Monitoring often key in foot care

HOUGHTON – From the moment a person gets out of bed, they’re relying on their feet to get them through the day. So it’s important they’re kept in good condition.

People should perform daily self-checks on their feet to see if there any any changes, said Jen Peavy, a registered nurse and foot care specialist with Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital. Things they should look for include pressure sores or increased swelling. Because many patients who seek foot care will have decreased sensation, they’re also asked to be on the lookout for wounds and bruises from stepping on things.

Based out of Aspirus’s Laurium clinic, Peavy, Deborah Gruver and Cathy Taskila have also been making monthly visits to Aspirus’s Houghton clinic since April. Foot patients usually come to the clinic every two months, or sooner if they have problems such as calluses or fungal toenails.

One of the most common foot-related ailments is poor circulation. That can stem from peripheral vascular disease, diabetes, smoking or inactivity.

Signs of poor circulation can include numbness, tingling, swelling, fungal nails and persistent cold toes or feet.

“If you just have cold feet at night, that could be weather or other conditions,” Peavy said. “People with poor circulation generally have it 24/7, around the clock.”

Because of the decreased sensitivity that accompanies poor circulation, many of the people who suffer from it are unaware, Peavy said.

“I tell people, ‘Holy cow, your feet are really cold,'” she said. “They’ll say, ‘Wow, I didn’t even know it.'”

Diabetics are also at risk of foot problems because high blood sugar can slow the healing of wounds, Peavy said.

The clinic also performs assessments for custom shoe inserts and orthotics. Services include corn and callus removal, wound care, nail trimming and toenail treatment.

To alleviate and prevent corns and calluses, Peavy recommends rotating shoes, which avoids wearing shoes down.

“That can help alleviate some of the pressure,” she said.

People who are diagnosed with diabetes can also get custom shoes and inserts once a year through Medicare. Peavy said they can either do referrals to three or four local orthotics locations in the area or give the contact information directly to the patients.

In cases where orthotics are especially necessary for non-diabetics, Peavy said they will write a note in an effort to convince insurers to cover them.

“We can’t guarantee it, but we try really hard to get custom shoes for the patient,” Peavy said. “It’s really something we feel will help their feet, help them walk better and feel better in general.”

For more information, call the Aspirus Houghton Clinic at 487-1710.