We love our patients. Getting to know and help them is the best part of our days. Sometimes, their stories inspire us. Other times, they make us laugh. And still other times their experiences can help other patients avoid pain and discomfort. So, with that in mind, let us tell you a story...
Dr. Schneider says, "I once had a patient who came into the office with her shoes. She told me that she felt a rock in her shoes but she just couldn't find it. She was hoping that I could find what was wrong with her shoes so I could make them comfortable again.
Intrigued, I asked her if she feels the discomfort when she is wearing other shoes as well. She said that she does. In fact, she realized, she even feels it when she's barefoot. Then she said, if she didn't know better, she would swear there were rocks in her socks."
Obviously, that wasn't the case. Something else was going on. But I don't share this story to poke fun at her. On the contrary, it's something that happens quite often! When you have pain, and you can't find the source, you will search for an explanation that makes the most sense to you. Yet what seems sensical is not always the cause of your trouble.
So, what was giving my patient all that trouble? In this case, the pain had nothing to do with her shoes. Instead, it was all because of thick and painful corns and calluses on the bottom of her foot. But how did they get there? And how did I help her? Keep reading to find out.
What is a corn? And what is a callus? Are they different?
Corns and calluses are both thickened areas of hard, dead skin that form because of pressure. This pressure can come from many different sources. It could be from tight shoes, but your own body could be the problem. So, if you have hammertoes, bunions, heel spurs or other bony prominences, you may end up with a corn or callus, too. Even your arch height or gait can put abnormal pressure on areas of your feet. And that can cause corns or calluses to form.
Most commonly a callus occurs on the bottom of your foot and is superficial and broad. A corn is smaller and deeper and usually forms on top of or between your toes. Because of the depth, these are more likely to be painful. Corns can also form on the bottom of your feet...and yes, they are painful. And they can make it feel like you have rocks in your socks.
Managing Pain: Goodbye, Rocks in Socks!
Some people are fine living with corns, as long as they don't hurt. For those patients, corns are best controlled with protective felt or gel padding. This padding offloads (removes pressure from) the thickened area. Quickly, this relieves the pressure, and slows corns from progressing. If we've already removed the corn (more on that in a minute) this padding can prevents it from returning.
In our office, we use and offer several different kinds of Dr. Jill's foot pads. These are the highest quality pads on the market. And this treatment isn't just for corns. Padding is also helpful for calluses when necessary. But many times, you'll need to control calluses with a custom orthotic. That's an insole designed to balance your feet. When biomechanical issues are the cause of your pressure, orthotics neutralize that pressure. And that means the end of forces that cause your calluses to form.
Removing Corns and Calluses: What's Safe and What's Not?
At-home corn treatments just don't work. In fact, because they contain powerful acids, they could cause more harm than good. Now, what about office treatments that only remove your corn, but don't address pressure? You guessed it: they'll fail, too! So, how can we treat corns and make sure they don't come back?
We start at the corn's top layer, gently removing the surface covering of dead skin. Then, we'll go deeper, finding and removing the corn's "root." Finally, to ensure that the corn stays gone, we'll figure out what caused the pressure on your foot that contributed to corn development. We'll look at your shoe choices and lifestyle habits. Then, we'll examine your gait and foot structure. After this thorough exam, we should know what's causing pressure on your feet. And we'll come up with the right plan to address it, permanently solving your corn problems.
Now, I can treat calluses in the office. But, unlike corns, you can also work on your calluses at home. Carefully, of course. Many people use a sharp callus file, such as a Ped-Egg, to control their corns or calluses. I strongly discourage this, since I see many injuries and infections from their use. Instead, follow this safer approach. You should soften your calluses with a strong moisturizing cream. (I like products such as Calicylic Creme.) Once softened, you can use a Pumi-Bar to pare down the newly-formed dead skin in the shower each day.
While this plan can work for calluses, you should avoid callus filing at the nail salon. It's very hard to properly clean spa tools. And many nail technicians get too aggressive when removing your dead skin. As a result, your feet could be open to infection, or injury. Living with a callus until your next office visit is a much safer solution.
Treating Corns and Calluses in Houston, TX
If you have a feeling like there are rocks in your socks, it's time to stop looking for those pebbles! Instead, let's get to the bottom of your foot problem. Contact our Houston Podiatry office for an immediate appointment. We'll figure out what's putting pressure on your feet. Then, we'll get rid of your "rocks." And give you a plan so that they never return. Best of all? The treatment is safe and painless. And you will find relief the minute you step on the floor and walk out our door!