YOUR HEALTH When you have leg prob­lems

Leg con­di­tions may be caused by a num­ber of things in­clud­ing ex­ces­sive weight gain

Move! - - CONTENTS - By Palesa Mat­je­bele

IT is no longer the case that only el­derly peo­ple suf­fer from med­i­cal is­sues re­lat­ing to your legs as younger peo­ple can also develop such prob­lems de­pend­ing on the state of their health. These con­di­tions are quite se­ri­ous and can af­fect both men and women, but in most cases they af­fect women. Fac­tors such as high blood pres­sure, heart dis­ease and be­ing over­weight can con­trib­ute to leg prob­lems.

CAUSES AND CON­TRIBUT­ING FAC­TORS

THE LOWER PART OF THE BODY PLAYS A SIG­NIf­i­CANT ROLE in your mo­bil­ity.

Bahle Nteleki, a po­di­a­trist and founder of Nteleki and As­so­ci­ates in Jo­han­nes­burg, ex­plains that the main rea­son a lot of peo­ple have prob­lems with their legs is be­cause the lower part of the body takes on a lot of strain with ev­ery­day phys­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties.

“Be­cause the legs carry most of the mo­bil­ity re­spon­si­bil­ity, your legs get ex­posed to nu­mer­ous in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal fac­tors that can cause pain and dis­com­fort,” says Bahle.

Sibu­siso Zikhali, a pro­fes­sional nurse, says is­sues re­lat­ing to your legs can­not be pinned down to ONE SPE­CIfiC CAUSE.

He ex­plains that while any­one can develop con­di­tions re­lat­ing to the legs, be­ing over­weight in­creases these chances.

“Ex­ces­sive weight may re­sult in de­creased mo­bil­ity. And when you are un­able to move around, WHAT STARTED Off AS PAINFUL HEELS can grow into some­thing more com­pli­cated,” he says.

Bahle lists skele­tal and mus­cle in­juries among some of the core con­trib­u­tors of leg prob­lems, say­ing that they can ei­ther be tem­po­rary or per­ma­nent, de­pend­ing on the sever­ity and early treat­ment method.

COM­MON LEG PROB­LEMS

You may be lucky to still be able to move around as much as you want when you have a leg con­di­tion. This might be be­cause you only have mi­nor is­sues, which can be man­aged by just ap­ply­ing oint­ments.

For oth­ers, ev­ery­day ac­tiv­i­ties might be a mis­sion and you might also have a lim­ited choice of the type of shoes you can wear and can­not stand for long due to pain or numb­ness.

Here are some com­mon leg prob­lems that may take a toll on you:

Arthri­tis: THIS Af­fECTS YOUR JOINTS. THE JOINTS WILL IN­flAME, RE­SULT­ING IN STIff­NESS, PAIN AND OVER­ALL re­duced mo­bil­ity.

Edema: THIS CON­DI­TION IS CAUSED WHEN flUID IS trapped in one place, caus­ing your feet to swell. YOU WILL EX­PE­RI­ENCE PAIN AND DIf­fi­CULTY IN WALK­ING.

Lym­phedema: This is by far the worst leg con­di­tion. It is swelling in your legs and some­times arms caused by a lym­phatic sys­tem block­age. There can also be ex­treme ex­ces­sive growth and dis­col­oration on the af­fected area and your skin may be prone to in­fec­tions.

Ve­nous ul­cer: This oc­curs when ve­nous valves that con­trol the flow of blood do not func­tion prop­erly. As a re­sult, this will cause open wounds that start off as a rash. Corns and cal­luses: The con­di­tion may be over­looked be­cause it’s mild in most cases. But some peo­ple develop corns and cal­luses in mul­ti­ples and un­der their feet, mak­ing walk­ing a chal­lenge.

AVAIL­ABLE TREAT­MENTS

Some leg con­di­tions can only be man­aged while oth­ers can be trated.

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 your doc­tor and only taken min­i­mally.

Swelling in your feet re­quires you to be more cau­tious and en­sure your legs are al­ways pro­tected and rest­ing on a pil­low when­ever you are seated.

Treat­ment for ul­cer­a­tions is com­plex. Bahle says the treat­ment and pre­scrip­tion in­volves iden­ti­fy­ing and man­ag­ing pos­si­ble pre­dis­pos­ing fac­tors.

“Ul­cers re­quire reg­u­lar dress­ings of the wound. Pa­tients are re­quired to visit a po­di­a­trist (doc­tors who treat foot dis­or­ders) for reg­u­lar check-ups of chronic wounds as they can quickly com­pli­cate and re­sult in hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion and or am­pu­ta­tion,” says Bahle.

After sus­tain­ing an in­jury, you may think the in­jury is not se­ri­ous, but Bahle dis­cour­ages self­di­ag­no­sis, say­ing that it can re­sult in a big­ger is­sue.

“Con­di­tions which af­fect your legs can be clas­si­fied ac­cord­ing to which part of the legs is af­fected. The sooner the prob­lem is med­i­cally ad­dressed, the bet­ter chances for you to fully re­cover,” he says.

He ex­plains that sim­ple things such as home care groom­ing have a huge im­pact on de­vel­op­ing leg con­di­tions. He says feet also need 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 in in­fec­tion of a painful in­grown toenail,” says Bahle.

THE TYPES OF SHOES YOU SHOULD WEAR

When you are suf­fer­ing from is­sues re­lated to your legs, you can’t wear any shoe you like.

“There are dif­fer­ent kinds of shoes avail­able to pa­tients, 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 pa­tients, be­cause peo­ple have cer­tain ideas and be­liefs around the type of footwear they should be wear­ing,” Bahle adds.

Bahle gives the fol­low­ing ad­vice on the kind of shoes you should wear:

Good fit­ting shoes: These are not tight on the toes or around the heel area.

Spa­cious toe box: The area around the front of the shoe al­lows space for your 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 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 your heel and not dis­turb or rub against the Achilles ten­don (a tough band of fi­brous tis­sue that con­nects the calf mus­cles to the heel bone). Lace straps: These should not be tight or press on your foot.

Ma­te­rial of footwear: Some footwear con­sists of plas­tic or hard leather. This is not ideal as it may af­fect your skin and space within the shoe.

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