British political comedian John Oliver blasted the roof off of the Year 2016 in a recent episode that appeared on Last Week Tonight. His year-end show began with a montage of photographs that symbolized major “calamities” in the U.S and abroad (anti-establishment Brexit campaign, migrant and refugee crisis, violent protests, Trump/Pence victory, Flint Michigan water crisis, and natural disasters) that justified erasing this past year off the Roman calendar.
Video clips of people on the street in the U.S. and Britain were played to confirm their frustrations. A slew of celebrities
like Kathy Griffin, Larry David, and Weird Al Yankovich joined the street people to flip their middle fingers to 2016!
As a clicking sound of a clock played in the background, John Oliver pushed down on an explosive device in a football stadium to blast gigantic, illuminated numbers into smithereens. Then, John Oliver rose up in front of the fire ball and said, “that’s our show, let’s all try better next year!”
At our foot and ankle clinics, we have consulted with thousands of patients who also hated 2016 but for a different reason; they all had nagging foot problems. They are sick and tired of being in pain, sick of losing mobility, sick of giving up normal activities, and embarrassed about their ugly toes. None of them wanted a quick, temporary fix. They wanted to be restored back to their original condition and to recapture their normal, independent lifestyles. We told them that 2017 can be a year of correction and positive change. Here are some helpful tips we gave them to end foot pain in 2017.
Resolution 1. Give your feet a break Choose the right footwear for all occasions this year. Pitch the old sneakers or athletic shoes that have been lying around in your closet or gym locker. Ask your podiatrist for some tips to select a shoe that is designed for the fitness activity and for your feet. If it’s not possible to pitch your high heels, at least wear them wisely. There is nothing beautiful about painful feet and shoe wear that leads to bunions, hammertoes, plantar fasciitis, ingrown toenails, neuromas, or ankle sprains. Select shoes that provide proper arch support, flexible soles, and room for your toes. Wearing them wisely means scaling down the heel height, wearing them less often, slipping into a pair of flats when you get to work, or not wearing them if you know you are going to be on your feet for any considerable amount of time or walking far distances. Make a healthier choice of shoes this year. Your feet and your body will appreciate this.
Resolution 2. Start moving but start smart! Physical activity contributes to your health and can provide benefits
to your feet. Select activities that you enjoy and get your feet moving. Don’t rush into fitness. Start smart to avoid injuries like shin splints and plantar fasciitis (heel pain). A steady, gradual program is more beneficial in the long run than an intense program that puts undue stress on your feet. Avoid running on uneven surfaces and terrain, and incorporate cross training into your fitness program to reduce the stress on your feet. As William Faulkner said, “Don’t bother just to
be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”
Resolution 3. End bunion pain and discomfort! In the majority of cases, most patients with bunion problems can be effectively treated with conservative treatments at home. The use of wider and roomier shoes with arch supports, orthotics, and pads can relieve pressure on the big toe and reduce pain. Felt pads and moleskin patches are also commonly used for this condition. Swelling and pain can be treated with nonsteroidal and anti-inflammatory drugs. Ice, rest, and elevation are simple ways to treat this condition. Non-surgical treatments cannot correct a bunion deformity, but,
in most cases, they should be tried before considering surgery. Surgery becomes an option when conservative treatments do not improve your symptoms or alleviate pain. Surgery is generally needed when the pain of a bunion
interferes with daily activity. The goals of bunion surgery are generally four-fold: to relieve pain, to remove the bunion, keep it from returning, and to correct the alignment and mechanics of the foot. If done correctly, the appearance of the foot will most likely improve. Seek a skilled surgeon to reduce or eliminate your pain and who is able to select the best options for you to reduce recovery time and scarring.
Resolution 4. Don’t let hammertoes cramp your style! Hammertoes are one of the most common foot deformities.Typically, this condition begins in early adulthood and continues to get worse with age. Some of the factors contributing to the
development of hammertoes include a tendon or toe muscle imbalance, trauma to a toe, pronation of the foot, flat feet,
high arch, excessively tight calf muscles, or genetic factors. Women however, are more prone to have hammertoe problems because of their shoes. Their condition gets worse over time if they wear poorly fitted shoes that cause their toes to be in an unnatural position, narrow shoes that constrict the foot bones, or open back shoes without straps that cause the toes to grab the shoes when walking. Many women with this condition have been muddling through life in pain and reluctantly stopped doing physical activities they once loved. Any activity that required a bit more walking or standing became difficult without adding another layer of padding to their toes or shoes. Playing tennis or running was even more challenging, and many “just called it quits.” Non-surgical treatments cannot correct a hammertoe deformity, but, in most cases, should be tried before considering surgery. Surgery becomes an option when conservative treatments do
not improve your symptoms or alleviate pain. There is no single surgical procedure that is best for everyone because each patient is different. After a thorough assessment, your surgeon will determine if surgery is the best option. Multiple
surgical procedures are available. Your surgeon may mix and match procedures to customize the best treatment for you.
Resolution 5. End heel pain now! Heel pain is one of the most common pathologies that podiatrists see. It commonly occurs among people between 40 to 60 years of age; however, it can present itself at almost any age. Heel pain is generally classified as a repetitive stress injury. It can be particular debilitating for people who work on their feet and
require long hours of weight-bearing activities. It can also cause you to curtail or stop doing recreational and fitness activities you love doing.
Most patients have a tendency to live with their heel pain as long as 8 to 10 months before seeking medical assistance. After coming in for treatment, most patients leave with complete pain relief and wish they had come in substantially sooner. The most common form of heel pain is plantar fasciitis. Other causes of heel pain is Achilles tendonitis, heel bumps, heel bursitis, inflamed heel pad, tarsal tunnel syndrome, stress fracture, and Severs disease (which is prevalent in
children and teenagers). Simple conservative measures such as rest, icing, antiinflammatory medication, footwear modifications, using supportive inserts and custom orthotics, stretching, and physical therapy will help 90 to 95 percent of people with heel problems. Talk with your podiatrist or foot surgeon about alternate and surgical treatment measures if conventional measures do not alleviate your pain.
Happy New Year!
It’s hard not to refute a lot of the misery associated with 2016, but, for me, it was a year my prayers were answered.
My daughter Sophie was born, the Cubs won the World Series, and Journey was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall
of Fame. We hope 2017 is a year of positive change for you! Take steps to end your foot problems and to improve your quality of life.
If you are seeking assistance from advanced foot and ankle surgeons, call the Foot & Ankle Center of Illinois at 217-787-2700. Visit the myfootandanklecenter.com for more information on bunions, hammertoes, and heel pain. View a short video on advanced laser treatments for pain therapy and toenail fungus.