The feet and lower parts of the legs support the majority of bodyweight throughout the day when walking around and completing day to day activities. A problem in the feet can quickly become a discomfort that affects daily life.
Getting the right treatment is vital to a proper recovery, if left unattended, foot problems can lead to knee, hip and back pain. Podiatrists can help to diagnose any foot, heel or shin pain and advise on the best route to recovery.
HMT Sancta Maria has recently launched a podiatry service, offering specialist treatment from Tom Cooper, Clinical Director of ACE Feet in Motion. The service is aimed at preventing, diagnosing, treating and rehabilitating conditions to improve the life of those who suffer from foot and lower limb issues.
Many conditions can be managed at home, but if you have sudden, severe or persistent pain, then book an appointment to see a podiatrist. Here are some of the most common foot and lower limb issues, and ones that Sancta Maria’s podiatry service will be treating.
What is it?
The plantar fascia is a flexible tissue that runs under the sole of the foot, connecting the heel bones to other bones in the foot. The plantar fascia absorbs shock to the foot and if damage occurs, the tissue can thicken, causing pain in the heel. This is known as plantar fasciitis.
If plantar fasciitis is diagnosed, rest, exercises and stretches can be done to help improve the symptoms, or fitting insoles inside the shoe to support the foot and help the heel recover.
A podiatrist may recommend either strapping the heel with sports strapping, which relieves pressure, or night splints to keep the toes and feet pointing upwards during sleep, stretching the Achilles tendon and the plantar fascia.
If the symptoms persist and continue to be painful, a podiatric surgeon can perform a plantar release surgery to cut the fascia and reduce tension.
What is it?
If pain and stiffness are experienced along the back of the heal, it could be a sign of damage to the Achilles tendon, some connective tissues that runs along the back of the lower leg. Achilles tendons can also rupture, causing a sudden and severe pain along with a popping sound.
Podiatrists may recommend rest, an ice massage, physical therapy in order to treat Achilles tendinopathy. However, the condition can sometimes take months to improve.
What is it?
Metatarsalgia is the name given to pain in the ball of the foot, it affects the metatarsals, the bones that connect the ankle to the toes. Metatarsals are often a source of pain because they support weight when standing, walking and running.
Resting, an ice pack, shock-absorbing pads or weight loss can help to alleviate the symptoms of metatarsalgia.
If the pain is severe and persistent, a podiatrist may recommend additional treatments such as custom made insoles for shoes, specialist exercises, steroid injections or surgery.
Sprains and Strains
What are they?
Sprains and strains in the ankle and lower leg are very comment and are mainly caused by physical activity. A sprain is when a ligament (connective tissue) have been stretched, twisted or town, while a strain is the stretching or tearing of muscle fibres.
Most sprains and strains can be treated at home with a mixture of protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation while avoiding heat, alcohol, running and massage.
It’s also important to keep a sprained ankle moving, a podiatrist can teach the most effective movement to improve functionality.
A podiatrist may suggest physiotherapy for severe injuries, for muscle strains in particular, to restore movement and function.
Podiatrists can help to improve a variety of conditions in the foot or lower limb area, drastically improving the lives of people who are living in pain.
Tom Cooper, at HMT Sancta Maria’s podiatry service, can offer treatment for many common conditions like the ones above, as well as shin/calf pain and knee/hip and back pain.
To book an appointment at our Swansea hospital’s new service, call reception on 01792 479 040.
HMT also operates St Hugh’s Hospital in Grimsby, reach them on 01472 251 100.