Healthy Living: Foot Ailments
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Fun foot fact: The human foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles and tendons.
Not-so-fun foot fact: Three out of four American adults will at some point in their lives experience foot pain severe enough to seek treatment (or at least put them on a quest for sensible shoes).
To be sure, the foot is a complex body part and an engineering wonder, one that can withstand an awful a lot of pressure (up to one-and-a-half times our body weight with every step; four to six times that when we run). But too often it isn’t until they start misbehaving that we give our feet the attention they deserve.
Stephanie Lennon of Newtown loves to hike and ride horses, but for three years she was bothered by persistent pain in her toes. While not debilitating, it was extremely uncomfortable (“If I tried to put on high heels, forget it,” she says), so the 54-year-old finally decided to seek relief.
“I got three opinions before I felt comfortable with the doctor, the diagnosis and the treatment,” she says. A diagnosis of joint degeneration and bone spurs prompted a recommendation of surgery to excise the spurs and shorten the metatarsal bone to give the joint more room to move.
The surgery kept Lennon off her feet for more than four weeks, but she’s back to walking her dogs and looks forward to riding soon.
“The numbness and swelling have gone down, I have to limit my walking, and I’m still not back into my regular shoes,” she says, but so far, she’s pleased with the result. “I hemmed and hawed for a long time, but I’m glad I did it. I am even planning to have the surgery on my other foot. I didn’t want to live like that. I wanted a better quality of life.”
Both podiatrists and orthopedic surgeons say that a lot of mid-life foot pain is due to normal aging, athletic activity later in life and our penchant for fashionable footwear (spike heels and flip-flops being equally to blame). From Achilles pain to warts, the list of foot fails is long so we decided to take a look at a few of the most common conditions.
Some may surprise you.