As a registered nurse, your day usually involves a great deal of walking, so foot care is not a luxury, but an absolute necessity. In these economic times, the thought of losing employment over foot problems is not a pleasant thought. Fortunately, the American Podiatic Medical Association (APMA) has accurate information and guidance for nurses.
The Anatomy of the Foot
The foot contains 26 bones, 33 joints, and a network of over 100 tendons, muscles, and ligaments. Add all the blood vessels and nerve endings, and you have a very complex body part! Working all together, the foot endures tremendous pressures involved in daily living. An average day of walking brings a force equal to several hundred tons to bear on the feet. But wait… you’re not an average person. You are an educated professional nurse! So pay attention to these tips from the APMA.
Common Foot Ailments
Some foot troubles stem from hereditary issues, but most are due to a lifetime of abuse and neglect. Be informed, and seek appropriate medical care when required.
- Blisters are caused by skin friction. Don’t pop them. Keep your feet dry; wear socks as a cushion between your feet and shoes. If a blister breaks, wash the area, apply an antiseptic, and cover with a sterile bandage.
- Bunions are misaligned big toe joints that can become swollen and tender. Bunions tend to run in families, but can be aggravated by shoes that are too narrow in the forefoot and toe.
- Corns and calluses are protective layers of compacted, dead skin cells. They are caused by repeated friction and pressure from skin rubbing against bony areas or against an irregularity in a shoe. Never cut corns or calluses with any instrument, and never apply home remedies, except under a podiatrist’s instructions.
- Heel pain is usually traced to stress on the heel bone, ligaments, or nerves in the heel area of the foot. Stress could result while walking or jumping on hard surfaces, or from poorly made footwear. Being overweight is also a major contributing factor to heel pain.
- Heel spurs are growths of bone on the underside of the heel bone. Both heel pain/heel spurs are often associated with plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the long band of connective tissue running from the heel to the ball of the foot.
- Ingrown nails are nails whose corners or sides dig painfully into the skin, often causing infection. They are frequently caused by improper nail trimming but also by shoe pressure, injury, fungus infection, heredity, and poor foot structure. Toenails should be trimmed straight across, slightly longer than the end of the toe, with toenail clippers.
Tips for Nurses
According to the APMA, the best shoe is a walking shoe with laces (no slip-ons). When shopping, always have your foot measured while standing, try on both shoes and walk around the store. Buy shoes for the larger foot; feet are rarely the same size. Make sure shoes fit well in the front, back and sides. And remember, do not buy shoes that need a “break-in” period, as shoes should be comfortable immediately. Some additional tips to keep yourself healthy:
- Don’t ignore foot pain—it’s not normal. If the pain persists, see a podiatric physician.
- Inspect your feet regularly. Pay attention to changes in color and temperature of your feet.
- Wash your feet regularly, especially between the toes, and be sure to dry them completely.
- Trim toenails straight across, but not too short. Be careful not to cut nails in corners or on the sides; it can lead to ingrown toenails.
- Make sure that your shoes fit properly. Purchase new shoes later in the day when feet tend to be at their largest and replace worn out shoes as soon as possible.
- Avoid walking barefoot to minimize injury and infection. Use sunscreen on your feet just as on the rest of your body.
Taking care of your feet is vital. Unlike shoes, you do not get issued another pair. For additional information on foot care, refer to the APMA website.