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Foot Tips

With 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 muscles and tendons, the human foot is an incredibly complex structure. While feet may not be the most beautiful parts of our body, don't take yours for granted.

The foot and ankle are major parts of the body. They can handle enormous amounts of pressure thanks to the complex structure of bones, joints, muscles and tendons. They also provide support, balance and mobility. It's important to take good care of our feet and ankles, but many of us don't do as well as we should. 

Alleviate foot pain/heel pain

What can I do to alleviate foot pain/heel pain until my appointment?

  • Wear good supportive lace-up shoes at all times. (If you will be buying new shoes go to a reputable shoe store for proper shoes and fitting.)
  • Do not go barefoot.
  • Wear arch supports/orthotics if you've been given some by a physician.
  • Avoid using ladders.
  • Avoid walking on uneven ground.
  • Ice area 3-4 times a day for 15-20 minute at a time (Do not ice if you have compromised circulation.)
  • Do wall stretches twice daily (10 stretches per leg. Hold each for 10 seconds to stretch the calf.)
  • Stretch the foot before getting out of bed. Do this by holding the foot at the base of the toes and pull the foot towards you to create a stretch in the arch.
  • If you do not have a history of stomach problems or stomach ulcers, take a prescription anti-inflammatory prescribed by physician or Ibuprofen.

Care for an ingrown nail

How do I care for an ingrown nail to prevent it from becoming infected?

  • Don't pick at the affected nail border, let it grow out and then cut it straight across.
  • Massage the tissue away from the nail.
  • Do not wear shoes that are narrow or tight-fitting in the toes.
  • Soak the foot daily in warm, soapy water to keep it clean.

Plantar warts

How can I get rid of my plantar warts?

  • It is best to be evaluated by a podiatrist to be sure it is a wart so appropriate treatment can begin.
  • If you don't have problems with circulation issues to the foot, you can try over-the-counter topical medications. Keep the medication away from healthy tissue by applying Vaseline around the outside of the wart.
  • Try applying duct-tape over the wart keeping it on until it begins to fall off, then put a new piece over the wart. Do this over and over until the wart goes away.

Foot soaks

What should I use for foot soaks?

  • Luke-warm water and Epsom salts for 15-20 minutes.
  • Luke-warm soapy water with an antibacterial liquid soap.

Bunion surgery

How long will I be off work after bunion surgery?

This depends on the type of work you do. Someone who has a job where they can remain seated with their foot elevated will be able to return to work quicker, than an active job in which someone is on their feet. Also, some jobs require specific shoes/boots and will not compromise. After surgery, plan to be in a surgical shoe (open toe) for at least 4 weeks. The time to return to work will be based on healing of soft tissue and bone, and also your specific job requirements. It takes bone 6-8 weeks to heal.

Driving post-op

Can I drive with a post-op shoe/boot or removable cast?

No. It is never a good idea to drive with a surgical shoe/boot or removable cast. We will always recommend no driving especially if it is your right foot, or you use a clutch. Law enforcement could find you at fault if involved in an accident while driving with one of these.

Toe nail fungus

What can I do to prevent toe nail fungus?

Fungus likes warm moist environments. If you tend to have sweaty feet, use foot powder and change your soaks more frequently. Fungal infections can be contagious. Athlete's foot can lead to nail fungus if not treated. Don't go barefoot in public places such as the shower at the gym or in a locker room. Don't share shoes or socks with those who have fungal toenail fungus.

Best socks

What are the best socks to wear?

  • White socks for diabetic patients, especially with peripheral neuropathy.
  • Cotton or other absorbent material sock for sweaty feet.
  • Smartwool (cost about $15/sock) sock for cold feet.

Lotions for feet

What lotions are best to use on the feet?

Creams that contain Urea.

Smelly shoes and feet

What can I do about smelly shoes and feet?

  • Don't wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row.
  • Change your socks and shoes at least once a day.
  • Bathe your feet daily in lukewarm water, using a mild soap. Dry thoroughly.
  • Dust your feet frequently with a non-medicated baby powder or foot powder.


What are the signs and systems of gout?

  • Sudden onset of red, hot, swollen joint.
  • The inflammation of the tissues around the joint also causes the skin to be swollen, tender and sore if even slightly touched. For example, a blanket or even the lightest sheet draping over the affected area could cause extreme pain.

Gout diet

What about a gout diet?

Foods to avoid: Beer, anchovies, organ meat (brains, kidney, liver, sweetbreads), game meats, gravies, yeast, meat extracts, sardines, herring, mackerel, scallops.

Foods to eat in moderation: Fresh and saltwater fish, shellfish, eel, meat, poultry, meat soups and broth, asparagus, mushrooms, cauliflower, spinach, legumes, oatmeal, bran, wheat germ, whole-grain breads and cereals, eggs.

No restriction on these foods: Breads and cereals (low-fiber, white flour or refined grain types), nuts, peanut butter. Vegetables not high in purines (kale, cabbage, parsley, green-leafy vegetables), soups - cream style or vegetable without meat extract, coffee, tea, fruit juices, soft drinks, gelatin, sugar, low fat cheeses.

Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System staff deliver great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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