Foot problems

An engineering miracle combining grace,  durability and sensitivity – it’s an apt description of the human foot.  Perhaps one of the most neglected parts of the body, generally hid­den  from sight, the importance of feet is only fully appreciated when  something goes wrong. Healthy feet, in good working order give us the  joy of movement. Pain­ful, unhealthy feet make us feel tired and  irritable and take the pleasure out of life.Foot problems have plagued the human race since time immemorial.  Chiropodists (or podiatrists as they are increasingly known) give two  reasons for this. First, the foot has not yet completed the evolutionary  development made nec­essary when our ancestors straightened up from the  crouched position (in which they helped themselves along with their  hands). The second factor is that our feet, made for walking on  yielding, uneven surfaces – grass, sand, earth – must now pound hard  pavements.The foot has two basic functions: to adapt to the surfaces on which  we walk or run and absorb the shock of impact; to take the body weight  from above and move it forward. Consider the punishment the foot absorbs in a lifetime. As we move,  it goes through three forward motions; heel impact; a transitional  balance phase as the weight moves forward; the thrust of the toes as the  sequence is repeated on the opposite foot. Walking at a com­fortable  100 steps a minute pace, each heel strikes the pavement with the  equiv­alent of a 225lb jolt 50 times a minute. As we walk an average of  115,000 miles in a lifetime, that means tens of millions of jolts for  each foot. But the foot is built to withstand many kinds of stresses, so  long as the health of its complex struct­ures is maintained. The arch  of the foot counteracts much of the shock of pound­ing it gets with each  step.

Marigold therapy for foot problems 

So important are our feet to our well­being that they need and  deserve as much attention as we give to our face. Yet the reality is  that most of us tend to ignore their basic needs and generally treat  them with disrespect. Small wonder that countless people hide away their  feet because they are ashamed of them. With a little effort on a regular basis, self-treatment of the more  common problems can restore ailing feet. Marigold Therapy is a proven  way of doing this. Painless, quick-acting and without allergy reactions,  it consists of topical applications – oil, tincture, mass, ointment and  cream. Many chiropodists currently use it in conjunction with  chiropodial treatments. The gentle, non-invasive action of Marigold Therapy makes it ideal  for self-help. It is based on homeopathic principles, the products are  prepared homeopath­ically and used in combination with other homeopathic  medicinal plants.

Caution 

Do not attempt self-treatment if you have any of the following:  diabetes, circulatory problems, infection, poor eyesight, unsteady hand.Know your limitations. If self-treat­ment doesn’t improve your condition, see a qualified chiropodist/podiatrist.

Common Foot Problems

Achillo-bursitis – inflammation of the Achilles tendon in the heel as a result of shoe friction.
Athlete’s foot – very common, highly  infectious condition caused by a fungus which can be picked up in  communal areas or by wearing other people’s shoes. When between the  toes, it is characterised by moist, broken skin, an unpleasant smell and  itching. When on the ball of the foot, it causes the skin to peel. On  the heel it creates deep painful fissures which can sometimes bleed.
Bunion – seen more in women than men,  there can be a hereditary tendency but wrongly-shaped or badly fitting  shoes are the usual cause. Constant pressure on the big toe joint  produces inflammation with consequent pain, stiffness and swelling of  the soft tissues and enlargement of the joint. The usual advice is for  an operation, all too often with unsatisfactory results. Despite the  prescribed long rest, many people have complications, a painful scar and  inflamed foot being common. There is also a long waiting list for  bunion surgery. The so-called tailor’s bunion appears on the side of the  little toe.
Corns, callous & fissures – can appear  on any part of the foot as a result of constant, excessive pressure and  friction. Corns can be hard (usually on top of toes), soft (between  toes), neuro-vascular, vascular and seed. The most common site for  callous is on the ball of the foot.
Fungal infection of nails – a toe-nail  (usually the big toe) may become thickened and/or discoloured due to  trauma to the nail plate from shoes, allowing fungus to enter.
Gout – inflammation of the big toe joint which can appear overnight due to an excess of uric acid in the body.
Ingrown toe-nail – occurs when the side  of the nail cuts through surrounding skin. The area becomes very  sensitive to pressure and continued pressure may cause redness, swelling  and eventually, infection. Removal of part or the whole of the nail and  treatment of infected tissues requires professional attention.  Homeopathic podiatry can speed recovery and prevent recurrence.
Poor nail condition – dry, brittle or  thin, soft can be due to pressure and friction accompanied by a  constitutional deficiency of mineral salts or could arise from the side  effects of drugs taken for a systemic problem.
Verucca – a common viral infection of  the skin, veruccae (warts on the foot or hand) are a problem for more  and more people who use communal areas such as swimming baths, sports  and health clubs. Some stubborn veruccae do not respond well to  conventional medication. Surgical treatment can be painful and often  causes scarring.

Treatment guide 

Marigold therapy consisting of topical applications only has been  shown to be speedier in action and more success­ful than oral remedies  for many common foot problems. Some conditions, how­ever, also require  constitutional treat­ment. It is recommended that biochemic tissue salts  are tried first and then homeopathy if necessary, 6c or 30c. Remedy selection should be in accordance with the patient’s  symptom­atology and the materia medica and prescribed in accordance with  usual homeopathic practice. If self-treatment doesn’t improve your  condition, see a professional.  Please see the tables in the PDF version  of this article for suggestions of homeopathic medicines you can try.

Routine foot care

Wash feet at least once a day with mild  soap and warm water, using soft brush for nails. Dry gently and  thoroughly, especially between toes. As a preventative treatment against some  common foot problems, apply all over feet and between toes Khan’s  Tagetes (Marigold) Tincture and Oil, first a few drops of tincture and  then a few drops of oil massaged in for one minute. If skin is dry use  oil only. Three times a week give feet a salt bath  (1 tablespoon of salt to a bowl of warm water) to relieve aching, tired  feet and stiffness and improve circulation.
Keep toe-nails clean. When trimming,  don’t cut too short. If toes are normal, cut nails straight across. If  any toes are deformed, cut to shape of toe. Don’t use razor blades or other sharp objects, or medicated corn pads.
Don’t put cotton wool between toes. It will harden and increase pressure or irritation.
Go barefoot whenever possible while indoors but not elsewhere.
Don’t wear shoes without hosiery.
Daily foot exercises
On getting up stand on tiptoe five times.
Place a strong rubber band over the two big toes and gently pull toes apart ten times.

Daily foot exercises

On getting up stand on tiptoe five times.
Place a strong rubber band over the two big toes and gently pull toes apart ten times.

Guidance on footwear 

Shoes need to accommodate the shape of the foot and its function as  it helps the body to move. Badly fitting or wrong shaped shoes can cause  painful foot problems.Buy shoes, preferably when you have been  on your feet for some time, to suit the shape and structure of your feet  – not fashion. This is especially important for working shoes worn for  long periods. Most people have a larger foot. Fit to allow this and  allow 13mm space between the tip of the shoe and your longest toe. The  foot is squarish in shape – not pointed. Pointed toe shoes don’t give  feet enough room. Square, high toe-boxes are best for your feet. Your  new shoes should bend easily at the ball of the foot and the heel should  fit snugly. Buy leather. It adapts to the shape of the foot, absorbs  moisture and vaporises this into the air. Without this, feet get hot and  perspire profusely. Athlete’s foot fungus thrives in dark, damp, warm  places.High heels (over 39mm) are not good for  the feet. They thrust too much body weight forward, often into very  narrow-toed shoes. Foot problems which may have been dormant, such as  hammer-toes, bunions, corns and callouses, are aggra­vated by wearing  high heels regularly. Prolonged wearing can also lead to mus­cle  imbalance in the lower limbs which in turn can cause lower back  problems.Rotate the shoes you wear. Never wear the  same pair two days in a row. It takes 24 hours for your shoes to dry  out – and back into shape – after wearing. Keep shoes repaired.  Worn-down heels upset foot balance.Wear appropriate shoes for specific  activities, for example when walking or standing a great deal, it is  essential to have well-fitted, supportive shoes with either a lace up or  adjustable bar or fastening.Trainers are comfortable but shouldn’t be  worn routinely. Check socks, stock­ings and tights for proper fit. They  shouldn’t be too tight. Change daily. Whenever possible wear cotton or  wool.

M. Tariq Khan PhD BSc BSc(PodMed) SRCh  FLS DFHom(Pod) is Podiatry Tutor to the Faculty of Homeopathy & Consultant Podiatrist. The Marigold Trust is a registered charity for homeopathic podiatric medicine. ww.marigoldtrust.com


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