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Items filtered by date: February 2015
Tuesday, 24 February 2015 16:02

Plantar Fasciitis

Recently, a groundbreaking study concluded that their treatment combining ultrasound with steroid injections was 95% effective in the treatment of plantar fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis is a foot problem affecting the plantar fascia, a connective tissue in the heel. This condition is treatable, but in many cases can take up to a year to be effective.

Conventional treatments have included exercises, rest, arch supports, and night splints. If this proves to be inaffective, many patients undergo shockwave therapy. In shockwave therapy, sound waves are directed to the area where pain is experienced. This therapy can be affective, but is somewhat painful, and calls for several sessions. Even still, shockwave therapy does not always alleviate the pain caused by plantar fasciitis.

Luca M. Sconfienza, M.D., from the University of Genoa in Italy, conducted the study. The new treatment involves an ultrasound-guided technique with a steroid injection to the plantar fascia. It is a one time out patient procedure involving a small amount of anesthesia. Then an anesthetic needle punctures the affected area. This technique, known as dry needling, causes small amounts of bleeding that aid in healing the fesci.

It was discovered that 42 of the 44 patients involved in the study had their symptoms disappear entirely within three weeks. “This therapy is quicker, easier, less painful, and less expensive than shockwave therapy” Sconfienza stated. “In cases of mild plantar fasciitis, patients should first try noninvasive solutions before any other treatments. But when pain becomes annoying and affects the activities of daily living, dry-needling with steroid injection is a viable option," she added.

Published in Featured
Monday, 16 February 2015 16:01

Barefoot Running

A new trend in running and jogging has popped up recently, called barefoot running. Barefoot running is a popular and growing trend that is just what it sounds – running without shoes. Before deciding to do any running without shoes, it's best to understand how this kind of running affects the feet.

Running without shoes changes the motion of running. Most running is done by landing on the heel of the feet. Running barefoot requires a different way of running; in a barefoot stride landing is done on the front part of the feet. Because of this, the impact shifts from the heels to the front feet. Runners also shorten their strides to create a softer landing.

Running barefoot does have its advantages. When running and landing on the front feet, the impact on the feet and ankle is reduced, which may reduce the incidence of stress injuries. It strengthens muscles in the feet, and also strengthens muscles in the ankles and lower legs that aren't usually worked. Overall balance of the body is improved and there is greater sensory input from the feet to the rest of the body, making overall position and motion less stressful on the body. It has been found that in countries in which some of the population regularly wear shoes and some do not, numbers of foot and ankle injuries are much higher in those who wear shoes.

People hearing about barefoot running for the first time are skeptical about it, and there are good reasons for skepticism. Running barefoot certainly has its drawbacks, the obvious being no protection of the feet when running. This makes it likely that when runners land on sharp or rough objects, scrapes, bruises, and cuts on feet will result. Blisters will form when beginning this kind of running especially, you may have plantar fascia problems. Landing on the front feet constantly also increases the risk of getting Achilles tendonitis.

So what can runners do to make barefoot running safe? It’s best to make a slow transition from running shoes to barefoot running. The body is used to wearing shoes so to slowly transition to bare feet, start by walking barefoot for a distance and then increase walking distance. Once the feet begin to adjust, try walking and then jogging and gradually increase the distance. If you have foot problems talk to the doctor first before attempting barefoot running. When starting out, it may also be helpful to begin by running on pavement or other consistent surfaces to avoid sharp or rough objects. Minimalist running shoes may also be an option, as they allow for many of the benefits of barefoot running while also protecting the feet from cuts and scrapes.

Published in Featured
Monday, 09 February 2015 15:59

Heel Pain

Heel pain is a stressful condition that effects day to day activities. Running and walking causes stress on the heel because the heel is the part of the foot that hits the ground first. This means that the heel is taking on your entire weight. Diagnosis and treatments for heel pain can be easily found through your podiatrist.

One of the main causes of heel pain is a condition known as plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a band of tissue that extends along the bottom of the foot, from the toe to the bottom of the heel. A rip or tear in this ligament can cause inflammation of these tissues, resulting in heel pain. People who do not wear proper fitting shoes are often at risk of developing problems such as plantar fasciitis. Unnecessary stress from ill fitting shoes, weight change, excessive running, and wearing non-supportive shoes on hard surfaces are all causes of plantar fasciitis.

Achilles tendonitis is another cause of heel pain. Similar to plantar fasciitis, inflammation of the Achilles tendon will cause heel pain due to stress fractures and muscle tearing. A lack of flexibility of the ankle and heel is an indicator of Achilles tendonitis. If left untreated, this condition can lead to plantar fasciitis and cause even more pain on your heel.

A third cause of heel pain is a heel spur. A heel spur occurs when the tissues of the plantar fascia undergo a great deal of stress, leading to a separation of the ligament from the heel bone entirely. This results in a pointed fragment of bone on the ball of the foot, known as a heel spur.

Treatments for heel pain are easy and effective as long as problems are addressed quickly. The most common solution is simply taking stress off the feet, particularly off of the heel. This will ease the pain and allow the tendons and ligaments to relax. In the case of both plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis, icing will reduce swelling of any part of the foot and anti-inflammatory medication is highly recommended. Properly fitting your shoes and wearing heel pads or comfort insoles will also reduce the risk of developing heel pain. Stretching before and after exercises such as running will help the foot muscles prepare for stress and lower the chances of inflammatory pain. In extreme cases, relieving heel pain might require surgery. Always make sure to discuss these symptoms and treatment options with your podiatrist to keep yourself active and pain free.

Published in Featured
Monday, 02 February 2015 13:56

What Are Ankle/Foot Orthotics?

Orthotics is a field that focuses on the manufacturing, design, and use of aids used to support or direct the proper function of weak limbs. Ankle-foot orthotics, also known as AFOs, are braces that are worn on the ankle that can encompass either some or all of the foot. AFOS are predominantly use to help treat diseases that weaken or affect the musculature of an affected area in order to strengthen and train the muscles properly. It can also be noted that tight muscles in need of lengthening or loosening can also benefit from AFOs.

When one initially thinks of diseases that affect the musculature often the ‘big names’ come to mind. This includes muscular dystrophy, polio, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy. It’s rarely thought that a stroke or arthritis can also affect the musculature as well. Regardless of what trauma is affecting the musculature, however, there is a way to correct it. Orthotics help to control the range of motion, correct deformities, manage pain load and provide support by stabilizing walk. Podiatrists are consulted for all of these conditions whether it’s simply everyday pain, wasted musculature or those who ‘toe in’.

Before orthotic devices became modern devices, many polio victims wore metal braces from mid-thigh to the foot’s bottom. Many children ‘toed in’ wearing these metal braces. Design materials improved drastically and allow for new levels of functionality, comfort and even appearance. Many orthotics are derived from plastics and maintain an L shape, which is designed to fit inside a corrective shoe. These corrective shoes are available with built-up soles to help correct the gait or manage pain by sharing it with another area as the foot spreads during walking. In the past leather and fiberboard were used to provide rigidity that was needed for correction and support.

The podiatrist prescribes orthotics in an L shape since the foot moves on a hinge. If this hinge is not moving as it should, the muscles tighten up which reduces the foot’s flexibility. As we walk, the foot flexes as the muscles stretch. A brace or AFO supports the ankle and musculature during the foot’s flexing much as a knee brace would work. Corrective shoes are for those whose feet hit the ground backwards, causing arch problems and muscle tightness. Wedges and rocker bars on the heels correct the step to heel first and rock on the ball of the foot. This results in stronger ankles and a more relaxed musculature.

Appearance also counts, especially when intended for everyday day wear. L shaped orthotics are contoured to the calf and flesh colored, fitting into a dress shoe or sneaker. This makes corrective shoes more attractive than past models, allowing patients to wear these devices not only with greater comfort but with confidence as well.

Published in Featured