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Tuesday, 11 July 2023 00:00

Tendons are fibrous tissues that connect muscles with bone. The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body. It connects the calf muscles at the back of the leg with the heel, and facilitates movements such as jumping, running, and walking. 

Because the Achilles tendon is engaged so frequently and bears a great deal of pressure and stress throughout the day, it can become injured. Achilles tendon injuries cause the tissue to become irritated, inflamed, and swollen. Pain can come on gradually or be immediate, and will vary from mild to severe depending upon the injury. Where the pain occurs will vary as well, from just above the heel up through the back of the leg. There may also be stiffness in the tendon.

Achilles tendon injuries can often be caused by repetitive stress. They may also occur while running, playing tennis, gymnastics, football, basketball, dancing, soccer, baseball or other sports that require speeding up, slowing down, or pivoting quickly. Wearing high heels, falling from an elevation, stepping in a hole, having flat feet, bone spurs, tight leg muscles or tendons, wearing improper athletic shoes, exercising on uneven surfaces, or starting a new type of exercise can also cause Achilles tendon injuries.

The two most common Achilles tendon injuries are tendonitis and rupturesTendonitis causes painful inflammation and can occur in different parts of the tendon. Non-insertional Achilles tendonitis occurs when the fibers in middle of the tendon begin to break down, thicken, and swell. This condition typically affects younger, more active adults. Insertional Achilles tendonitis occurs where the tendon inserts into the heel bone. It is common for bone spurs to form with this type of injury. This condition can affect people of any age and level of activity.

Achilles tendon ruptures are a tear in the tendon. These breaks may be partial or complete. There may be an audible popping noise at the moment of injury and the pain will be sudden and severe.

An Achilles tendon injury can be diagnosed by your podiatrist after they examine you, check your range of motion, and possibly perform a calf squeeze test or review an X-ray or MRI. Depending on the type and severity of your injury, your podiatrist may treat your condition with rest/ice/compression/elevation (RICE), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, heel lifts, and stretching and strengthening exercises. If you have torn your Achilles tendon, treatment may include physical therapy, ultrasound, shockwave therapy, or possibly even surgery.


 

Tuesday, 04 July 2023 00:00

Foot and ankle pain can be a nuisance in a person’s life, especially if it happens frequently. The best way to prevent this type of pain, is to exercise often. Regular exercise of the foot includes stretching and strength exercises. Stretching exercises can help prevent injuries such as a sprained ankle, while strength exercises can prevent ailments such as plantar fasciitis.

Stretching exercises can help improve flexibility and the foot and ankle’s range of motion. These exercises can certainly help with those who participate in high-energy activities such as sports. Many athletes routinely perform foot and ankle exercises to prevent injuries like sprained ankles, which are common injuries where the tendons in the ankle are over stretched. Strength exercises help develop foot muscles for better support and protection.

Most exercises are simple and can be done at home, either standing or sitting. One chair exercise is called “limber up”. In this exercise, a person would start by sitting down with their feet flat on the floor. Then lift one leg up so the feet are not touching the floor, then rotate your foot clockwise 15-20 times, and 15-20 times counterclockwise. Repeat the same process with the opposite leg. Another sitting exercise helps stretch the back of your heel and requires an exercise band. It begins by looping the band around a heavy piece of furniture, or something stable that will not be moved when the band is tugged or pulled. Then sit directly in front of it, and slide one foot into the loop, so that the band curves around the forefoot. Start by pulling the forefoot back and holding it for 5-10 seconds. Doing this 10-15 times on each foot, will stretch the back of your heel, increasing your flexibility.

Foot exercises that require standing are also just as easy and simple. Referred as the “Achilles Stretch”, this exercise stretches the Achilles tendon, making it more flexible, helping prevent foot, ankle, and leg pain. It begins by first standing and facing the wall, with the arms outstretched and the palms on the wall. Then place one foot behind another keeping the back leg straight, and the forward leg bending at the knee. Make sure both heels are flat on the floor and adjust your stance accordingly. With your hips, lean forward to feel the stretch, you can also adjust the distance from your feet to feel the stretch in various parts of the calf. Make sure to hold the stretch for about 30 seconds and repeat the same process 3 times with each leg. An even easier foot exercise is simply walking on sand. Walking barefoot on sand both strengthens and stretches your feet.

Doing these exercises regularly can help prevent many foot and ankle problems. Other foot exercises can even relieve pain. For example, those affected with plantar fasciitis can simply sit down on a chair, and then place a tennis ball below their affected foot. By rolling the ball under the foot, and increasing or decreasing pressure, pain will be relieved. With any exercise, it is always important to do a small warmup such as walking a few laps around the house to get the blood flowing. If after doing an exercise to relieve pain such as the tennis ball exercise, or are unsure that your execution is correct, be sure to contact a podiatrist for further instruction.

Tuesday, 27 June 2023 00:00

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. The plantar fascia is the thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. When this band of connective tissue becomes inflamed, plantar fasciitis occurs. Fortunately, this condition is treatable.

There are several factors that may put you at a greater risk for developing plantar fasciitis. One of the biggest factors is age; plantar fasciitis is common in those between the ages of 40 to 60. People who have jobs that require them to be on their feet are also likely to develop plantar fasciitis. This includes factory workers, teachers, and others who spend a large portion of their day walking around on hard surfaces. Another risk factor is obesity because excess weight can result in extra stress being placed on the plantar fascia.

People with plantar fasciitis often experience a stabbing pain in the heel area. This pain is usually at its worst in the morning, but can also be triggered by periods of standing or sitting. Plantar fasciitis may make it hard to run and walk. It may also make the foot feel stiff and sensitive, which consequently makes walking barefoot difficult.

Treatment for plantar fasciitis depends on the severity of the specific case of the condition. Ice massage applications may be used to reduce pain and inflammation. Physical therapy is often used to treat plantar fasciitis, and this may include stretching exercises. Another treatment option is anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen.

If you suspect that you have plantar fasciitis, meet with your podiatrist immediately. If left untreated, symptoms may lead to tearing and overstretching of the plantar fascia. The solution is early detection and treatment. Be sure to speak with your podiatrist if you are experiencing heel pain.

Tuesday, 20 June 2023 00:00

Diabetes is the condition in which the body does not properly process food for use as energy. People with Type 1 diabetes cannot produce insulin, which is required for glucose to feed your body’s cells. It is typically caused by the immune system mistaking healthy cells for foreign invaders and destroying the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. On the other hand, people with Type 2 diabetes cannot respond to insulin properly, and eventually cannot produce enough.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that over 30 million people in the United States have diabetes, with 1 in 4 having no idea they have it. Surprisingly, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the US. The symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, fatigue, hunger, and even blurry vision.

Diabetes can also affect the feet as well. Over time, diabetes can cause nerve damage to your feet, which could then lead to symptoms such as tingling, pain and numbness in the feet. Neuropathy can be very dangerous to a person with diabetes, since it prevents them from feeling injuries such as cuts or blisters in the feet, and if not detected early enough, may lead to infection. Neuropathy can also lead changes in the shape of your feet and toes. The best way for people with diabetes to prevent or delay neuropathy is keeping their blood glucose levels in their target range. This consists of eating right, having the correct amount of exercise, and taking medications.

Diabetes can also create calluses and foot ulcers as well. Calluses build up faster and occur more frequently with those affected by diabetes. If there are too many calluses, therapeutic shoes and inserts may be required. It is important to have calluses trimmed by a health professional, as doing it yourself may lead to infections. If these calluses continue to develop and thicken, they can lead to foot ulcers. Foot ulcers are open sores, that appear on the ball of the foot or on the bottom of the big toe. These ulcers can lead to future infections if not treated and may possibly result in losing a limb. It is important to report any ulcers to your podiatrist right away. Your doctor may take x-rays to examine the foot and clean out any dead and infected tissue.

Lastly, diabetes can also lead to poor circulation and peripheral arterial disease (PAD). The poor circulation in the feet and leg area is a result of diabetes narrowing and hardening, eventually slowing down the blood flow in that area. The best way to prevent this is to keep away from smoking and follow your doctor’s advice for maintaining blood pressure and cholesterol. PAD is similar to this complication. PAD is when blood vessels narrow or are blocked by fatty deposits. PAD also increases your risk of heart attacks and strokes and is a common condition to those affected by diabetes. The combination of both PAD and neuropathy may lead to infections and can result in amputation of certain limbs. PAD can be prevented with wearing the proper foot wear and regularly taking care of your feet.

If you want to take care of your feet, you should wash and dry them carefully and perform daily inspections to check for cuts, blisters, or swelling. Any physical activity you partake in should be approved by your health care provider. You should also be sure to wear special shoes if advised to do so by your doctor.

Tuesday, 13 June 2023 00:00

When conservative, noninvasive treatments prove unsuccessful, podiatrists will often turn to surgery as the last line of treatment for their patients. If patients are suffering from joint pain, issues in mobility, or are seeking to correct a deformity, joint replacement surgery is an effective option. Joint replacement surgery is also successful in treating arthritis, which is the most common cause of improperly working joints.

Patients with symptoms that include joint pain, stiffness, limping, muscle weakness, limited motion, and swelling are typically considered for joint replacement surgery. Range of motion and activity post-surgery will vary between patients and depending on the specific surgery performed, the affected joint, and the damage that will need to be repaired.

Joint replacement surgery replaces the damaged cartilage and bone, the latter if required. The damaged cartilage is typically replaced with a prosthesis that is attached to the bone, allowing the implant to grow into the bone. Following surgery, the patient will typically undergo physical therapy to become familiar with movement using the replaced joint.

 

Tuesday, 06 June 2023 00:00

A congenital foot problem is a problem affecting the feet, toes, and/or ankle that a child is born with. Several issues with a child’s feet can occur congenitally. Such problems include clubfoot, vertical talus, tarsal coalition, polydactyly, macrodactyly, and cleft foot. Some of these problems have a genetic basis, with someone in their family history having a gene causing the condition, and some are simply an anomaly.

The following are specifics about a few of these conditions:

-    Clubfoot, also called congenital talipes equinovarus or talipes equinovarus, is When the tendons of the foot shorten, the bones are of an unusual shape, and the Achilles tendon is tight, causing an inward and downward pointing of the foot. The soles of the feet might also face each other. In most cases of clubfoot, both feet are affected. If not treated, the affected child will walk on the sides of their feet or ankles.

-    Polydactyly is a condition where the child has more than five fingers or toes on either or both feet. Presentation usually consists of a nubbin or small lump of tissue without a bone, a toe that is partially formed but has no joints, or an extra toe.

-    Vertical talus is where the talus bone forms in the wrong position, other bones in the foot do not line up properly, the front of the foot points up, and the bottom of the foot is stiff, has no arch, and usually curves out. This can occur in one or both feet and if left untreated, can lead to serious disability or discomfort as the child grows.

-    Tarsal coalition is when there is an abnormal connection of two or more bones in the foot leading to severe, rigid flatfoot. The tarsal bones, located toward the back of the foot and in the heel, are the ones affected. This condition is often present at birth, but signs of the disorder usually come on in early adolescence.

-    Cleft foot is a rare condition where the foot has missing toes, a V-shaped cleft, and other anatomical differences. Surgery can often help improve the foot’s function since the heel remains normal and is what is most needed for walking. The main issues with this affliction are whether the affected foot can fit into a shoe and the shape and appearance of the foot.

-    Macrodactyly is when the toes are abnormally large due to overgrowth of the underlying bone or soft tissue. Having this condition makes it harder for the child to use the affected foot for certain activities.


 

Tuesday, 30 May 2023 00:00

Toe pain can originate from corns, calluses, hammertoes, and bunions, as well as ingrown toenails, sprains, fractures, and dislocations. Corns develop as the toe rubs against the inside of a shoe which causes the skin to thicken as a form of protection. A corn is typically cone-shaped and has a small, hardened spot that points inward. When a corn is pressed into the skin, the toe becomes painful. Corns usually form on the top or side of the toe. A callus is also a thickened patch of skin that generally forms on the bottom of the foot. Calluses are the result of friction from the toe rubbing against the inside of a shoe. They may also occur by walking barefoot or having flat feet. A hammertoe is a bump on the knuckle of the second toe that is produced by wearing shoes that are too short for your feet. The bony protrusion rubs against the top of the shoe causing pain and irritation. A bunion is a malformation of the big toe. The base of the big toe pushes away from the smaller toes, forcing the top of the big toe to press toward the other toes. Bunions can be hereditary, or they can result from injury to the toe joint or from wearing high heels with a narrow toe box. The toe becomes inflamed, and a bump may develop at the end of the misplaced bone. Ingrown toenails typically affect the big toe and its surrounding skin. The nail will dig into the skin and become painful. Wearing tight or narrow shoes that compress the big toe causes the nail to grow into the fleshy part of the toe. Cutting toenails incorrectly can also add to the development of an ingrown toenail. A toe sprain originates from a torn or stretched ligament. Strapping the injured toe to the toe next to it for stabilization is common. A broken or fractured toe usually occurs from trauma like dropping a heavy object on it or bumping into something extremely hard and rigid. Osteoporosis, a thinning of the bones, can also bring about toe fractures. 

Any of the conditions mentioned can lead to pain and irritation. While some are more serious than others, seeking an examination and diagnosis from a podiatrist is a good idea. A podiatrist can treat each ailment and get you back on your feet again without pain.


 

Tuesday, 23 May 2023 00:00

Cracked heels can make life very frustrating and embarrassing when displaying the bare feet. Aside from being unpleasing to the eye, they can also tear stockings and socks and wear out shoes at a faster rate. When severe, cracked heels may cause pain or infection.

Cracked heels are a problem for those who are athletic, those who may walk a lot, and those who have especially dry skin. Those who use medication that dry the skin, those who swim often, wearing certain types of shoes, and those who are diabetic may have trouble with cracked heels. Seniors whose skin produces less oil may also have trouble with cracked feet. There is no one way to develop cracked feet, and there is no cure.

Today, the market consists of numerous products that have a variety of ingredients to promote healing. Some of these are over-the-counter. Others are prescribed by a doctor, especially for those who have chronic dry feet and heels.

Some doctors recommend wearing socks at night for those with rough skin. This helps further healing, and helps creams stay on longer and better absorb into the skin.

One way to alleviate dryness that causes cracked heels is by using moisturizers both day and night. Another way is to make sure the skin is clean and dry at all times. Using a pumice stone to buff away dead skin before putting on moisturizer can also help. Cracked heels will not respond to the cream unless the outer layer of skin is first removed through exfoliation. After exfoliation, lotion or ointment will be absorbed by the skin more easily.

Foods that produce healing and balance can also help the skin from within. Everything that is put into the body can either help it or hurt it. Taking supplements of omega-3 fatty acids and zinc can also be very beneficial.

Nevertheless, not all products are guaranteed to help treat cracked feet. Seeing a professional is best if other treatments options were unsuccessful. A podiatrist should be able to give the best advice to help with this problem.

Tuesday, 16 May 2023 00:00

Stress fractures are small breaks in the bone that are caused by repetitive stress. They typically occur due to overuse, forcing the bones of the foot or ankle to continually absorb the full impact of each step taken. Stress fractures can also be caused by abnormal foot structure, osteoporosis, bone deformities, or wearing improper footwear during exercise.

Stress fractures are common for individuals whose daily activities cause high levels of impact on their feet and ankles. Those who run, play tennis or basketball, or practice gymnastics tend to experience these fractures more frequently. Anyone is susceptible to this problem, though. Individuals who are normally sedentary and suddenly begin an intense, high impact workout may sustain stress fractures. This is because their muscles are not yet strong enough to handle and cushion the intensity of their activity. Osteoporosis may also cause someone to get stress fractures, because the disease weakens an afflicted person's bones and makes it easier for them to break down.

Pain from stress fractures typically occurs in the general area of the fracture. Pain can also manifest as “pinpoint pain” or pain that is felt when the site of the injury is touched, and can be accompanied by swelling. It may occur during or after activity, and it may disappear while resting and return when standing or moving. Engaging in any kind of activity, high impact or otherwise, will aggravate the pain. If the intensity of the activity increases before the stress fracture has properly healed, it can cause a full fracture.

Treatment can vary depending on the individual and the degree of injury. The primary way to treat a stress fracture is to rest the hurt foot. Some fractures will heal quickly with only a little bit of rest, while others may require a long rest period and the use of crutches, immobilization, or physical therapy. Under certain circumstances, surgery may be required to install support pins around the fracture to assist in healing.

If you are undergoing a new exercise regimen in running or some other kind of high impact activity, set incremental goals on a weekly basis so you can build up muscle strength. Make sure to wear supportive shoes to better protect you feet.

If you begin to experience any symptoms of stress fractures, you should stop exercising and rest. If the symptoms persist, consult with your podiatrist. Remembering these tips can help you prevent stress fractures to your foot and ankle, and allow you to continue living normally.

Tuesday, 09 May 2023 00:00

Athlete’s foot, or tinea pedis, is a skin disease caused by a fungal infection.  The infection typically occurs between the toes, and the feet are most subject to this disease because shoes best create the warm, dark, and moist environment in which fungus thrives.  Other areas that create a similar environment, such as swimming pools, public showers, and locker rooms; can also promote fungi growth. 

Symptoms of athlete’s foot include dry skin, itching, scaling, inflammation, and blistering.  Sometimes, blisters can evolve into the cracks or breaks in the skin.  The exposed tissue can then create pain, swelling, and discharge.  The spread of infection can cause itching and burning as well.

While athlete’s foot commonly occurs between the toes, it may also spread to the toenails or soles of the feet.  Other parts of the body, such as the groin or underarms, can also become infected if they are touched after the original area of infection is scratched.  Aside from physical contact, athlete’s foot can also spread through the contamination of footwear, clothing or bedsheets.

Proper foot hygiene is essential in preventing athlete’s foot.  You can prevent the fungus from spreading by frequently washing your feet using soap and water, thoroughly drying the feet between the toes, changing shoes and socks every day to reduce moisture, and ensuring that bathroom and shower floors are disinfected.  Other tips include using shower shoes, avoiding walking barefoot in public environments, wearing light and airy shoes, and wearing socks that keep the feet dry.

While treatment for athlete’s foot can involve topical or oral antifungal drugs, mild cases of the infection can be treated by dusting foot powder in shoes and socks.  Any treatment used can be supplemented by frequently bathing the feet and drying the toes.  If proper foot hygiene and self-care do not ease your case of athlete’s foot, contact your podiatrist.  He will determine if the underlying cause of your condition is truly a fungus.  If that is the case, a comprehensive treatment plan may be suggested with the inclusion of prescription antifungal medications.

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