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Common Foot Myths Trip Us Up

Breaks, corns, bunions: Experts deliver the facts

FRIDAY, Sept. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Did you know that it's possible to walk on a broken foot?

It is, but many people believe that it is not possible to do so -- and then exacerbate the damage to their broken foot by walking.

That's just one of the "foot myths" the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons is seeking to dispel.

Another myth: cutting a notch in a toenail can relieve the pain of ingrown nails. Not so, say the foot surgeons. The notch won't affect the growth of the nail, which is curving down and growing into the skin. Cutting a notch may just cause more pain and troubles, they warn.

And for those who want to blame shoes for their bunions, foot doctors say, "not so fast." Blame your parents instead, because bunions are most often caused by an inherited faulty foot structure. Certain foot types increase the risk of bunion growth, although ill-fitting shoes can and do worsen the pain. You can change your shoes, but realize only surgery can correct the foot deformity.

Nineteen out of the 26 bones in your foot are in the toes, and many people believe there's little doctors can do to speed healing in these tiny bones. But physicians can help broken toes heal better, which, in turn, can help prevent local arthritis or deformities. So, if you suspect you have a broken toe bone, get an expert opinion. A doctor will likely X-ray the digit and may even insert a pin, screw or plate to realign the bone.

Finally, that unsightly corn on your toe doesn't actually have a "root" in your foot. A corn is a small buildup of skin with a hard core, caused by friction where the toe knuckle rubs against the shoe. It's usually related to having a hammertoe, and only surgery on the toe can reduce the risk of corn growth. Doctors warn that attempting to cut off a corn or applying medicated corn pads can lead to serious infection or amputation, so wait for your doctor's recommendation before addressing the problem.

As for that foot you think isn't broken? Get an ankle surgeon to look at it and, until then, keep it elevated and iced, the experts said.

More information

To learn more about better foot and ankle care, visit the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.

-- Madeline Vann

SOURCE: American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, news release, Aug. 29, 2007

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