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Our Feet - The One We Stand On

Personal CareThe foot is an intricate structure of our body that bears the entire weight from child hood to adult and even in old age. The bones in the feet make up about one-fourth of all the bones in our body. Each foot comprises 26 bones. According to medical science, it takes 33 joints, 19 muscles, 107 ligaments and innumerable tendons to hold the bones firmly in place and help them move in a variety of different ways and angles. Besides, each foot has about 125,000 sweat glands that excrete moisture all through out the day.

The human foot consists of:

- Seven thick, short, tarsal bones that forms the structure of the heel and back of the instep. 
- Five parallel metatarsal bones that form the front of the instep. These metatarsal bones spread toward the front of the foot in order to form the ball of the foot. 
- Fourteen smaller phalanges that comprises the toes. (The large toe has two, each smaller toe has three.) 
- Tough bands of innumerable tissues (ligaments) that connect the bones and hold them firmly in place. 
- The tarsal and metatarsal bones help in the formation of the two arches of the foot. 
- A thick layer of fatty tissue is present under the sole; this helps the arches to absorb and cushion the pressure and shocks of walking, running and jumping.

Common foot problems:

By the time you reach the age of 50, you will have walked approximately 75,000 miles. If you take good care of your feet, they will serve you well without much problem. If you do not, as is the tendency in most human beings, you are prone to suffer from corns, ingrown toenails and other foot related problems. According to the sensex, around 20 percent of Americans have more than one foot health problem every year. Although some problems may be inborn and may result due to some accidents, it is possible to treat and cure almost all foot related problems.

Corns and calluses occur when the top layer of skin gets thickened in response to pressure exerted by bone if you are wearing a tight fitting shoe. This thickened area causes irritation to the underlying skin. This gives rise to localized soreness associated with walking. Corns most commonly occur on the big toe and fifth toe. Calluses can also be found underneath ends of foot bones. Soft corns generally develop between the toes.

Achilles tendonitis : It causes irritation and inflammation of the tendon that takes part in attaching calf muscles to the back of the heel bone.
A bunion is an enlargement at the joint of the big toe, causing the skin over the joint to become swollen and tender making the area painful. A bunion can also occur if you are sitting cross-legged for long periods.

Hammertoes is a special type of toe deformity. In this case, the toes permanently bend in the middle toe joint, that makes it appear like a claw. Hammertoes are common with the second toe. It turns worse when a bunion slants the big toe toward and under it. Tight shoes can make the situation worse and more painful and can also result in forming a corn.

Heel pain is quite common and often associated with a growth of bone on the forepart of the heel bone. This occurs when a tendon pulls at its attachment to the heel bone. This can result in calcification to form a spur but the pain can be from a variety of causes and should be treated immediately.

Ingrown toenails occur when nails whose corners or sides dig painfully deep into the skin.

Morton's neuroma is a benign thickening of the membrane around the nerve that occurs generally between the third and fourth toes and also sometimes between the second and third toe. Tight shoes results in squeezing the foot bones together, causing pain.

Plantar warts look like calluses and occur on the sole of the foot. They develop the tendency to grow inward due to pressure and gives pain.

Stress fractures are cracks ( incomplete) in bone. They occur during high-impact activities, such as running where the muscles tire and fail to absorb shock. The muscles as a result, transfer the overload of stress to the bone, causing it to hurt and then eventually crack.

Fungal infections like Athlete's foot of the foot are common in hot, moist environment. This kind of weather is conducive to fungal growth. Some fungi thrive on toenails, causing problems like nail discoloration, thickening of nails and separation from the bed.

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the fibrous tissue that occurs at the bottom of your foot that connects the heel bone to your toes.

All the above mentioned conditions are curable if treated with care. You have to see a trained podiatrist to help you solve all your foot problems. Remember, the feet we stand on is one of the precious structure, since it helps to carry our body from one place to another.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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