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Monday, 07 September 2015 00:00

Elderly and their Feet

While proper foot care is important for everybody, senior citizens have the tendency to be more susceptible to certain conditions and should therefore be well informed about problems that may arise and what they can do to properly avoid or treat them.

Some of the most common problems are foot ulcers, ingrown toenails, fallen arches, and fungal infection. A foot ulcer is an open sore on the foot and can be a result of decreased sensation in the feet. An ingrown toenail is defined as when the nail grows into the side of the toe. Fallen arches are indicated by the instep of the foot collapsing. A fungal infection is a condition that results in deformed and discolored toenails.

In order to avoid these conditions it is recommended that the feet be inspected on a regular basis. If these inspections are carried out routinely, there is a good likelihood that problems can be identified before they become severe, or can even be avoided altogether. If any abnormality is discovered, it is important that you consult a doctor for diagnosis and information on treatment options.

Proper foot hygiene is also important. Making sure that you always have clean, dry socks on can be a major deterrent to many different problems including bacterial infections, foot odor, and certain types of fungus. Wet feet are a major cause of many of these problems. If your socks get wet, it is important to change them. Walking around in wet socks may not only lead to various infections, but can irritate the skin and result in a number of various complications. Clean, dry feet are less likely to be affected by fungal and other infections. If you can keep the skin on your feet healthy, this will substantially reduce the number of foot problems you will encounter in old age.

Proper footwear is another way to keep feet healthy. Shoes that fit well and provide proper support help prevent ingrown toenails and fallen arches.

Certain medical conditions such as diabetes or poor blood circulation increase the risk for foot issues. For individuals with any of these conditions it is extremely important to conduct regular foot inspections to make sure that there are no sores or infections present.

Monday, 31 August 2015 00:00

What to Know About a Broken Toe

Trauma to the foot, especially the toes, can occur in many ways. Banging them, stubbing them, or dropping something on them are a few different ways this trauma can occur. Given the fact that toes are positioned in front of the feet, they typically sustain the brunt of such trauma. When trauma occurs to a toe, the result can be a painful break or fracture. Another type of trauma that can break a toe is repeated activity that places stress on the toe for prolonged periods of time.

Broken toes can be categorized as either minor or severe fractures. Symptoms of minor toe fractures include throbbing pain, swelling, bruising on the skin and toenail, and the inability to move the toe with ease. Severe toe fractures require medical attention and are indicated when the broken toe appears crooked or disfigured, when there is tingling or numbness in the toe, or when there is an open, bleeding wound present on the toe.

Generally, a minor toe break will heal without long-term complications, but it is important to discontinue activities that put pressure on the toe. It is best to stay off of the injured toe and immediately get a splint or cast to prevent any additional movement of the toe bones. You can also immobilize your toe by placing a small cotton ball between the injured toe and the toe beside it, then taping the two toes together with medical tape. Swelling can be alleviated by placing an ice pack on the broken toe directly as well as elevating your feet above your head.

Severe toe fractures may be treated with a splint, cast, and in some cases, minor surgery; especially when the big toe has been broken. Due to its position and the pressure it endures with daily activity, future complications can occur if the big toe is not properly treated. Pain associated with minor toe fractures can be managed with over-the-counter pain medications, and prescription pain killers may be necessary for severe toe fractures.

The healing time for a broken toe is approximately four to six weeks. In severe cases where the toe becomes infected or requires surgery, healing time can take up to eight weeks or more. While complications associated with a broken toe are immediately apparent, it is important to note that there are rare cases when additional complications, such as osteoarthritis, can develop over time. You should immediately speak with your podiatrist if you think you have broken your toe due to trauma, as they will be able to diagnose the injury and recommend the appropriate treatment options. 

Monday, 24 August 2015 20:09

Flat Feet

Affecting about 20-30% of the population, flat feet is a condition in which the foot’s arch either drops or never develops. Flat feet is relatively common in babies and small children as a result of the arch not developing. Adults can develop flat feet as a result of injury or pregnancy due to increased elasticity. However, in adults flat feet is usually a permanent condition.

Flat feet can make walking difficult since it places undue stress on the ankles. This stress throws off the general alignment of the legs since flat feet cause the ankles to move inward, causing discomfort. Flat feet can also affect the knees since arthritis is a common condition in that area. Fortunately, in many cases flat feet do not directly cause any pain.

When it comes to runners, there are specific shoes that can help realign the ankles and provide more support while lessening the amount of pronation involved. Running often causes weight shifting very quickly, so it’s important to be informed whether or not you are affected by flat feet. Knowledge about flat feet is crucial, especially when it comes to preventing injuries.

To be able to diagnose flat feet, a test commonly used is known as the wet footprint test. In the wet footprint test, the individual places a flat foot on a surface to generate a footprint. If there is no indication of an arch or any indentations, that person could have flat feet. In any case, if there is a possibility of having flat feet, a podiatrist should be consulted.

Once flat foot has been diagnosed, it can be treated by wearing insoles. There are two types of flat feet. The first type is rigid, where the feet appear to have no arch even if the affected person is not standing. The other condition, known as flexible flat feet, occurs when the arch seems to ‘go away’ when someone is standing but appears while sitting. In the case of flexible flat feet, unless pain is caused by the condition, there is no need for treatment. However, in the case of rigid flat feet or pain involved in flexible flat feet, orthotic insoles and exercises are prescribed to help the arches develop.

Monday, 17 August 2015 18:04

Keeping Children's Feet Healthy

Having healthy feet in childhood can help prevent medical problems later in life, namely in the back and legs. As children grow, their feet require different types of care from birth to school-age.

Although babies do not walk yet, it is still very important to take care of their feet.

  • Avoid putting tight shoes or socks on his or her feet
  • Allow the baby to stretch and kick his or her feet to feel comfortable

As a toddler, kids are now on the move and begin to develop differently. At this age toddlers are getting a feel for walking, so don’t be alarmed if your toddler is unsteady or ‘walks funny’. Be sure the child wears comfortable and protective shoes so that they can grow into their feet properly.

As your child gets older, it is important to teach them how to take care of their feet

  • Show them proper hygiene to prevent infections such as fungus
  • Be watchful of any pain or injury
  • Have all injuries checked by a doctor as soon as possible
  • Comfortable, protective shoes should always be worn, especially at play

Children of all ages are constantly developing and growing, and as a parent you want to make sure that nothing is hindering their maturation. This includes caring for their feet, as healthy feet are important in order to live a normal, fulfilling life.

Monday, 10 August 2015 00:18

What are Achilles Tendon Injuries

The Achilles tendon is the strongest tendon in the human body. Its purpose is to connect the lower leg muscles and calf to the heel of the foot. This tendon is responsible for facilitating all types of movement, like walking and running. Since this tendon provides an enormous amount of mobility to an individual, any injuries inflicted to this tissue should be immediately brought up with a physician to prevent further damage.

The most common injuries that can trouble the Achilles tendon are tendon ruptures and Achilles tendinitis. Achilles tendinitis is the milder of the two injuries and can be recognized by the following symptoms: inflammation, dull to severe pain, an increased flow of blood to the tendon, thickening of the tendon, and slower movement time. Tendinitis can be treated via several methods and is often diagnosed by an MRI.

An Achilles tendon rupture is trickier to heal, and is by far the most painful injury. It is caused by the tendon ripping or completely snapping. The results are immediate and absolutely devastating, and will render the patient immobile. If a rupture or tear occurs, operative and non-operative methods are available. Once the treatment begins, depending on the severity of the injury, recovery time for these types of issues can take up to a year.

Simple preventative measures can be taken as a means to avoid both injuries. Prior to any movement, taking a few minutes to stretch out the tendon is a great way to stimulate the tissue. Calf raises, squats, leg curls, leg extensions, leg raises, lunges, and leg presses are all suggested ways to help strengthen the lower legs and promote Achilles tendon health.

Many problems arise among athletes and people who overexert themselves while exercising or who do not properly warm up before beginning an activity. Proper, comfortable shoes that fit correctly can also decrease tendon injuries. Some professionals also suggest that when exercising, you should make sure that the floor you are on is cushioned or has a mat, as this will relieve pressure on the heels. As always, a healthy diet will also increase tendon health.

It is very important to seek out a podiatrist if you believe you have an injury in the Achilles region, because further damage could result in severe complications that would make being mobile difficult, if not impossible.

Monday, 03 August 2015 01:49

Ankle Foot Orthotics For Athletes

Ankle and foot orthotics, known as AFOs, are custom-made inserts, shaped and contoured to fit inside a shoe and used to correct an irregular walking gait or provide cushioning. Orthotics come in a variety of different models and sizes, including both over the counter and customizable variants. Customizable ones should be prescribed through a podiatrist who specializes in customized footwear and orthotics design and management.

AFOs are often used by athletes including track and field runners, cyclists, professional dancers, ice skaters, and even golfers. They benefit a lot from custom made AFOs by preventing injuries from occurring and provide cushioning to keep pain levels down to a minimum. Ankle foot orthotics allow for the correct positioning of the feet and also act as shock absorbers to help keep pressure and stress off the foot and ankle. They can also relieve back pain and hip pain while restoring balance and improving an athlete’s performance.

The way they help alleviate pain is by controlling the movement of both your feet and ankles. They are custom designed by a podiatrist or orthopedic specialist to help treat foot problems such as flat feet, spurs, arthritis of the ankle or foot, ankle sprains, weakness, and drop foot, a condition in which the patient cannot raise their foot at the ankle joint.

With custom orthotics, a patient will go through a complete examination of the foot and ankle, followed by the ankle and foot being cast and fitted for the proper orthotic. Depending upon the final result of the tests, a stretching treatment is created with specific shoe fitting in mind. After they have been fitted to the shoes, adjustments can be made in order to get the perfect fit and completely fill out the shoe. Evaluations are then usually set up to monitor the patient in the coming weeks to see how they are adjusting.

AFOs are also available over the counter and are more common than custom fit ones. Athletes that have generally low aches and pains in the foot, ankle, or lower back area can use an over the counter version of these orthotics. Weight is still distributed evenly throughout the bottom of the foot thanks to the arch support they give, but when an injury or ailment occurs, it is usually not enough to try and remedy it with an over the counter version. In either case, a podiatrist will be able to offer the best advice and treatment when it comes to foot and ankle orthotics and handle all your foot care needs.

Monday, 27 July 2015 20:09

Everything You Need to Know About Gout

Gout, typically found in diabetic patients, is an unusually painful form of arthritis caused by elevated levels of uric acid in the bloodstream. The condition typically strikes the metatarsal phalangeal joint on the big toe; though it has been known to strike the knees, elbows, fingers, ankles and wrists—generally anywhere that has a functioning, moving joint.

The high level of uric acid in a person’s bloodstream creates the condition known as hyperuricema—the main cause of gout. Genetic predisposition occurs in nine out of ten sufferers and the children of parents who suffer gout will have a two in ten chance of developing the condition as well.

This form of arthritis, again noted as being particularly painful, is the leftover uric acid crystallizing in the blood stream and travel to the space between joints where they rub causing agonizing friction when the patient moves. Symptoms include: pain, redness, swelling, and inflammation. Tertiary side effects may include fatigue and fever though reports of these effects are very rare. Some patients have reported that, as the temperature drops (when you sleep for instance) the pain may intensify.

Most cases of gout are easily diagnosed by a podiatrist’s assessment of the various symptoms, however there are defined tests that can be performed. A blood test to detect elevated levels of uric acid is often used as well as the use of an x-ray to diagnose visible and chronic gout.

Treatment for gout simply means eliminating symptoms; non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs (Colchicine and other corticosteroid drugs, etc.) will quell the redness, the swelling, and the inflammation, however, diet, lifestyle changes, and preventative drugs are necessary to fully combat the most severe cases.

Those that lead a sedentary lifestyle are at a higher risk for gout. Any amount of exercise decreases probability of repeat encounters with the condition. Also, staying away from, or reducing drastically, consumption of red meat, sea food, and fructose-sweetened drinks reduces the likelihood of chronic gout as well.

As for diet, beyond what has already been mentioned, ingesting Vitamin C, coffee, and particular dairy products help on the preventative maintenance side of healthy living. While new drugs are out on the market that inhibit the body’s production of uric acid-producing enzymes, reducing or eliminating as much as possible your overall levels of uric acid will ensure you lead a gout-free life.

Monday, 20 July 2015 21:53

Pregnancy and Foot Health

Many pregnant women complain about foot pain while they are expecting, primarily caused by weight gain and hormonal changes taking place in the body. By understanding how pregnancy impacts the health of a woman's feet, a pregnant woman can take action to keep her feet as healthy and comfortable as possible.

Because a woman's weight changes during pregnancy, more pressure is brought to bear on both the legs and the feet. This weight shift can cause two major foot problems: over-pronation, also known as flat feet, as well as edema, which is swelling of the feet. Over-pronation occurs when the arch of the foot flattens, causing the foot to roll inwards when the individual is walking, and can aggravate the plantar fascia tissues located along the bottom of the feet. If these tissues become inflamed, a pregnant woman can experience pain in the heel of the foot as well as severe foot pain while walking or standing. Swelling of the feet, or edema, often occurs in the later stages of pregnancy, caused by slow circulation and water retention, and may turn the feet a light purple color.

To keep feet in good health and prevent over-pronation, pregnant women should avoid walking barefoot and be sure they are wearing shoes that offer good arch support. Often a device known as an orthotic can be added to regular footwear in order to provide additional support for the feet during pregnancy. Any expectant mother whose feet hurt should first check to see if the shoes she is wearing are old, worn out and not offering the arch of the foot the proper support necessary to support and distribute the weight of her body during pregnancy.

To treat edema of the feet, a good start is to wear quality footwear which offers support and good circulation. Keep feet elevated whenever possible by using a foot stool while seated. Stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water to prevent water retention in the feet. Any swelling that occurs in only one foot should be examined as soon as possible by a doctor.

Good foot health during pregnancy can help expectant mothers avoid foot pain that leads to other health problems. Massaging the feet and doing regular gentle exercise like walking aids in foot health by contributing to good circulation. Supportive shoes are also a good investment that will support foot health during pregnancy.

Monday, 13 July 2015 14:38

Flip-flops and Feet

Flip-flops are often a popular choice of footwear for their ability to allow your feet to take in open air. As well as, for the freedom of movement they allow your toes. They are easy to slip on and can be worn with virtually any style of clothing. Flip-flops, however, despite their many benefits, can be detrimental for your foot health.

Despite their comfortableness, the frequent wearing of flip-flops can create problems in the lower body over time. Issues mainly stem from the fact that people walk differently in flip-flops compared to other footwear, such as sneakers. This is due to a change in one’s natural gait, which therefore creates stress in different parts of the body while simultaneously throwing off the body entirely. Problems can also arise in the arches and balls of the feet, as flip-flops provide little to no support to these areas.

Aside from long-term problems, flip-fops can also create short-term issues as well, such as ankle sprains and blisters. Weak materials that are flexible and bendable are generally used to manufacture flip-fops; these materials make a wearer prone to both trip and injure their ankles. Flip-flops can create blisters as the material rubs against the foot. People are much more at risk for infection while wearing flip-flops due to their openness; this also makes it easier to scrape and cut the foot since there is a lack of protection. If these cuts are left untreated and uncovered, the risk then becomes greater.

To prevent the aforementioned occurrences, purchase a pair of flip-flops that offer significant protection. The soles of the flip-flops should not be floppy, but sturdy and firm, and should not significantly bend or wiggle when lifted from the floor. Flip-flops made of high-quality materials will not be affected by this problem. While higher quality flip-flops may be more expensive, they will last longer and provide better protection compared to a cheaper pair. Brand name flip-flops sold from a quality manufacturer are a dependable option.

There is no problem in wearing your favorite pair of flip-flops so as long as you do not wear them daily or for extended periods of time. Flip-flops should be replaced every 3-4 months to ensure that they provide your feet with the best protection.

Monday, 06 July 2015 12:34

Foot Surgery

If noninvasive or less invasive procedures have failed you when it comes to problems with your feet, you may need to start thinking about getting foot surgery. There are many reasons why a person may need surgery on their feet, which include but are not limited to, problems with arthritis that have caused severe bone issues within your feet, deformities of the foot such as bone spurs and bunions, congenital malformations such as club foot and flat feet, and reconstruction to attend to injuries caused by accidents. Anyone of any age, race, or gender can undergo foot surgery if they feel the need to correct these problems and there are no limiting factors keeping people from getting their feet properly treated.

Depending on what needs to be done, there are many different types of surgeries to correct any issues you might have. For example, a bunionectomy is a procedure that will eliminate any growths on your feet, such as bunions, and have them removed via the surgery. If nerve pain and damage is what you are suffering from, then you may need to undergo procedures that will target the tissues that surround the painful nerve and potentially have them removed. If your bones need to be fused together or realigned, then surgical fusion of your feet is another option you might consider.

As mentioned before, many times when these issues are first discovered, other noninvasive or less invasive procedures are carrier out first before any surgery takes place. However, if all else fails, then surgery is the best option for you.

There are some obvious benefits to having surgery done on your feet. The first being that you will now be relieved of any pain in the foot or surrounding area, which means you can get back to doing activities you previously were unable to do. The second is that once you have completed your surgery, the problem will more often than not eliminate any recurring issues or pain.

Foot surgery techniques continue to advance yearly as better and more technologies become available for you. For example, endoscopic surgery is just one of the many advancements that have been made in the field of podiatric surgery. Many procedures are now able to take a less invasive route by using very small incisions and smaller, more refined instruments. On top of this, recovery time for surgeries has been significantly shortened leading to an overall positive advancement for all podiatric surgeries.

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