Posts for: February, 2017
If you're a runner, it goes without saying that your feet take the brunt of the punishment. In fact, for runners the feet are more vulnerable to injury than any other part of the body. Luckily, both long-distance runners and casual joggers can improve their performance by paying extra attention to their feet and taking steps to prevent common foot problems. Poor fitting footwear is often the source of many foot problems caused by running. A visit to our practice can help you determine the best shoes for your foot structure.
A Runner's Roadblock
While many running-related foot injuries can result from a fall or twisted ankle, most running injuries are caused by overuse, meaning the majority of runners experience foot and ankle pain because they do too much for too long. Runners should be aware of the signs of foot problems that can slow them down if not treated promptly. Common foot and ankle injuries experienced by runners include:
Achilles Tendonitis: Achilles tendonitis and other calf-related injuries are prevalent in runners. Poor training, overuse and improper footwear are the three most common reasons for this condition. A sudden increase in distance or pace can strain the muscles and tendons in the foot and ankle, causing small tears within these structures that result in pain and inflammation. Appropriate shoes and training are the most important steps to preventing Achilles tendonitis. Conservative treatment includes rest, ice, stretching and sometimes orthotics or physical therapy.
Heel Pain: Runners develop heel pain more than any other foot-related injury. Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain, the result of placing excessive stress on the ligament in the bottom of the foot. Rest, stretching and support are the best ways to ease the pain and inflammation. Reduce your mileage and avoid hill and speed workouts. Stretch before and after you run, and ice your heel after each workout. Special splints and shoe inserts from our practice may also provide support and relief for your heel pain.
Stress Fractures: Stress fractures are small cracks in the surface of a bone. Runners generally notice gradual muscle soreness, stiffness and pain on the affected bone, most often in the lower leg or the foot. Early diagnosis is critical, as a small fracture can spread and eventually become a complete fracture of the bone. Stress fractures are typically caused by increasing training more quickly than the body's ability to build up and strengthen the bone.
If you have symptoms of a stress fracture, you should stop running immediately and see a podiatrist. This injury can keep a runner off the track for several weeks, and is not an injury that you can run through. Depending on the severity of the stress fracture, a cast may be necessary.
If you experience chronic foot pain from running, make an appointment with a podiatrist. Leaving foot injuries untreated could result in more serious conditions, ultimately keeping you from your best performance. Keep in mind that these are not the only foot ailments caused by running, and when at-home foot care isn't effective, you'll need to be evaluated by a podiatrist. As in most cases, prevention is the best medicine. Good footwear, proper training and recognizing a problem before it becomes serious are your keys to staying on the road and avoiding foot injuries.
Athlete's foot is one of the most common fungal infections of the skin and is frequently seen in our office. Whether you've had it or not, it's important to understand how you can avoid and treat this highly contagious infection if you do contract it.
The fungus that causes athlete's foot thrives in damp, moist environments and often grows in warm, humid climates, such as locker rooms, showers and public pools; hence the name "athlete's foot. " This infection can itch and burn causing the skin on your feet and between your toes to crack and peel.
Tips For avoiding Athlete's Foot:
- Keep your feet dry, allowing them to air out as much as possible
- Wear socks that draw moisture away from your feet and change them frequently if you perspire heavily
- Wear light, well-ventilated shoes
- Alternate pairs of shoes, allowing time for your shoes to dry each day
- Always wear waterproof shoes in public areas, such as pools, locker rooms, or communal showers
- Never borrow shoes due to the risk of spreading a fungal infection
A mild case of athlete's foot will generally clear up on its own with over-the-counter antifungal creams and sprays. But since re-infection is common due to its contagious nature, many people require prescribed anti-fungal medication to effectively treat the infection. Generally, it's always best to consult with your podiatrist before choosing a treatment.
Mild cases of athlete's foot can turn severe and even cause a serious bacterial infection. If you notice your rash has become increasingly red, swollen and painful or you develop blisters and sores, call our office right away. Athlete's foot left untreated could eventually spread to other body parts and infect other people around you.
With the right treatment, you'll be cured of your athlete's foot in no time, which means the sooner you can enjoy the activities you love without pain and irritation!
Bone spurs, also known as osteophytes, can occur anywhere in the skeletal system, and the feet are no exception. Bone spurs are simply overgrowths of bone, which most commonly form where two bones come together. Normally bone spurs in the feet are painless, but when exposed to pressure, they can cause the excess bone to rub against other nerve endings or soft tissues, resulting in pain.
Causes of Bone Spurs in the Feet
When your feet are repeatedly exposed to excessive pressure and stress, a bone spur can form as a result of the body's normal response to repair itself. The following activities and conditions are common causes:
- High-impact activities, such as running
- Excessive weight
- Poor-fitting footwear
- Tightening of the plantar fasciitis due to excessive stress
Because there are no obvious symptoms associated with bone spurs in the feet, diagnosing the disorder can be difficult. Some people experience unbearable pain in particular areas of their foot when exposed to pressure, which prompts them to seek medical care. Other people can go long periods of time without realizing they even have a bone spur. An x-ray can identify a bone spur in your foot, but if it isn't causing you pain, damaging other tissues or restricting your movement, treatment probably won't be necessary.
Identifying the cause of your bone spur, such as poor-fitting shoes or weight gain, is often times enough to reduce the pressure that is causing the pain.
Conservative treatments for bone spurs include:
- Change in footwear
- Weight loss
- Padding or insoles
- Deep tissue massage and stretching
If you're experiencing chronic foot pain, schedule an appointment at our office. We'll carefully examine your feet and evaluate your symptoms to better understand your condition. If you've developed a bone spur, we can work with you to create a treatment plan that best fits your needs and puts an end to your frustrating foot pain.
A bunion is an abnormal, bony prominence that develops on the joint at the base of your big toe. As the big toe joint becomes enlarged, it forces the toe to crowd against your other toes, and the pressure exerted on your big toe joint results in inflammation and pain. Early treatment is necessary to decrease the risk of developing joint deformities.
Bunions develop due to prolonged abnormal pressure or motion on your big toe joint, most often caused by inherited structural defects, poor-fitting shoes, foot injuries, or congenital deformities. Women are generally more prone to bunions because of the shoe types typically worn, such as high-heels and narrow-toed shoes.
Bunion pain can range from mild to severe, often making it difficult to wear shoes and perform normal activities. You should contact our office if you notice the following symptoms:
- An enlarged, visible bulge on your big toe joint
- Restricted movement of your big toe or foot that prevents you from performing normal activities
- Irritation, corns or calluses caused by the overlap of the first and second toes
- Frequent pain, swelling or redness around your big toe joint
Treatment For a Bunion
Treatment for a bunion will vary depending on its severity. Identifying the condition in its early stages is important to avoid surgery, with the main objective of early treatment being to relieve pressure and stop the progression of the deformity. Many times conservative treatments, such as padding, modified footwear or orthotic devices can be highly effective for preventing further growth and reducing the pressure and pain.
We recommend the following for reducing pressure and pain caused by bunions:
- Wear comfortable shoes that don't cramp or irritate your toes and avoid high-heeled shoes
- Apply ice to reduce inflammation and pain
- Our podiatrists can show you how to apply padding to your foot to place it in its normal position and reduce stress on the bunion
When early treatments fail or the persistent pain associated with your bunion is interfering with your daily activities, a surgical procedure may be recommended as a last resort to realign the toe joint and alleviate the pressure. We can advise you on the best treatment options available to relieve pressure on the bunion and slow the progression of the joint deformity.
Corns and calluses are thick, hardened areas of skin that develop in response to your body's natural defense to repeated pressure or friction. While neither condition presents a long-term or serious health risk, they can be painful, irritating and unattractive.
Identifying a Corn or Callus
Corns and calluses are similar in nature, but differ in size and location. Corns are smaller than calluses and usually have a hard, thickened center surrounded by red, inflamed skin. They typically develop on the tops and sides of your toes and can be painful when touched. Calluses generally develop on your heels and balls of your feet. They vary in size and shape, although almost always larger than corns.
For most people who develop calluses or corns, eliminating the source of pressure is usually enough to make the thickened skin disappear. We recommend the following for treating corns and calluses:
- Wear comfortable shoes and socks. When footwear fits properly, there is less opportunity for friction and rubbing to occur.
- Soak your feet in warm, soapy water to help remove corns and calluses. Rub the thickened skin with a pumice stone to remove toughened layers more easily.
- Keeping your feet moisturized with foot cream or lotion will help improve the quality of your skin and rid your feet from calluses or corns.
When to Seek Care
When corns and calluses don't respond to conservative care, contact our office for a careful evaluation. We can investigate the possible causes of your corn or callus, safely remove the thick, hardened area of skin, and recommend appropriate footwear and treatment, including padding and inserts. Never attempt to cut away a corn or callus on your own, especially if you have diabetes or poor circulation. Instead, seek advice for careful removal and proper care.