The Remedies That Help Soothe My Aching Feet

For columnist Lisa Weber, corns are a painful side effect of scleroderma

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by Lisa Weber |

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Did you know that gymnastic balance beams are made of aluminum and wrapped with a thin layer of polyethylene foam and leatherlike material? If a stunt is landed incorrectly, it’s like landing on concrete.

When I was a gymnast, I once missed the landing of a front flip and my heel smacked down — straight through to the metal. At that moment, I was certain I’d shattered the bone. But it turns out that the heel is incredibly sturdy, so the bone was only bruised. Painfully sore for days, but fine otherwise.

Because scleroderma has broken down the padding on the soles of my feet, “skin and bones” now means something new. My feet are now structured eerily similar to the balance beam: hard bone wrapped in a thin layer of skin. The padding is almost nonexistent.

Developing corns

There are only a couple of minutes each day when I’ll walk around without shoes for a few steps here and there, like getting in and out of the shower. And those tiny hobbles are excruciating — similar to smacking my heel on a steel beam.

One way my body tries to protect the bone from wear and tear is to build up calluses. Layers of hard skin encase the area being abused by the pounding weight of each step.

Still, there’s no padding to cushion each blow, so the process continues. The calluses have now developed into cone-shaped buildups at my pressure points. It starts with a tiny spot, then widens with each layer, until it’s like I lodged the pointy end of an ice cream cone in my foot.

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Have you ever gotten a pebble stuck in your shoe? Yup! That’s what it feels like. Except there are a few pebbles, and I can’t just swipe them away. Walking has become painful, and the bone is always bruised from repetitive trauma.

Luckily, I’ve found a few ways to ease the pain and slow the formation of these callus rocks, called corns.

Footwear is important

Wearing the right shoes is the first line of defense. Since the loss of padding is the culprit, arch support and soft cushions are a must!

My absolute favorite “slippers” to wear around the house are Under Armour Slides. They slip on like sandals and have a Velcro closure that I can adjust, depending on the socks I’m wearing. The best part is that the cushioning never seems to wear away. It’s like walking with memory foam pillows strapped on my feet.

For work and dress shoes, Vionic has some good choices. The company focuses on arch support and padding, so there’s an even displacement of weight with each step.

But I’m not a fancy gal, and I spend most of my time in flip-flops. For these shoes, my go-to brand is Reef. I can always find a pair that follows my arch and has a squishy sole to soften each step. These shoes don’t wear away unevenly like other sandals I’ve tried, but maintain an even cushion.

Inserts and corn pads help

I haven’t found the perfect sneakers or boots yet, but I’ve found ways to add my own comfort and support. I buy corn pads at stores that sell medicine and first-aid supplies. They’re little padded circles I can stick around my calluses to keep the corn from stabbing my bone. This is a temporary fix; they work just long enough for me to enjoy a night out.

I’ve had some luck with gel shoe inserts, but they only stick for a few wears. And I find them expensive to replace.

My podiatrist provides instant relief

My final and absolute favorite remedy is having my podiatrist cut the corn right out. I know that sounds scary, but it’s the most amazing treatment. Calluses are just thick layers of dead skin, so there’s no pain when she scrapes them away from the surface of healthy skin. She simply carves out the ice cream cone, and I walk away happy.

Instant relief is always my favorite option. But finding the time when I see so many other specialists sometimes keeps me from this fast and painless solution. Plus, not all podiatrists know how to cut these things out fully and without breaking the skin. My talented doctor is over an hour away — not too convenient.

Prevention is key

Since these nuisances grow back quickly, I do my best to slow the reformation by always walking with extra padding. This means the only time I’m not wearing shoes is when I’m in the shower — and I’m seriously considering getting flip-flops for this as well.

Limiting pain and adapting to the damage caused by scleroderma are like a revolving door. I do whatever it takes to stay one step ahead!

Note: Scleroderma News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Scleroderma News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to scleroderma.


Cynthia Swartz avatar

Cynthia Swartz

ty for sharing this... my feet are killing me all the time... have been looking for comfy shoes but i also have swelling so its always fun but hey we roll with it... thanks again... have a great day..

T Shelow avatar

T Shelow

Thank you for the shoe advice. I’m bookmarking this page so I can remember. Recently started having foot issues and have tried various remedies including some you mentioned. I do go to one of those sneaker stores where they fit you - around here it’s Fleet Feet - but they are expensive so it’s only a once or twice a year thing. It definitely helps though.

Linda Tedrahn avatar

Linda Tedrahn

Can you speak about the organs being affected by scleroderma?

Nina B avatar

Nina B

Skechers with memory foam are great , and also a foot massage machine. Thanks for your Blog ! I´ts spreading a lot of good laughs and Information


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