The feet have one of the toughest jobs in the body. Basically, two rather small appendages are tasked with allowing a body that might weigh well over 100 pounds to stand upright and to walk. It is no wonder that human beings are plagued with foot problems. Here are four of them:

Hammertoes

Hammertoes are also called mallet toes. The toe develops a bend in the middle phalanx that makes it resemble a hammer or mallet. Hammertoes can be caused by shoes that are too tight and force the toes to bunch up, from an injury or from something wrong with the muscles, ligaments and tendons that control your toes. Sometimes all that’s needed to relieve the pain of a hammertoe is to find proper footwear or putting orthotics in your shoe. If the hammertoe is severe, it can be surgically removed.

Bunions

A bunion is a bump at the side of the joint of the big toe that causes the toe to point inward toward the other toes. Bunions often take years to develop, and thanks to ill-fitting but fashionable shoes and high heels, women are much more susceptible to bunions than men are. Though self-care can ease the pain of a bunion, only surgery can correct it. You should consult your podiatrist if you’re considering surgery to remove a bunion.

Ingrown Toenails

In this foot problem, one of both edges of your toenail grow into the flesh of your toe. Like a bunion, it most often happens to your big toe. Because the nail can break the skin, an ingrown toenail may become infected if it’s not seen to. You’re at risk for ingrown toenails if you clip your toenails too far back, if your nail is unusually curved and, again, if you wear shoes that fit poorly. Treat them by soaking your feet, keeping them dry when they’re not soaking and wearing the right footwear.

Corns and Calluses

Corns and calluses are thickening of your skin. Corns are most often seen in the joints and the skin between your toes. A callus can be seen anywhere, but is likely to be discovered on your heel or other places on your foot that are under pressure. Again, culprits are poorly fitting shoes. Your podiatrist can cut or shave off the corn or callus or apply topical medicines to dissolve it.

Feet are fairly miraculous instruments, and it’s up to you and your podiatrist to make sure that they are healthy and well-supported. That way, they can keep you sanding and moving for decades.

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