The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Here’s Some Good Advice: Avoid These Common Tips on How to Cure Your Foot Pain

Posted by on Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014


No one likes to see a doctor. We try not to be offended. We get it. Scheduling an appointment takes time out of your day, and — at least some of the time — means facing up to a cold, harsh reality you simply don’t want to hear. Patients come in with all sorts of stories about how they tried to cure their foot pain at home. Often, they “read something on the Internet” or heard advice from someone they know. Here are some of the worst tips we’ve heard shared.


worsens foot pain
Think twice before treating foot pain at home. Image Source:

1. Let your dog lick your athlete’s foot.

A person wrote to the Athens Banner-Herald describing the sensation of a Westie licking athlete’s foot as “a little odd at first,” but ultimately effective. The People’s Pharmacy claims they have heard this “cure” in circulation since the 1950s. However, dogs carry bacteria in their mouths — including stomach flu virus and ringworm. So in reality, you could actually get foot fungus from Fido! By the same token, you could pass the fungus to your four-legged friend as well. If you want to treat athlete’s foot, just buy an over-the-counter cream, for heaven’s sake!

2. Don’t worry about your ankle if you can walk on it.

It’s a common myth that a foot or ankle cannot possibly be broken if weight can be placed on it. Truth be told, there are all different types of break patterns — some worse than others. Patients with high ankle sprains can often bear weight, for instance. Some people have a higher threshold for pain. It’s important to stay off the injury until it can be properly diagnosed and treated by a foot doctor. The best you can do is apply ice and elevate the foot to reduce foot pain. It’s probably not a good time to go hiking on vacation or stand at work for a ten-hour shift.

3. You can fix an ingrown toenail right in the comfort of your own bathroom.

Bathroom surgery is the worst! So many people use tweezers, scissors, knives, lighters, and other unimaginable items to “operate” on their toenails and dig out the piece that’s digging in. A rumor circulates that cutting a v-shaped notch can relieve the pain of ingrown nails by giving the nail a new place to grow. In reality, cutting this notch can cause more pain and problems. Ingrown nails are almost always hereditary and rely upon correction at the nail matrix to begin growing straight again.

4. Put Vicks Vaporub on toenail fungus.

The first word that comes to mind when we hear Vicks Vaporub as a suggested home remedy for toenail fungus is: “OUCH!” The hot menthol sensation does not feel good on a raw portal to the body — which is essentially what foot fungus is! While there may be antifungal properties in some of the ingredients, you run the risk of burning and damaging the surrounding skin. Manufacturer Proctor & Gamble recommend Vicks for the treatment of “cough associated with the common cold,” as well as “minor aches and pains.” They add that they have not tested, nor had the FDA approve, Vicks Vaporub as a treatment for toenail fungus. “We do not recommend it for treatment of toenail fungus,” they say, matter-of-factly.

5. Plantar fasciitis can be corrected with OTC products.

Practices vary in their recommendations of OTC products like night splints. We find that night splints tend to overstretch the plantar fascia. You may find short-term relief, but over time, you will be predisposed to flatter arches and more likelihood of recurrent foot pain. Worse yet are the so-called “heel pain insoles” sold in drug stores without a prescription. A one-size-fits-all solution can never help heel pain. What you need more than a cushioned heel is better arch and heel support from sturdier footwear. Custom orthotics may be effective in correcting biomechanical weaknesses in some patients with heel pain.

Get REAL Foot Pain Help In New York City

The Center for Podiatric Care & Sports Medicine in Manhattan and Westchester offers an experienced team of sports medicine doctors, podiatrists, surgeons, pain specialists, and physical therapists who take a multi-dimensional approach to healing your foot pain. We seek the root cause of your suffering and begin with the most conservative, yet scientifically proven, approaches to pain management. If necessary, we are trained to employ state-of-the-art technology and advanced surgical procedures to heal you.

Book your appointment now.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.