Get on the right foot by taking good care of yours

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With April designated as National Foot Health Awareness Month, the staff of Roane Medical Center, Harriman, is telling patients to keep their feet pampered this year by practicing good foot health maintenance and recognizing signs of common foot conditions.

According to a recent survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association, nearly 72 percent of Americans experience foot pain that prevents them from exercising.

“Proper foot health maintenance would reduce a lot of foot and ankle injuries, and thus, the surgeries I perform,” said Dr. Mark Hellmann, board-certified podiatric surgeon at Roane Medical Center.

“We need to better educate ourselves about the various foot conditions that are a result of not wearing the correct shoes.”  

Some common foot conditions include bunions, plantar fasciitis and Morton’s neuroma.

Bunions are a prominent bump — or a protruding bone — found on the inside of the foot around the big toe joint.

Commonly experienced by women, bunions can develop from an abnormality in foot function or arthritis, and is commonly exacerbated by wearing improper-fitting footwear.

Another common foot condition, plantar fasciitis, is inflammation caused by excessive straining of the plantar fascia, a broad band of fibrous tissue that runs along the bottom surface of the foot.

When the plantar fascia is excessively strained, plantar fasciitis may occur or even cause heel pain, arch pain and heel spurs.

Also commonly seen by podiatrists is Morton’s neuroma. This common foot problem is caused from an abnormal foot function that leads to bones squeezing a nerve usually between the third and fourth toes.

Symptoms of this condition include sharp pain, burning and even a lack of feeling in the affected area. Morton’s neuroma may also cause numbness, tingling or cramping in the forefoot.

Improper walking is a major cause of foot conditions experienced by many people. The heel swings from side to side as the foot moves.

When the heel swings correctly, the foot can flatten and regain its arch as an individual walks. But if the heel swings too much, the foot may flatten more than it should. Over time, such excess movement may cause foot problems.

Patients who believe they suffer from a foot condition should call their primary care physician or a podiatrist, a physician specializing in the ailments of the feet and ankles.

For a physician referral, call Roane Medical Center at 316-0000.

Roane Medical Center, a member of Covenant Health, aims to offer personalized patient care through quality medical and surgical care, emergency services, prevention programs, rehabilitation support and health education. The hospital staff has expertise in specialized services that include diagnostic imaging, cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation, and many others.

Roane Medical Center also offers services through its subsidiaries, RMC Patricia Neal Outpatient Center, Roane Medical Sleep Center, and Roane Medical Women’s Center.  

Founded in 1939, Roane Medical Center strives to offer the right blends of technical expertise, medical professionalism and hometown values.