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What do you know about the human foot?

JESSICA MAWU-KOENYA BANSAH
JESSICA MAWU-KOENYA BANSAH

The human body is truly an art of work with many mysteries and wonders. The foot, part of the human body is incredibly important yet less is known about it. Many say the foot has evolved to suit our lifestyle. in the olden days, people travelled on foot but in this modern world, we have all types of shoes to cover the feet. In this article, we will talk about the structure of the feet, their importance and infections that can affect them.

The feet

If we are to ask what you use your feet for, the common answers we will get are walking, running, jumping, crawling, climbing and even balancing. These actions may seem ordinary and common but they are vital for human survival: No wonder the human foot is complex and unique. The human foot contains 28 bones, which is nearly one-fourth of all the bones in the entire body. It accommodates around 30 joints and more than a hundred muscles, ligaments and tendons.

These structures work hand in hand to allow the feet to perform two main functions: support the human body (weight) and move from one place to another. It is astonishing to even think about it- This small part of the human body which takes only a small volume has so much complexity and style.  The foot can be stiff or flexible to adapt to different surfaces and this is why it has so many joints.

The structure of the foot

The human foot can be divided into three main sections:

· The forefoot

· The midfoot

· The hindfoot

The foot comprises bones, nerves, muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments in each section. The position of the bones determines the sections of the foot (forefoot, midfoot, hindfoot).

· Tendons – these are structures that connect a muscle to a bone.

· Ligaments-they are rope-like structures that connect bones to other bones and help the tendons in providing stability to joints.

· Muscles- they are fibrous tissue that contract to cause movement of the body (in this case, the foot).

· Joint- the structure formed at the junction between two bones.

The forefoot

As the name suggests, it is the very front part of the foot that comprises the toes scientifically known as the phalanges. The toe has 14 bones in all: the big toe has two bones for each foot and three bones for each of the remaining toes in each foot.

In addition to the 14 bones, there are 5 other bones in the forefoot (metatarsals or the long bones in your foot) that connects the toes to the remaining part of the foot. These bones are important especially the first bone which is the shortest and thickest. It helps you to move your feet forward and provide space for tendons to attach. The remaining bones have minor functions for the tendons. There are two small bones present in the forefoot.

What are some implications that may occur if you develop an injury here? Think about it.

The midfoot

It is the middle region of the foot. This section is made up of irregularly shaped bones called the tarsals. Its main function is to connect the forefoot to the hindfoot. These bones form the arch of the foot. This helps to support the weight of the body and provide stability.

The hindfoot

The hindfoot is the posterior part of the foot. It is normally referred to as the heel. It contains two large bones with the largest of the two forming the heel (calcaneus). The other bone (talus) forms the pivoting joint of the ankle.

Common foot problems

The human foot is one of the longest-serving parts of the human body. The human foot has travelled far and wide. It is common to experience some breakdown or infections. Common breakdown of the structures of the foot (muscles, joints, ligaments, bones, etc.) include;

· Muscle or ligament sprains (a twist that causes swelling and pain), strains (stretch or tear) and pulls.

· Osteoarthritis (cartilage joint surface wears out)

· Bone fractures and breaks

· Rheumatoid arthritis

The foot can also be affected by medical conditions from other parts of the body such as

· Diabetes

· Gout

· Onychomycosis

Furthermore, some injuries or infections are specific to the foot:

o Heel Spurs- A heel spur is a calcium deposit causing a bony protrusion on the underside of the heel bone.

o Athlete’s foot- this is caused by a fungus that stays in a warm, dark and moist environment. It is common in the region between the toes and the bottoms of the feet. Symptoms include a white, scaly rash. Other symptoms include itching, burning, peeling, and sometimes a slight odour.

o Bunions- a bony bump that forms at the base of the big toe. They occur from deformities during pregnancy (congenital deformity), arthritis, trauma habitual wearing of shoes that are too narrow in the toe.

o Fallen arches (flat feet) – a condition whereby the entire soles of the feet touches the floor when you stand. As a child grows, arches form. Some have high whilst others have low arches or are nearly absent which results in flat feet. It usually runs in the family. Other infections such as obesity, diabetes and even conditions such as pregnancy might cause flat feet.

o Mallet toe - the toe bends downward at the joint at the tip of the toe, and painful corn often grows at the tip of the toe where it presses against the ground. It usually affects the second toe because it is the longest.

o Claw toe - A claw toe curls upward at the joint where the toes and the foot meet and downward at the middle and end joints of the toe, making the toe look curved, or clawlike. Habitually wearing tight shoes can cause claw toes as well as nerve damage to the feet which occurs from infections such as diabetes which may weaken the foot muscles.

Treatment

Just like any other infection, treatment depends on the cause. If the infection was caused by a bacterium or a fungus, then antibiotics or antifungal medications will be prescribed. For foot problems caused by the breakdown of the structures, physical therapy can even correct it. Sometimes, quitting the behaviour that caused it can return it to normal as well as foot hygiene. In the worst-case scenario, surgery will be performed to correct it.

References

  1. The anatomy of the foot. Retrieved from https://www.verywellhealth.com/foot-anatomy-and-physiology-3119204#treatment
  2. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17005-flat-feet

JESSICA MAWU-KOENYA BANSAH

A young lady who is excited to influence the society and world with the knowledge she has acquired.