With over 27 years of podiatry experience, Dr. Joseph Bender has a lot to say about foot health in the Rio Grande Valley. Usually, feet are the last thing we think about when it comes to our health, but we can’t forget about those twinkling toes! Our feet are our foundation and vital to our health. Bender shares the most common issues he sees in his office and how to prevent them.
“Foot care is so important due to the high percentage of people with diabetes in the RGV whose feet are in the high-risk category,” Bender said. In the RGV, the rate of diabetes, 27%, is three times the national average.
When someone has severe or untreated diabetes, it may cause circulatory issues — which can lead to neuropathy. Neuropathy is a form of nerve damage that occurs in the feet and hands, which can cause pain, numbness, and tingling. Many people with neuropathy cannot feel when they’ve sustained an injury. Therefore, fractures and infections may occur without the patient realizing it.
“People who have reached this severe stage of neuropathy are advised to wear shoes at all times, even in their own house,” Bender said. “Their lives can become severely restricted as I advise people not to do everyday things like barbecuing with flip flops on and walking barefoot outside or at the beach.” Self-sufficiency is an integral component of overall mental and physical health, and we need our feet for it.
Bender highly advises those who are diabetic or prone to diabetes to control sugar intake and be mindful of foot health. Due to a significant increase in amputations from uncontrolled diabetes, Medicare now has a diabetic shoe care program. Save yourself pain and heartache by managing your sugar and wearing the proper shoes.
“Many things contribute to heel pain: Flat feet, weight gain, structural deformities, and overactivity are all possible contributors,” Bender said.
Without proper arch support and stabilization, bad shoes can cause bunions, collapsed arches, and hammertoe. Improper support and structure can even cause hip, knee, and back pain.
Bender reminds us that “the shoe is a breeding ground for fungus. In the same way that a tree falls and is eventually decomposed and turned into a new plant, so works the fungus in our shoes. Fungus is everywhere.” With that level of presence, how do people keep fungus from getting out of control?
Luckily, the solution is simple: Change your shoes regularly. You must change the shoe to prevent fungal growth like athlete’s foot. Don’t wear the same shoes every day, especially if you are working out and sweating in them. Bender advises people to “clean your nails and in between your toes every day.” If you needed a reason to get a pedicure, this is your sign.
Sometimes the issue isn’t a fungus, which is why it is important to see a podiatrist like Bender when you notice changes on your feet.
IF THE SHOE FITS
Bender’s main office location is a full-service practice in McAllen with six doctors on staff to help you with any questions you may have. Two of those six doctors are full-time pedorthotist-certified shoe fitters. While it won’t be made of glass, just stop by, and they’ll find the magic slipper meant to fit your foot, specific to your needs.
Whether you need diabetic shoes, orthotics to make modifications and adjustments, or a variety of ankle braces, they have it all. Additionally, they have shoe sponges for amputated toes and shoe springs for those who have suffered a stroke.
Learn more about foot care from Bender at www.completefamilyfootcare.com or give the office a call at (956) 971-9107.