3 weeks it is important to consult a podiatrist or GP for a medical opinion.

Treatment Tips:

  • Avoid sudden temperature changes – resist the urge to place feet on the heater
  • Perform gentle exercises to warm the body and promote blood flow
  • If skin over chilblain is unbroken, rub deep heat into affected area to improve blood flow
  • Visit podiatrist for reoccurring chilblains or if the skin is broken

Foot Facts

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¾ of people experience serious foot problems in their lifetime.

The foot contains 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles.

¼ of all the bones in the human body are down in your feet. When these bones are out of alignment, so is the rest of the body.

Only a small percentage of the population is born with foot problems.

It’s neglect and a lack of awareness of proper care – including poor fitting shoes – that bring on problems.

Women have about four times as many foot problems as men. High heels are partly to blame.

Walking is the best exercise for your feet. It also contributes to your general health by improving circulation, contributing to weight control and promoting all-around well being.

Your feet mirror your general health. Conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, nerve and circulatory disorders can show their initial symptoms in the feet – so foot ailments can be your first sign of more serious medical problems.

There are 250,000 sweat glands in a pair of feet. Sweat glands in the feet excrete as much as a 500ml of moisture a day.

Walking barefoot can cause plantar warts.

The two feet may be different sizes. Buy shoes for the larger one.

About 5% of Australians have toenail problems in a given year.

The average person takes 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day, which adds up to about 185,000 kilometers over a lifetime. That’s enough to go around the circumference of the earth four times.

There are currently more websites on the Internet having to do with foot fetishes than with foot health.

The average child will take its first steps around 13-17 months – but between 10 and 18 months falls within the “normal” range.

During the first year of a child’s life their feet grow rapidly, reaching almost half their adult size. By 12, a child’s foot is about 90 per cent of its adult length.

When walking, each time your heel lifts off the ground it forces the toes to carry one half of your body weight.

The first foot coverings were probably animal skins, which Stone Age peoples in northern Europe and Asia tied around their ankles in cold weather.

Cigarette smoking is the biggest cause of Peripheral Vascular Disease (disease of the arteries of the feet and legs) that often leads to pain on walking, ulceration, infection and in the most severe cases – gangrene and possible amputation.

Around 40 per cent of Australians will experience some form of foot problems in their lifetime.
Foot disorders in the elderly are extremely common and are the cause of much pain and disability, and consequent loss of mobility and independence.

Children’s feet are mostly cartilage when they are born and the bones will keep growing and developing throughout childhood and adolescence.

Children’s feet grow rapidly in childhood, often changing sizes in months.

Children’s feet will reach almost half their adult foot size by the age of 18 months.

Up to one third of children aged between 4 and 6 years of age suffer from ‘growing pains’ in the feet and legs.

An estimated 10-20 per cent of children have flat feet (flat feet in children are not necessarily a problem but if they are causing pain, affecting mobility or interfering with activities, they should be investigated.

By the time we reach 50 we have lost up to half the shock absorbing capacity of the natural foot pad.

Our feet absorb 1.5 to 2 times our body weight during normal walking and up to 4 times our body weight when jogging.