A treat for the feet and more: shoe inserts
Whether you're a 40-something, a young sports player,
or an older person with back pain, an insert could make you more
comfortable in your shoes.
The National Shoe Retailers Association says there
are hundreds of products on the market that could help. Driving the
demand are middle-agers who walk and play more and overweight people
with stressed feet.
Dr. Scholl's has many varieties and sizes of inserts.
Superfeet Performance Insoles are a top-selling brand for athletic
types. They hold the heel in alignment and reduce strain on knees,
ankles, hips and lower back. They cost about $35 a pair.
Podiatrists and orthopedic specialists say simple
inserts are fine for comfort. They warn, however, that if they comfort
rather than correct a serious foot condition, they can cause problems.
A Mayo Clinic doctor treated a woman with hip pain by
prescribing a heel lift. It corrected a discrepancy in leg length that
caused the hip pain. A difference in leg length can be caused by having
a leg bone break during growing years, having a bone heal incorrectly,
or by curvature of the spine that causes the pelvis to tilt, all of
which can create the same mechanical effect as leg-length discrepancy.
Heel cups are prescribed to treat foot pain, heel
pain and plantar fasciitis.
Mayo suggests visiting a specialty shoe business,
known as a pedorthic shop, to get custom-fitted shoe lifts.
Arch supports and orthotics prescribed by a
podiatrist are usually covered by health insurance.
Prevent formation of bunions or stop pain
Sometimes a formation of a bunion is not your fault. They often occur because of a
hereditary tendency for foot pronation.
Pronation occurs when, as a person walks, the ankle
rotates internally and the forefoot rotates externally. Pronation causes
an abnormal pull on the foot's tendons and bones, say doctors of
Orthopaedic Surgery at Johns Hopkins Medical Centers.
Sometimes formation of a painful bunion is your
fault. Narrow or poorly-fitting shoes play a role by pushing toes into
an abnormal position and putting pressure on toe joints.
High-heeled shoes are often the cause, but shoes that
are too small or too narrow can create the problem for both men and
women. People don't realize that, over time, feet grow larger as
ligaments loosen and arches flatten somewhat.
Here's a test for the correct size. Stand barefoot on
the floor and have someone draw an outline of your foot. Then put your
shoe on the outline. If your foot is larger than the shoe, you are
wearing the wrong size.
New shoes may relieve bunion pain, but doctors may
prescribe custom-made orthotics that fit in shoes and prevent the foot
To relieve any pain and swelling, take an
anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen. Elevate the feet whenever possible,
and avoid high-impact exercise such as running. Walking, water aerobics
or stationary biking are better choices.
Bunions will never go away, but most people find
relief through conservative treatments. If pain continues, a one-hour
outpatient surgery can be recommended.
FDA approves herb to sweeten drinks
In December, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
approved a new sweetener for use in foods, beverages and tabletop use.
Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo, Inc. and other companies have
rushed to market a variety of products using the all natural herb
Coke offers a new version of Sprite and the new
Sprite Green. Pepsi is launching three flavors of a zero-calorie SoBe
Lifewater and an orange drink.
The FDA approval applies only to a highly purified
form of stevia known as rebaudioside A.
Have your earwax checked
The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck
Surgery Foundation has issued the first guidelines to help identify
patients with impacted earwax. Impacted patients will not hear well, and
wax could cause pain or odor.
The new guidelines state that doctors should
routinely check for impacted earwax, which should always be treated by a
professional. To remove it, doctors use a dissolving agent, irrigation
or ear syringing, and manual removal with an instrument or suction