How Healthy Are You? Check Your Feet

January 16, 2017

Three out of four Americans experience serious foot problems in their lifetimes, but until problems happen, people tend to forget about their feet.

With regular foot care, however, it’s possible to prevent or reduce many foot and ankle problems, which is important because feet reflect a person’s overall health. A foot ailment can be the first sign of more serious medical issues such as arthritis or diabetes.

If you need relief from a foot injury or have a long-term condition that isn’t getting better, specialists at Mercy Clinic Podiatry – S. Jackson Suite 102 and Mercy Clinic Podiatry – Carthage can help.

Dr. Elizabeth Barnica and Dr. Jared Stanton are available for appointments in Carthage. Both can treat a variety of conditions, including foot and ankle fractures, bunions, athlete’s foot, fungal toenail infections, flatfoot and plantar fasciitis.

Podiatrists treat foot and ankle problems in patients of all ages. This includes musculoskeletal and nerve problems, as well as skin and nail conditions.

That variety in podiatry is partly what drew Dr. Barnica to be interested in the specialty since she was a teen.

“Podiatry is a mix of taking care of people, working in a clinical setting and performing surgery,” she said.

An important, but forgotten, part of foot care is how well shoes fit and their affect on toenails and other parts of the foot, Dr. Barnica said.

“Proper shoes and fit are really important to help prevent foot problems,” she said. "You don’t want to measure your feet from heel to toe anymore. You want to measure from the heel to where your foot bends, which usually results in a bigger shoe size.”

Measuring from heel to ball helps in choosing the correct-size shoe that will give the toes plenty of space and prevent jamming of the toes at the end of the shoe.

“If we’re constantly putting our feet in too-tight shoes, we’re damaging toenails, which may contribute to the development of fungal nails and hammer toes,” she said.

Because various brands have their own shape to the bottom of their shoes, it’s unlikely that one specific brand will work for every person’s feet, according to Dr. Barnica.

“Look for a brand that fits what your foot needs,” she said regarding toe box, arches and heel width. Particularly important is looking for a stability or motion-control shoe if you have a flexible flatfoot.

Dr. Barnica is a board-qualified podiatrist who joined Mercy Clinic in July. She received her doctor of podiatric medicine from the Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in North Chicago, Illinois. She completed her residency in podiatric medicine and surgery with reconstructive rear foot and ankle accreditation from Dr. William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin.

For more information about Mercy Clinic Podiatry – S. Jackson Suite 102, 3126 S. Jackson Avenue, Suite 102, call 417-556-2278. Mercy Clinic Podiatry – Carthage on the Mercy Hospital Carthage McCune-Brooks Campus, 3125 Dr. Russell Smith Way, call 417-556-2278.

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