YOUR HEALTH When you have leg problems
Leg conditions may be caused by a number of things including excessive weight gain
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.
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.