Podiatrist issues free advice: Feet should not hurt

Randy Aaranson, D.P.M.


Feet are not supposed to hurt. Period. 

“People don’t realize that if your feet hurt, you have a problem,” Dr. Randy Aaranson says. “Many people think that feet are supposed to hurt, that it’s normal. It is not.”

That said, at some point, everybody has foot problems. Aaranson, 51, treats all ages, from newborns to the elderly. He is on staff at three hospitals and two surgery centers, and sees patients at Orthopedic Associates (oastl.com) in Des Peres and at Deer Creek Footcare (deercreekfootcaremo.com) in O’Fallon, Mo.

A native of the Philadelphia area, Aaranson completed medical school at the Temple College of Podiatric Medicine. In 1989, he moved to St. Louis for a residency at Central Medical Center and then settled here. The family belong to Congregation Shaare Emeth.  

Aaranson recently made time to talk about his work.

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What drew you to this field? 

Podiatry is about everything to do with the foot and the ankle, and it encompasses a lot of aspects of the medical profession. Podiatrists do a lot of surgery, deliver a lot of diagnoses and make orthotics. Every day is different.


What medical issues do you commonly see in your practice?

Broken bones or fractures, twists, sprains, nerve issues, problems with the tarsal tunnel and neuromas. I treat bunions, hammertoes and infected ingrown toenails. 

I also see people with heel pain from plantar fasciitis, which is inflammation of a ligament on the bottom of the heel. 


How is plantar fasciitis treated?

Lots of ways: cortisone shot, an anti-inflammatory, physical therapy, stretching or orthotics. You can even treat it at home, doing stretches and rolling your foot over a frozen water bottle. 


Why are feet special?

Feet are an incredible feat of engineering. Did you see what I did there?


I did — and you were saying?

We have 26 bones in each foot, plus lots of ligaments, tendons and muscles to control them. Feet are the foundation for everything from the ankles up to the lower back. It’s all connected. If your feet are out of whack, something else above will be out of whack, too. 


So seeking health care for your feet can protect the rest of your body? 

If you have flat feet, your legs rotate and that throws your hips and spine out of alignment. Orthotics rebalance that pyramid, return the spine to a more normal alignment and help eliminate knee, hip and back pain.

What if just your feet hurt?

Feet are not supposed to hurt. That’s a common misconception. If your feet hurt while you wear a certain pair of shoes, you’re not supposed to wear those shoes. I’m not saying women can’t wear high heels with pointy toes for a special occasion now and then, but those shoes are not designed for the human foot.


Besides wearing comfortable shoes, how can people better care for their feet? 

One of the best things you can do is use moisturizer on a daily basis to improve the condition of the skin on your feet. People walk around with dry skin and cracked heels, even fissures, or athlete’s foot. You can get a nasty bacterial infection that way, and it’s difficult to treat. All that is totally avoidable. 


How else do people abuse their feet?

They do what we call bathroom surgery, working on their own feet with filthy tools, cutting their toenails, cutting on corns or calluses. You can inflict significant damage, and we see infections as a result. 


Is that common?

It is, even among people with neuropathy or cataracts or arthritis in their hands or diabetes. Right now, I am writing a book about diabetes and the care of the feet, for lay readers. But professional podiatry care is a lot safer for everybody than bathroom surgery. Don’t do it.


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