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December 2019

Monday, 30 December 2019 00:00

What Are Hammertoes?

Hammertoes are painful deformities that frequently form on the second, third, or fourth toe. The condition is often caused by an issue in foot mechanics. This can be caused by the person’s specific gait or the manner in which they walk, or by shoes that do not comfortably fit the deformity.  Hammertoes can be formed after wearing shoes that are too narrow or short for the foot or have excessively high heels. Shoes that are not properly sized will force the toes into a bent position for long periods of time. This can cause the muscles to shorten and toes to bend into the deformity of a hammertoe.

Hammertoe can also be caused by complications from rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, trauma to the foot, heredity, or a cerebral vascular accident. Pain and difficult mobility of the toes, deformities, calluses, and corns are all symptoms of a hammertoe.

Someone who suspects they have the symptoms of a hammertoe should consult with a physician—particularly a podiatrist. Podiatrists diagnose and treat complications of the foot and ankle. If the podiatrist discovers that the affected toes are still flexible, treatment for the hammertoe may simply involve exercise, physical therapy, and better-fitting shoes. Treatment for hammertoes typically involves controlling foot mechanics, such as walking, through the use of customized orthotics.

For more serious cases in which the toes have become inflexible and rigid, surgery may be suggested. During the operation, the toe would receive an incision to relieve pressure on the tendons. A re-alignment of the tendons may then be performed by removing small pieces of bone to straighten the toe. In some cases, the insertion of pins is needed to keep the bones in the proper position as the toe heals. The patient is usually allowed to return home on the same day as the surgery.

If surgery is performed to repair a hammertoe, following the postoperative directions of your doctor is essential. Directions may include several stretches, picking up marbles with your toes, or attempting to crumple a towel placed flat against your feet. Wear shoes that have low heels and a wide amount of toe space to maintain comfort. Closed-toe shoes and high heels should be avoided. Shoes with laces allow the wearer to adjust how fitted he or she may want the shoes to be and also allow for greater comfort. To provide adequate space for your toes, select shoes that have a minimum of one-half inch of space between the tip of your longest toe and the inside of the shoe. This will also relieve pressure on your toes and prevent future hammertoes from forming.

Other preventative measures that can be taken include going shopping for new shoes in the middle of the day. Your feet are its smallest in the morning and swell as the day progresses. Trying on and purchasing new shoes midday will give you the most reliable size. Be sure to check that the shoes you purchase are both the same size. If possible, ask the store to stretch out the shoes at its painful points to allow for optimum comfort.  

Monday, 23 December 2019 00:00

Athlete's Foot

Athlete’s foot is an extremely contagious infection caused by a fungus that results in itching, burning, dry, and flaking feet. The fungus that causes athlete’s foot is known as tinea pedis and thrives in moist, dark areas such as shower floors, gyms, socks and shoes, commons areas, public changing areas, bathrooms, dormitory style houses, locker rooms, and public swimming pools. Athlete’s foot is difficult to treat as well because of the highly contagious and recurrent nature of the fungus.

Tinea is the same fungus that causes ringworm, and is spread by direct contact with an infected body part, contaminated clothing, or by touching other objects and body parts that have been exposed to the fungus. Because the feet are an ideal place for tinea to grow and spread, this is the most commonly affected area.  It is, however, known to grow in other places. The term athlete’s foot describes tinea that grows strictly on the feet.

The most commonly infected body parts are the hands, groin, and scalp, as well as the feet. Around 70% of the population suffer from tinea infections at some point in their lives, however not all of these cases are athlete’s foot. Just like any other ailment, some people are more likely to get it than others, such as people with a history of tinea infections or other skin infections, both recurring and non-recurring ones. The extent to which a person experiences regrowth and recurrent tinea infections varies from person to person.

Sometimes people will not even know that they are infected with tinea or that they have athlete’s foot because of a lack of symptoms. However, most experience mild to moderate flaking, itching, redness, and burning. However, some of the more severe symptoms include cracking and bleeding skin, intense itching and burning, pain while walking or standing, and even blistering.

Because of the recurring nature of the tinea fungus and the athlete’s foot it causes, the best way to treat this condition is with prevention. You can take some preventative measures such as wearing flip flops or sandals in locker rooms and public showers to reduce contact with the floor. It also helps to keep clean, dry feet while allowing them to breathe. Using powders to keep your feet dry is a good idea, as well as keeping your feet exposed to light and cool air, to prevent the growth of tinea. If you do happen to get athlete’s foot, opt for using topical medicated creams, ointments or sprays. These treatments help eliminate and prevent it from coming back.

Monday, 16 December 2019 00:00

Preventing Running Injuries

Over half of all runners encounter at least one injury per year. The reason for this is because many runners do not train properly. Injuries are almost inevitable due to the physical stress that running causes. While our bodies are great at adapting to the stress, it can only handle it in small doses. Injuries occur when the stress is applied too quickly for the body to handle, causing something within it to break down. With each step you take, your leg is absorbing two or three times your body’s weight.

Some of the most popular running injuries are shin splints, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, and stress fractures. Shin splints cause pain along the inside or outside of the shins, and this pain is usually felt at the beginning of a run. The condition itself is defined as an inflammation of the muscles or tendons located around the shinbone. To treat shin splints, it is advised that you ice the shin area and stretch the calf muscles. To prevent this injury, you should slowly increase the distance you plan on running, instead of jumping into a more strenuous routine.

Achilles tendinitis is another common injury and it feels like pain along the back of the leg, toward the heel. This condition is defined as an inflammation of the Achilles which is the largest tendon in the body. The Achilles is responsible for connecting your calf muscles to the heel bone and it is caused by tight calf muscles. If you want to treat this injury, you should take a break from running to cross train with a low-impact activity.

There are a lot of common mistakes runners make that are causing them to experience injury. One mistake is stretching too much prior to warming up. If you plan to go on a run, you should warm up with a gentle 3-5-minute walk followed by a 5-minute run-walk.  Another common mistake is jumping into a routine too quickly. Consequently, you should incorporate cross-training into your routine. If you are looking to get active, you should slowly weave running into an activity you are currently participating in. For example, you can try bike riding for 40 minutes followed by a 10-minute run.

Another way to prevent running injuries is to choose shoes that are appropriate for running. There are certain things you should look for when buying a new pair of running shoes. An important factor in these sneakers is flexibility. Running shoes should be capable of bending and flexing at the forefoot. However, you should not be able to bend the entire shoe in half with ease because this is a sign that the shoe does not have enough structure. Additionally, you should look for the fit of the running shoes you want to purchase. It is best to visit a specialty running shoe store to have your feet properly sized. Choosing shoes that fit properly can prevent many foot ailments.

If you are suffering from any pain from running injuries, you should make an appointment with your podiatrist to discover the underlying cause of your pain. He or she will be able to help treat your condition in the best way possible.

Monday, 09 December 2019 00:00

Diabetic Foot Care

Diabetes can cause two problems that can potentially affect the feet: Diabetic neuropathy and Peripheral Vascular Disease. Diabetic neuropathy occurs when nerves in your legs and feet become damaged, which prevents you from feeling heat, cold, or pain. The problem with diabetic neuropathy is that a cut or sore on the foot may go unnoticed and the cut may eventually become infected. This condition is also a main cause of foot ulcers. Additionally, Peripheral vascular disease also affects blood flow in the body. Poor blood flow will cause sores and cuts to take longer to heal. Infections that don’t heal do to poor blood flow can potentially cause ulcers or gangrene.

There are certain foot problems that are more commonly found in people with diabetes such as Athlete’s foot, calluses, corns, blisters, bunions, foot ulcers, ingrown toenails, and plantar warts. These conditions can lead to infection and serious complications such as amputation. Fortunately, proper foot care can help prevent these foot problems before they progress into more serious complications.       

Each day you should wash your feet in warm water with a mild soap. When you finish washing your feet, dry them carefully especially between your toes. You should also perform daily foot inspections to ensure you don’t have any redness, blisters, or calluses. Furthermore, if you are diabetic, you should always wear closed-toed shoes or slippers to protect your feet. Practicing these tips will help ensure that your feet are kept healthy and away from infection.

If you have diabetes, contact your podiatrist if you have any of the following symptoms on your feet: changes in skin color, corns or calluses, open sores that are slow to heal, unusual and persistent odor, or changes in skin temperature. Your podiatrist will do a thorough examination of your feet to help treat these problematic conditions.

Monday, 02 December 2019 00:00

Hyperhidrosis of the Feet

Each foot, on average, has about 250,000 eccrine sweat glands that produce half a pint of sweat each day. Sweating is a natural and important bodily function. It regulates the body’s temperature by cooling the skin so that it does not overheat.  In individuals with hyperhidrosis, the sympathetic nervous system works in "overdrive", producing far more sweat than what is required. People with plantar hyperhidrosis experience an excess amount of sweat on their feet. It is estimated that 2% to 3% of all Americans suffer from some form of hyperhidrosis. This condition is often caused by neurologic, endocrine, infectious, and other systemic disease. Other factors that may trigger the condition are heat and emotions.

People with hyperhidrosis may notice an overabundance of sweat on their feet, along with a strong odor. The feet may also have a wet appearance coupled with infections such as athlete’s foot or toenail fungus. The sweat may even appear in low temperatures, such as during the winter months. People with plantar hyperhidrosis often need to change their socks several times throughout the day.

The specific cause of hyperhidrosis is unknown, and many believe it may be caused by over-activity. However, others believe the condition is genetic.  Caffeine and nicotine are known to cause excitement and nervousness which are two emotions that may make the condition worse.

If you are looking to treat your hyperhidrosis the most important thing you should do is wash your feet every day.  You may even need to wash your feet twice a day, if necessary.  You should also make sure you are wearing the right socks. Wool and cotton socks are both known to be good for ventilation, meaning they allow the feet to breathe. You should avoid socks made from nylon which trap moisture and lead to sogginess. Other common treatment options are over-the-counter antiperspirants that contain a low dose of metal salt.  In some cases, prescription strength antiperspirants that contain aluminum chloride hexahydrate may be necessary. In severe cases, surgery may be required.

Untreated hyperhidrosis can easily lead to complications.  Some complications that may arise from the disorder include nail infections, warts, and bacterial infections.  Consequently, it is important that you seek treatment from your podiatrist if you suspect that you may have plantar hyperhidrosis.

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