Podiatrists debunk 12 feet myths


Following is a transcript of the video.

Sarah Haller: “You have warts because your feet are dirty.” No!

Brad Schaeffer: No, no, no.

Haller: “Bunions are caused by wearing heels.” Leave your stilettos out of this. The stilettos did not cause your bunion.

Schaeffer: “Cutting the sides of my toenail will prevent an ingrown toenail.” No, absolutely not.

Haller: I am Dr. Sarah Haller. I am a foot and ankle surgeon, and I practice in New York, New Jersey. I got into foot and ankle because I wanted to be a ballerina. I wanted so badly. But I was not that good, so I ended up being a doctor instead, and my feet definitely thank me.

Schaeffer: And I’m Dr. Brad Schaeffer. I’m a doctor of podiatric medicine. We treat everything below the knee. And today we will be debunking all the myths about feet.

Schaeffer: “Pedicures gave me toenail fungus.”

Haller: I think yes and no. I mean, you can get fungus from anywhere. It can be in a carpet. So I can’t prove that it’s not going to happen here, but I can’t prove that it will either. I definitely take precaution when I go to a pedicure salon. I bring my own nail polish. And if this is part of your self-care ritual, don’t stop going, but at the same time, just be cautious. That’s all.

Schaeffer: You can get toenail fungus from anywhere. Pedicures are safe if they’re done in a safe, sterile environment.

Haller: They do clean their instrumentation. They have these sanitary bags that go inside of the bathtub soaks, and that should be changed out between every person that comes through. So they do take precaution, but at the same time, again, anywhere there’s a warm, hot, moist environment, it’s like a breeding ground for fungus.

Schaeffer: “Cutting the sides of my toenail will prevent an ingrown toenail.” No, absolutely not. When you cut your nail, you’re supposed to cut it straight across. So, when you do that, the nail doesn’t grow into the corner, creating an ingrown, which can create infection and a lot of pain.

Haller: So, what everyone thinks, sometimes, is if they cut the actual nail round it’ll grow out rounded. That’s not true, because the actual nail matrix, where the nail grows from, from behind the actual skin, it actually grows as a square. You only see the rounded part. So by actually cutting it how you want it to grow, it’s not going to change the actual root of it and how it’s meant to grow.

Schaeffer: Right. I couldn’t agree more. What’s going to cause ingrown toenails is your toenail. So, when that gets cut too short, it grows right into the corner of your skin. It’s like a little pin. Once that starts penetrating the skin, it creates an infection. Pus, swelling, redness. Not a good look. It hurts. So just cut them straight across. You’ll be in the clear.

Schaeffer: This is one I know I get all the time. Oh, gosh.

Haller: All right. “You have warts because your feet are dirty.” No!

Schaeffer: No, no, no. You do not get warts because your feet are dirty. Warts are a virus. You get viruses from all kinds of things.

Haller: Viruses can hide anywhere, and they just lay on surfaces. They can be on yoga mats, any kind of exercise equipment.

Schaeffer: Pools, gyms, showers. They’re everywhere. But don’t be afraid. Live your life. Just make sure you wear those shower shoes. Wipe down your mats if you’re doing yoga or in a gym, and, you know, don’t overly share your stuff.

Haller: If you look at your feet, there are small cracks between each of these skin layers, and you don’t even feel them. They’re not bleeding, they’re not cuts, they’re just microscopic tears in your skin, and that’s how the viruses get in.

Schaeffer: When you do get a wart, which ultimately is caused by a virus, that little wart can spread into a huge wart cluster. That’s why you want to get checked out to make sure that that little thing can be treated real quick. When you come to our office, we do an acid treatment, and what the acid does is it really just eats down at the wart, so it exfoliates out the good skin and kills the virus. Sometimes there’s a surgery that’s needed and you actually pare out the wart, but if you get it checked early enough, you don’t have to do that, and you can get it treated in one treatment.

I actually love this one. So, it’s, “Only athletes get athlete’s feet.” That is a straight no! So, athlete’s feet is actually a fungus, and it’s called tinea pedis, right? So, when you have a fungus like that, usually it comes from warm, moist environments, a lot of times in our socks and shoes when we sweat. It’s kind of like harboring a little petri dish in there. Once all that gets in there, it festers, and it can create a very good-looking environment for fungus, bacteria, all types of not-good things. That’s why you’re always told to change out your socks when they start getting sweaty. If you’re just working and walking around every day, your feet can still sweat too. Not just athletes have those warm, moist environments. Everybody does. So change out your socks, change out your shoes, and use some powder from time to time. That’ll help too.

Haller: “Bunions are caused by wearing heels.” No, absolutely not. Leave your stilettos out of this. The stilettos did not cause your bunion. Mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, somebody in your family, your family tree, passed it down to you.

Schaeffer: Baby you were born this way. [laughing]

Haller: A bunion is actually, it’s not a bump growing off the side of your foot, which everyone seems to think. It’s actually a deformity, meaning the bone behind your big toe is actually shifting from this straight-up-and-down position and tilting sideways.

Schaeffer: It’s like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, right?

Haller: It’s not the actual stiletto that’s the problem. It may be worsened by wearing the stiletto where it pushes on the bunion and makes it bigger, but it’s not actually caused by the actual shoe you’re wearing. So what I tell patients that have bunions that they want to wear a cute stiletto, maybe go a little bit lower. So I recommend something where your actual bunion can maybe come out the side of it.

Schaeffer: You can definitely support and help bunions, right, but they’re not just going to go away. They will develop throughout time and, unfortunately, sometimes get worse as we age.

Haller: There’s no way to get rid of a bunion without surgery.

Schaeffer: Those things out there called YogaToes, or, like, toe spacers, are out there to help us. But when you remove them, not doing much good, are they?

Haller: They’re kind of like eyeglasses. They only work when you wear them.

Schaeffer: Very true. “My feet are fine because I trained them to walk in stilettos.”

Haller: I think yes and no. I mean, I don’t think they’re good for you, but I definitely think you can train your feet, because you can get used to them. So, when you’re wearing these things, your heel’s going here, and it attaches to your Achilles, and that’s what actually shortens. As you persistently wear these, over time, your Achilles gets shorter and shorter, which actually causes a ton of issues with the front of your foot. The insert’s down here, this is where the ball of your foot is, and that’s where all of the pressure goes, to five little bones in the base of your foot. So I do think you can kind of train your feet to walk in stilettos, but in no way, shape, or form is it good, healthy, or give you longevity. It’s like a valet shoe. You know you’re going to park, you’re going to get out somewhere, you’re going to walk for maybe two steps and sit down, that’s a great shoe. But other than that, not a long-term shoe.

Schaeffer: “You can’t do anything for a broken toe.” Myth. We get this question all the time. Oh, my gosh! And it’s frustrating. When you have a broken toe, that’s a bone. You broke a bone in your foot. Right?

Haller: There’s definitely stuff you can do for the broken toes. With a toe, it may not just be a simple fracture where the actual bone is cracked. You can actually dislocate it, which basically means not only is the bone cracked, but the ligaments are actually loosened up, so it pops over to the side. You need to get it popped back into place, and then it needs to really structurally be supported by the other toe beside it, otherwise it can re-dislocate and cause major issues down the line. So it’s really important that you get your toe checked out if you think you may have fractured or even bumped it wrong, you see black and blue, you need to go in and have it buddy taped, basically when the toes can get taped together. Your doctor will teach you how to do it so it can safely heal. It takes four to six weeks for a bone to heal, so you better just get in there faster, and it should start healing in a natural process so it doesn’t have to be a reset again.

Haller: “It’s normal for your feet to hurt from standing all day.”

Schaeffer: It is not normal. My feet kind of bark at the end of the day, especially when I’m in surgery for a long time, but, ultimately, we have tips and tools where your feet should not hurt at the end of the day.

Haller: Supportive shoes, compression socks, inserts, all of these can help prevent fatigue.

Schaeffer: We have to support our arches. I mean, they are critical for the stability of our feet. You have 26 bones and over 100 ligaments in the foot. There’s a lot that can go wrong with our feet.

Haller: Appropriate shoe gear is the key. None of these, like, flimsy shoes in the office. Anything with a good sole and especially with a little bit of a higher heel, so you have the nice support under your Achilles, I think really makes a big difference, especially if you’re standing or walking all day. “

Haller: All inserts are the same.”

Schaeffer: Get this a lot.

Haller: False. False! Absolutely no. My foot is way different than Dr. Brad’s foot. We wouldn’t need the same insert. And I’m sure your foot is different, and everybody has something else going on, so just getting an over-the-counter insert for some people is OK, but sometimes you need a custom one.

Schaeffer: Right. I mean, I couldn’t agree more. So, if you look at my shoes, I just wear an over-the-counter insole. These insoles have nice arch support. These are game changers. And other people, they have bigger problems, so they need custom inserts, and those are called orthotics. And those are absolutely amazing too. So it really just depends.

Haller: If you have big-toe arthritis, if you have arthritis in your midfoot, it helps a lot of arthritic conditions, which you may think is an old-person thing; young people can get arthritis too. So orthotics can help anybody, young to old. If you have really flat feet as a kid, those are really important to help stabilize the growth plates as the kid is growing.

Schaeffer: “Sprained ankles are no big deal.” False!

Haller: Thank you. Yes, I agree.

Schaeffer: Dude, we get this a lot in our practice. When you sprain your ankle, there are so many things that can go wrong. So, there are three ligaments on the outside of your ankle, and when you roll it, they basically blow out. So what you have to do is you have to stabilize that ankle so the ligaments hold in a natural position. Other than that, it’ll just grow back floppy and scarred down. So that’s not going to be good for anyone, and you’re not going to be able to play the sport that you love. So whenever you roll your ankle, you have to stabilize it so it heals normal.

Haller: Yes. When it sprains, you also run the risk of the bones hitting into each other, so then that can cause cartilage damage. Cartilage damage is a really big thing, because if it happens and then you don’t follow up, you’re prone to early-onset arthritis, and arthritis is in no way good.

Schaeffer: “If I can walk after an injury, I don’t need to see a doctor.” False, absolutely false. Just no, no, no. This is not true.

Haller: So, I had a patient come in last week. He fell off a porch while he was hanging out with friends. But he broke his ankle and had no idea. He walked on it for two weeks. When I showed him the X-ray, he was flabbergasted. He walked around for a week and a half without even knowing that he broke it.

Schaeffer: There’s also a lot of patients that we see that don’t necessarily feel their feet. Like diabetics out there, sometimes you get stuff called neuropathy, and that can be tingling, numbing, burning sensation in your feet, and you just don’t feel those injuries. So it’s important to just get it checked out by Dr. Sarah or I, and we’ll tell you if there’s any cause for concern.

We debunked a lot of myths here.

Haller: We went through a lot, but definitely change your shoes regularly, make sure that you don’t share shoes with each other, trim your toenails appropriately, and go and get things checked out. Don’t wait until the last minute, ’cause it be broken even if you’re still walking on it.

Schaeffer: Let’s check my feet.

Haller: Yeah. Oh, flexible.

Schaeffer: What?!

Haller: Yeah, I mean it’s kind of —

Schaeffer: That’s pretty close.

Haller: It is more impressive than I thought it was going to be.

Schaeffer: Oh, my gosh, I hurt my hip. Come on!

Haller: You need to stretch more, Brad.

Schaeffer: I hurt my hip debunking these myths.

Haller: You gotta stretch.