What is the Relation Between Arthritis and the Feet?

Can be Avoided with Early Diagnosis

What is Arthritis?
Arthritis, in general terms, is inflammation and swelling of the cartilage and lining of the joints, generally accompanied by an increase in the fluid in the joints. Arthritis has multiple causes; just as a sore throat may have its origin in a variety of diseases, so joint inflammation and arthritis are associated with many different illnesses.

Arthritis is a frequent component of complex diseases that may involve more than 100 identifiable disorders. If the feet seem more susceptible to arthritis than other parts of the body, it is because each foot has 33 joints that can be afflicted, and there is no way to avoid the pain of the tremendous weight-bearing load on the feet.

Arthritis is a disabling and occasionally crippling disease; it afflicts almost 40 million Americans. In some forms, it appears to have hereditary tendencies. While the prevalence of arthritis increases with age, all people from infancy to middle age are potential victims. People over 50 are the primary targets.

Use a Proper Footwear

Reduce Foot Problems

Children’s Shoes - When a child begins to walk, shoes generally are not necessary, allowing an infant to go barefooted in doors, or to wear only a pair of socks, helps the foot grow normally and develop its muscles and strength, as well as the grasping ability of toes. As children grow more active, and their feet develop, the need for shoes becomes apparent. It becomes necessary to change shoe sizes at a pace that frequently surprises and even dismays parents, to allow room for growth.

When purchasing shoes for children, remember these tips:

  • Examine the shoe itself. It should have a firm heel counter (stiff material on either side of the heel), adequate cushioning of the insole, and a built-in arch. It should be flexible enough to bend where the foot bends at the ball of the foot, not in the middle of the shoe.
  • The child’s foot should be sized while he or she is standing up with full weight-bearing.
  • There should be about one-half inch of space (or a thumb’s width) between the tip of the toes and the end of the shoe. The child should be able to comfortably wiggle his or her toes in the shoe.
  • Have the child walk around the store for more than just a few minutes wearing the shoe with a normal sock. Ask the child if he or she feels any pressure spots in the shoe. Feel the inside of the shoe for any staples or irregularities in the glue that could cause irritation. Examine where the inside stitching hits the foot. Look for signs of irritation on the foot after the shoe is worn.
  • Shoes should not slip off at the heels. Children who tend to sprain their ankles will do better with high-top shoes or boots.
  • Both feet should be measured, and if two different sizes, shoes should be chosen that fit the larger foot best.

What is Athlete's Foot?

Is a Skin Disease

Athlete's foot is a skin disease caused by a fungus, usually occurring between the toes. The fungus most commonly attacks the feet because shoes create a warm, dark, and humid environment which encourages fungus growth. The warmth and dampness of areas around swimming pools, showers, and locker rooms, are also breeding grounds for fungi. Because the infection was common among athletes who used these facilities frequently, the term "athlete's foot" became popular.

Not all fungus conditions are athlete's foot. Other conditions, such as disturbances of the sweat mechanism, reaction to dyes or adhesives in shoes, eczema, and psoriasis, also may mimic athlete's foot.

Symptoms.- The signs of athlete's foot, singly or combined, are drying skin, itching scaling, inflammation, and blisters. Blisters often lead to cracking of the skin. When blisters break, small raw areas of tissue are exposed, causing pain and swelling. Itching and burning may increase as the infection spreads.

Athlete's foot may spread to the soles of the feet and to the toenails. It can be spread to other parts of the body, notably the groin and underarms, by those who scratch the infection and then touch themselves elsewhere.

The organisms causing athlete's foot may persist for long periods. Consequently, the infection may be spread by contaminated bed sheets or clothing to other parts of the body.

Heel Pain Has Many Causes

Seek Medical Attention

In our pursuit of healthy bodies, pain can be an enemy. In some instances, however, it is of biological benefit. Pain that occurs right after an injury or early in an illness may play a protective role, often warning us about the damage we've suffered.

When we sprain an ankle, for example, the pain warns us that the ligament and soft tissues may be frayed and bruised, and that further activity may cause additional injury.

Pain, such as may occur in our heels, also alerts us to seek medical attention. This alert is of utmost importance because of the many afflictions that contribute to heel pain.

Heel Pain.- Heel pain is generally the result of faulty biomechanics (walking gait abnormalities) that place too much stress on the heel bone and the soft tissues that attach to it. The stress may also result from injury, or a bruise incurred while walking, running, or jumping on hard surfaces; wearing poorly constructed footwear; or being overweight.

The heel bone is the largest of the 26 bones in the human foot, which also has 33 joints and a network of more than 100 tendons, muscles, and ligaments. Like all bones, it is subject to outside influences that can affect its integrity and its ability to keep us on our feet. Heel pain, sometimes disabling, can occur in the front, back, or bottom of the heel.

Foot, Ankle and Diabetes

If You Have Diabetes Should Do This

  • Wash feet daily. Using mild soap and lukewarm water, wash your feet in the mornings or before bed each evening. Dry carefully with a soft towel, especially between the toes, and dust your feet with talcum powder to wick away moisture. If the skin is dry, use a good moisturizing cream daily, but avoid getting it between the toes.
  • Inspect feet and toes daily. Check your feet every day for cuts, bruises, sores or changes to the toenails, such as thickening or discoloration. If age or other factors hamper self-inspection, ask someone to help you, or use a mirror.
  • Lose weight. People with diabetes are commonly overweight, which nearly doubles the risk of complications.
  • Wear thick, soft socks. Socks made of an acrylic blend are well suited, but avoid mended socks or those with seams, which could rub to cause blisters or other skin injuries.
  • Stop smoking. Tobacco can contribute to circulatory problems, which can be especially troublesome in patients with diabetes.
  • Cut toenails straight across. Never cut into the corners, or taper, which could trigger an ingrown toenail. Use an emery board to gently file away sharp corners or snags. If your nails are hard to trim, ask your podiatrist for assistance.
  • Exercise. As a means to keep weight down and improve circulation, walking is one of the best all-around exercises for the diabetic patient. Walking is also an excellent conditioner for your feet. Be sure to wear appropriate athletic shoes when exercising. Ask your podiatric physician what’s best for you.
  • See your podiatric physician. Regular checkups by your podiatric physician—at least annually—are the best way to ensure that your feet remain healthy.
  • Be properly measured and fitted every time you buy new shoes. Shoes are of supreme importance to diabetes sufferers because poorly fitted shoes are involved in as many as half of the problems that lead to amputations. Because foot size and shape may change over time, everyone should have their feet measured by an experienced shoe fitter whenever they buy a new pair of shoes.
  • New shoes should be comfortable at the time they’re purchased and should not require a "break-in" period, though it’s a good idea to wear them for short periods of time at first. Shoes should have leather or canvas uppers, fit both the length and width of the foot, leave room for toes to wiggle freely, and be cushioned and sturdy.

What is a Fungal Nail?

Description and Tips

Onychomycosis is an infection of the bed and plate underlying the surface of the nail, and is caused by various types of fungi, which are commonly found throughout the environment. Fungi are simple parasitic plant organisms, such as molds and mildew, that lack chlorophyll and therefore do not require sunlight for growth. A group of fungi called dermatophytes easily attack the nail, thriving off keratin, the nail's protein substance.

When the tiny organisms take hold, the nail may become thicker, yellowish-brown or darker in color, and foul smelling. Debris may collect beneath the nail plate, white marks frequently appear on the nail plate, and the infection is capable of spreading to other toenails, the skin, or even the fingernails.

Because it is difficult to avoid contact with microscopic organisms like fungi, the toenails are especially vulnerable around damp areas where people are likely to be walking barefoot--swimming pools, locker rooms, and showers, for example. Injury to the nail bed may make it more susceptible to all types of infection, including fungal infection. Those who suffer chronic diseases, such as diabetes, circulatory problems, or immune-deficiency conditions, are especially prone to fungal nails. Other contributory factors may be a history of athlete's foot and excessive perspiration.

Bone Spurs

Foot and Ankle Disease

Bone spurs are bony projections that develop along the edges of bones. Also called osteophytes, bone spurs often form where bones meet each other in your joints. Bone spurs can also form on the bones of your spine.

The main cause of bone spurs is the wear-and-tear damage associated with osteoarthritis. Most bone spurs cause no symptoms and may go undetected for years. Bone spurs may not require treatment. Decisions about treatment depend on where spurs are located and how they affect your health.

Most bone spurs cause no signs or symptoms. Often you don't even realize you have bone spurs until an X-ray for another condition reveals the growths. In some cases, though, bone spurs can cause pain and loss of motion in your joints.

Morton's Neuroma

Definition and Symptoms

Morton's neuroma is a painful condition that affects the ball of your foot, most commonly the area between your third and fourth toes. Morton's neuroma may feel as if you are standing on a pebble in your shoe or on a fold in your sock.

Morton's neuroma involves a thickening of the tissue around one of the nerves leading to your toes. This can cause a sharp, burning pain in the ball of your foot. Your toes also may sting, burn or feel numb.

High-heeled shoes have been linked to the development of Morton's neuroma. Many people experience relief by switching to lower heeled shoes with wider toe boxes. Sometimes corticosteroid injections or surgery may be necessary.

All you Want to Know About Hammertoes

Causes and Risks


Hammertoe and mallet toe have been linked to:

  • Certain shoes. High-heeled shoes or footwear that's too tight in the toe box can crowd your toes into a space that's not large enough for them to lie flat. This curled toe position may eventually persist even when you're barefoot.
  • Trauma. An injury in which you stub, jam or break a toe may make it more likely for that digit to develop hammertoe or mallet toe.
  • Nerve injuries or disorders. Hammertoe and mallet toe are more common in people who have nerve damage in their feet, which often occurs with such medical problems as a stroke or diabetes.