How to try and live life with no limitations even when your mobility fails you
By: Palesa Matjebele
Medical issues relating to legs are quite serious; they affect both men and women, but more especially women. It no longer happen that only elderly people suffer from issues like swollen legs, arthritis and lymphedema; younger people can also develop such problems depending on the state of their health. Things like high blood pressure, heart diseases and being overweight contributes to the medical issues that may require lifetime treatment.
CAUSES AND CONTRIBUTING ISSUES
The lower part of the body plays a significant role in the human mobility. Bahle Nteleki, a podiatrist and founder of Nteleki and Associates, a private podiatric practice explains that the main reason why a lot of people have problems with their legs, is because the lower part of the body takes on a lot of strain with all the everyday physical activities.
‘’Because the legs carryout most of the mobility responsibility, it gets exposed to numerous internal and external factors that can cause pain and discomfort,’’ he explains.
A professional nurse, Sibusiso Zikhali says that issues relating to leg problems cannot be pinned to one specific cause. He explains that while any individual of any form and shape can develop conditions relating to legs, being overweight increases those chances.
‘’Excessive weight may result in decreased mobility. And when one is unable to move around, what started off painful heels can grow into something much more complicated,’’ he says.
Bahle lists skeletal and muscle injuries amongst some of the core contributors of leg problems, saying that they can either be temporary or permanent, depending on the severity and the early treatment method. After sustaining an injury, one may think that it’s nothing serious, but Bahle discourages self-diagnosis, saying that it can result in a bigger issue.
‘’Conditions which affect the legs can be classified according to which part of the legs is affected. The sooner the problem is medically addressed, the better chances for the patient to fully recover,’’ he says.
The expert explains that simple things like homecare grooming have a huge impact on the developing leg conditions. He says that feet also want some extra care, and a little bit of attention.
‘’At times people may exercise poor nail-cutting techniques. During the ‘bathroom surgery’, the skin and nails may get damaged resulting to infection of painful ingrown toenail.’’
COMMON LEG PROBLEMS
Some sufferers are lucky enough to still move around as much as they want, reason being that they only have minor issues that can be managed by just applying ointments. While for those who are on the other side of the fence, everyday activities are a mission; these sufferers not only have limited choice of the type of shoes they wear but every aspect of their life is affected, they cannot stand for long due to pain or numbness. Some of the most common leg problems that take a toll on a sufferer’s lifestyle are:
Arthritis- the issue affects joints. The joints inflame, and result in stiffness, pain and overall reduced mobility.
Edema- the condition is caused when the fluid is trapped in one place, causing the feet to swell, and the sufferer experience pain and difficulty in walking.
Lymphedema- is by far worse leg condition, there’s an extreme excessive growth, there’s discoloration on the affected area, and skin gets prone to infection.
Venous Ulcer- occurs when venous valves that control the flow of blood does not function properly, as a result, causing open wounds that starts off as rash.
Corns and Calluses- the condition may be overlooked, because it’s mild in most cases. But some people develop them in multiples and under their feet, and walking becomes a challenge.
In most cases, the conditions may only be treated and managed. Because every condition is different, treatment also differs. For Edema, treatment can be done using an appropriate method where a specific issue will be managed appropriately. Pain can be relieved by the intake of painkillers recommended by the doctor, and only taken on minimal.
Swellings require the sufferer to be more cautious, they need to make sure that the legs are always protected and resting on a pillow whenever they are seating. Treatment for ulcerations is complex; Bahle says that the treatment and prescription involves identifying and managing possible predisposing factors.
‘’Ulcers require regular dressings of the wound. Patients are required to visit their podiatrist weekly for regular check-ups of chronic wounds as they can quickly complicate and result in hospitalization and or amputation,’’ he explains.
People suffering from issues related to legs can’t always wear the shoes that they like, both experts advice that they don’t force things, as it may only lead to much bigger problems.
‘’There are different kind of shoes available to patient, but patients still feel like their choice is still limited in terms of style,’’ Sibusiso explains.
‘’It is not always easy to give advice to patient, because people of have certain ideas and beliefs around the type of footwear they should be utilizing,’’ Bahle adds.
With over five years in the field, Bahle had had to advice patients with the kind of shoes they should wear. For years, he has described characteristics of good footwear as:
- Good fitting shoes. These are not tight on the toes or around heel area.
- Spacious Toe-box. The area around the front of the shoe allows space foot all toes to be evenly spaced.
- Sole/support. The sole of the shoe is supportive and soft.
- Heel height. The height of the shoe is not raised but is with the same horizontal plane as the rest of the sole.
- Heel cup. The heel cup of the shoe refers to the boarder around the back of the shoe. This should firmly hold the heel and not disturb or rub against Achilles tendon.
- Laces and straps. Laces and straps should not be tight or pressing on the foot.
- Material of footwear. Some footwear can consist of plastic or extremely hardened leather. This is not ideal as this may affect the skin and space within the shoe.