The foot is made up of 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, 19 muscles, and numerous tendons. Complex biomechanics keep all these parts in the right position and moving together. Given these intricacies, it is not surprising that most people will experience some problem with their feet at some time in their lives.
Within each foot, the essential structure can be summed up as follows:
- Seven short tarsal bones make up the heel and back of the instep.
- Five metatarsal bones spread from the back of the foot toward front and make up the structure for the ball of the foot. Each metatarsal is associated with one of the toes.
- Fourteen phalanges, small bones, form the toe structure.
- Tarsal and metatarsal bones provide the structure for the arch of the foot.
- Bands of ligaments connect and hold all the bones in place.
- A thick layer of fatty tissue under the sole helps absorb the pressure and shock that comes from walking and everyday movements.
Foot Care Tips
- Don’t ignore foot pain. It is not normal. If you experience any type of persistent pain in the foot or ankle, please contact our office.
- Inspect your feet regularly. Pay attention to changes in color and temperature. Look for thick or discolored nails (a sign of developing fungus), and check for cracks or cuts in the skin. Peeling or scaling on the soles of feet may indicate Athlete’s Foot. Any growth on the foot is not considered normal.
- Wash your feet regularly, especially between the toes, and be sure to dry them completely.
- Trim toenails straight across, but not too short. Be careful not to cut nails in corners or on the sides; this can lead to ingrown toenails. Persons with diabetes, poor circulation, or heart problems should not treat their own feet, because they are more prone to infection.
- Make sure that your shoes fit properly. Purchase new shoes later in the day when feet tend to be at their largest, and replace worn out shoes as soon as possible.
- Select and wear the right shoe for each sport or activity that you are engaged in (e.g., running shoes for running).
- Alternate shoes—don’t wear the same pair of shoes every day.
- Avoid walking barefooted. Your feet will be more prone to injury and infection. At the beach or when wearing sandals always use sunblock on your feet.
- Be cautious when using home remedies for foot ailments. Self-treatment may turn a minor problem into a major one.
- If you are a diabetic, please contact our office and schedule a check-up at least once a year.
Seeing a doctor
Seeing a doctor is definitely the best course of action if you are diabetic or have circulation problems, as well as troubles with your feet. Likewise, if you are under the continuing care of a physician for another reason — such as pregnancy, problems associated with aging, significant overweight, or high blood pressure — or if you have recently had surgery, you would do well to discuss your foot pain, and the best treatment for it, with your doctor.
In addition to the special situations in which you should always seek a doctor’s care, you should see a doctor any time you experience severe pain or any time a seemingly minor problem does not seem to be getting better despite self-care strategies.