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Toe Woes - what goes wrong with feet

Stay a step ahead of clients' needs by learning to recognize the most common woes that may cause pain and disfigurement to clients' toes.

Three out of every four Americans will have problems with their feet at least once in their lifetime. Combined with the fact that women experience four times as many foot health problems as men, it’s a sure bet that most clients will complain of one or more foot disorders at some time. And little wonder: With 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, and 19 muscles, the foot is a complex structure that stands up to a lot of pressure.

According to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), most Americans log 75,000 miles on their feet by the time they reach the age of 50.

Fortunately, APMA affirms that the foot and ankle are well designed to handle the stresses of living on the run. Even so, without early detection and intervention, disorders of the feet can sideline otherwise fit individuals. Not only do the conditions detailed below cause pain and discomfort in the feet, but also the adjustments people make to their gait can lead to pain in the knees, hip, and lower back.

Regular pedicures paired with an attentive home maintenance regimen serve as excellent preventive measures. Stay a step ahead of clients’ needs by learning to recognize the most common non-nail-related conditions that may cause pain and disfigurement to clients’ toes.While you can’t diagnose clients or recommend treatment, rate a 10 in customer service by alerting them to potential problems and referring them to a podiatrist or primary physician

Bunions: Bone Gone Beastly

According to The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS), more than half of American women suffer from a bunion (a misalignment of the joint where the big toe attaches to the forefoot).As the joint enlarges, the big toe tends to drift into — or even under — the second toe. This shift of the big toe combined with the enlargement of the metatarsophalangeal joint results in a bony protrusion that looks bad and feels even worse. The overlying skin can redden and swell in response to constant rubbing from shoes as well as from the simple act of walking.

This joint flexes with every step you take,”states AOFAS’ patient education materials. “The bigger the bunion gets, the more it hurts to walk.” Other symptoms may include restricted motion of the big toe and corns and other skin irritations between the first and second toes.

Don’t buy the story that bunions are hereditary: Foot specialists agree that while you can inherit the faulty foot mechanics that make some more prone to developing bunions, many bunions can be directly related to a history of wearing tight- or ill-fitting shoes.

“Nine out of 10 bunions happen to women,” states the AOFAS.“Nine out of 10 women wear shoes that are too

small.” Poor-fitting footwear, in fact, gets the blame for most foot disorders, making it critical to put shoe fit over fashion (see “10 Shopping Tips to Make the Shoe Fit” at end of this story).

Advise clients who suspect they may be developing a bunion to seek treatment from a podiatrist or orthopedist.

Doctors can recommend several options — such as pressure-relieving pads, arch supports, and orthotic devices — to ease pressure, alleviate pain, and perhaps slow or stop the disease progression.According to the APMA, other options to reduce stress and pain include bunion pads, anti-inflammatory medications, ice packs, and ultrasound therapy.

None of these options correct the joint misalignment behind the bunion, however, and many foot specialists say that some people find no relief from the sometimes debilitating pain without surgery.And while surgery is no walk in the park, doctors have innovated numerous new surgical techniques to correct bunions that allow many patients to walk almost immediately wearing a special shoe.

Clients with bunions can certainly enjoy pedicures, and absolutely will benefit from the skin and nail care — just take care to avoid putting pressure on the bunion or manipulating the deformed joint. Follow the client’s lead during the massage to determine her comfort zone. Doctors also recommend keeping soak water on the cool side because heat can magnify inflammation. Many women with bunions will develop corns on top of or between toes. Corns can cause significant discomfort in and of themselves, particularly when they thicken. Some doctors urge pedicurists to defer thinning the corn, while others say it’s safe to reduce them with a callus file or exfoliating cream. Use your best judgment, but take care not to thin the corn too much — and to never cut it.

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