Five Myths about Foot Care: From Bunions to Broken Toes, Local Podiatrist Has Seen It All

“Step on a crack and you’ll break your mother’s back.” Old wives’ tales and myths like that example are fun to laugh at. We believed them as children. But there are other myths that are no laughing matter, especially when they involve your health.

From bunions to broken toes, board certified podiatric foot and ankle surgeon Dr. Dekarlos M. Dial, DPM, has seen it all. Dr. Dial treats patients at the Cornerstone Foot & Ankle Specialists’ offices in High Point and Thomasville, North Carolina. Below, he shares five myths about foot care and the realities behind them.*

Myth: Cutting a notch (a “V”) in a toenail will relieve the pain of in-grown toenails.
Reality: When a toenail is “in-grown,” the nail curves downward and grows into the skin. Cutting a “V” in the toenail does not affect its growth. New nail growth will continue to curve downward. Cutting a “V” may actually cause more problems and is painful in many cases.

Myth: My foot or ankle can’t be broken if I can walk on it.
Reality: It’s entirely possible to walk on a foot or ankle with a broken bone. “It depends on your threshold for pain, as well as the severity of the injury,” says Dr. Dial. But it’s not a smart idea. Walking with a broken bone can cause further damage.

It is crucial to stay off an injured foot until diagnosis by a foot and ankle surgeon. Until then, apply ice and elevate the foot to reduce pain.

Myth: Shoes cause bunions.
Reality: Bunions are most often caused by an inherited faulty mechanical structure of the foot. It is not the bunion itself that is inherited, but certain foot types make a person prone to developing a bunion. While wearing shoes that crowd the toes together can, over time, make bunions more painful, shoes themselves do not cause bunions.

Although some treatments can ease the pain of bunions, only surgery can correct the deformity.

Myth: A doctor can’t fix a broken toe.
Reality: Nineteen of the 26 bones in the foot are toe bones.

“What I tell patients is, there are things we can do to make a broken toe heal better and prevent problems later on, like arthritis or toe deformities,” Dr. Dial says.

Broken toes that aren’t treated correctly can also make walking and wearing shoes difficult. A foot and ankle surgeon will X-ray the toe to learn more about the fracture. If the broken toe is out of alignment, the surgeon may have to insert a pin, screw, or plate to reposition the bone.

Myth: Corns have roots.
Reality: A corn is a small build-up of skin caused by friction. Dr. Dekarlos Dial says many corns result from a hammertoe deformity, where the toe knuckle rubs against the shoe. The only way to eliminate these corns is to surgically correct the hammertoe condition.

Unlike a callus, a corn has a central core of hard material. But corns do not have roots. Attempting to cut off a corn or applying medicated corn pads can lead to serious infection or even amputation. A podiatrist can safely evaluate and treat corns and the conditions contributing to them.

To make an appointment with Dr. Dial, contact Cornerstone Foot & Ankle Specialists at 336.802.2055 or visit his office website at Cornerstone Foot & Ankle Specialists proudly serves patients from 6 locations:

  • Cornerstone Foot & Ankle Specialists at Westchester, 1814 Westchester Drive, High Point, NC.
  • Cornerstone Foot & Ankle Specialists at Premier, 4515 Premier Drive, High Point, NC.
  • Cornerstone Foot & Ankle Specialists in Asheboro, 225 W. Ward Street, Asheboro, NC.
  • Cornerstone Foot & Ankle Specialists in Thomasville, 211 Old Lexington Road, Thomasville, NC.
  • Cornerstone Foot & Ankle Solutions, a retail store specializing in orthotics, diabetic shoes, compression stockings, arch supports and other items for foot comfort and health, 1814 Westchester Drive, High Point, NC.
  • Medi-Nail Spa at Westchester, 1814 Westchester Drive, High Point, NC.


*Source: American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, “Five Myths about Foot Care”, Web 29, Aug 2007.

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