With a Little Effort, Pretty, Healthy Feet Can Be Yours.
Talking about feet makes a lot of folks feel silly. After all, a body part that’s the subject of the children’s rhyme “This Little Piggy” can be hard to take seriously. And while having a lighthearted attitude about our feet is surely OK, as anyone who’s ever experienced foot pain will tell you, podiatric problems can be anything but funny.
“People should realize that foot pain isn’t normal,” says Dr. Teresa Burtoft of the Foot Health Center of Merrimack Valley in North Andover. “Too often people wait until they’re in a lot of pain to come see us, when, if they had come sooner, their problem could have been easily resolved.”
According to Burtoft, the most common patient complaint in her office, which sees up to 30 new patients a week, is heel pain. “People do silly things,” Burtoft says. “They walk 10 miles wearing flip-flops and think, ‘oh, nothing will happen,’ but it does.”
Sprains and plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the tissue that connects the heel bone and toes along the bottom of the foot) are painful conditions that can be caused by improper footwear and poor habits, such as forgetting to stretch before or after working out. But, Burtoft says, if your feet hurt, it’s important to know precisely why.
That’s because foot problems can be symptoms of more serious heath concerns, including diabetes, spinal injuries and even Lyme disease, according to Dr. Timothy Downs of New England Foot & Ankle, which has offices in Newburyport and Chelmsford. “Some people come in with foot trouble and don’t even know they’re diabetic,” he says.
In addition to wanting our feet to feel good, we want them to look nice when the weather warms up. According to Burtoft, treatment for unsightly foot problems including warts and nail fungus should begin a few months before you want to show off your toes, as it can take a several visits before these conditions clear up completely.
And though they’re not covered by insurance, cosmetic services for unattractive feet are also available. Burtoft and Downs both offer a product called KeryFlex, a toenail restoration system that lasts a few months and can cover discolored or partially missing nails. The Foot Health Center also has its own nail salon. “We had so many people coming in with problems resulting from pedicures at traditional salons,” Burtoft says, “that we decided to open our own.”
So if you’ve been putting off seeing a podiatrist, it’s time to reconsider. Modern amenities such as in-office laser surgery, laser treatments for warts and nail fungus and in-house X-rays can make diagnosis and treatment quick and convenient and will help you get back on your feet in no time.
Summer Foot Care Tips from Drs. Burtoft and Downs
1. Be sure your footwear is appropriate for the activity. Flip-flops are OK if you’re sitting at the movies, but not if you’ll be walking for more than a few minutes.
2. You don’t have to say no to sandals. Several brands are available that offer good support.
3. Always moisturize your feet. They’ll look nicer, and healthy skin is your first defense against disease.
4. If you get a salon pedicure, don’t allow the technician to cut into your cuticles. Doing so can introduce fungus and bacteria to the nail bed and cause infection.
5. See a podiatrist at the first sign of foot problems or recurring foot pain.
For more information:
Dr. Teresa Burtoft
Foot Health Center of Merrimack Valley
North Andover, Mass.
Dr. Timothy Downs
New England Foot & Ankle
Chelmsford & Newburyport, Mass.
(978) 441-9241 or (978) 463-0086