It is crucial to speak to your doctor about any foot problems because if left untreated, they may make walking more difficult, or increase the risk of falls.
In addition to common foot issues that can affect anyone, such as corns and bunions, many people with Parkinson’s find their balance, gait, mobility or posture are affected, and this can lead to other complications, as well as cramp.
Involuntary muscle contractions (dystonia) and toe-curling
Dystonia is a movement disorder that causes contractions in various muscles. This means the muscles become tighter and shorter than normal, making them difficult to stretch.
In Parkinson’s, dystonia can cause repeated, twisting movements (spasms) which create abnormal postures in the affected body part.
You may experience spasms and muscle cramps in the feet, where the toes curl into a claw-like position, the foot turns inwards at the ankle, and occasionally the big toe sticks up. This can be very uncomfortable and make it hard to fit feet into shoes. The toes may rub on footwear and pressure problems may arise on areas of the foot not designed to withstand pressure.
Dystonia can be caused by your medications, so speak with your doctor or Parkinson’s specialist nurse if you have one, to see if switching your medications or dosage can help alleviate the spasms.
Swelling in the feet, known as oedema, results from the accumulation of excessive fluid in the tissues. This is more likely to occur if you have slow or reduced movement (bradykinesia) or spend a lot of time sitting down.
Swelling tends to get worse during the day. Lying down flat with your legs slightly raised and keeping your legs raised while sitting can alleviate swelling. Your doctor may also prescribe a diuretic (a medication which makes you urinate).
If you are experiencing swollen feet or ankles you should talk with your doctor so that he or she can rule out other causes, such as problems with your heart or kidneys or deep vein thrombosis.
Managing foot problems
There are a number of things you can do to help prevent or alleviate foot problems:
Choosing the right footwear is important, both for comfort and to prevent pressure points or changes to the foot’s shape. A podiatrist or other experienced professional such as a physiotherapist or occupational therapist should be able to help you decide what is appropriate for you..
Stretching and exercising the feet regularly can help prevent or reduce muscle stiffness, and improve circulation and the strength of foot arches. A podiatrist will be able to suggest suitable exercises that will only take a few minutes.
General foot care
Keep your feet healthy with the following simple tips:
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