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Monday, 17 February 2020 00:00

Athlete’s foot is a type of fungal infection that affects the skin on the feet. It is caused when the tinea fungus grows on the foot. It is possible to catch the fungus through direct contact with someone who has it or by touching a surface that is contaminated with it. This type of fungus thrives in warm, moist environments such as showers, locker room floors, and swimming pools. Your risk of getting it may also increase by wearing tight-fitting, closed-toe shoes, or by having sweaty feet.

Symptoms of athlete’s foot include itching, stinging or burning sensations between the toes. You may also experience toenails that are discolored, thick, crumbly, or toenails that pull away from the nail bed.

Your podiatrist may diagnose athlete’s foot by detecting these symptoms or by doing a skin test to see if there is a fungal infection present. The most common exam used to detect Athlete’s foot is a skin lesion potassium hydroxide exam. To use this method, your doctor will scrape off a small area of the infected skin and place it into potassium hydroxide. The potassium hydroxide will destroy the normal cells and leave the fungal cells untouched so that they are visible under a microscope.

There are a variety of treatment options for athlete’s foot. Some medications are miconazole (Desenex), terbinafine (Lamisil AT), clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF), butenafine (Lotrimin Ultra), and tolnaftate (Tinactin). While these options may be able to treat your fungus, it is best that you consult with a podiatrist in order to see which treatment option may work best for you.

In some cases, Athlete’s foot may lead to complications. A severe complication would be a secondary bacterial infection which may cause your foot to become swollen, painful, and hot.

There are ways that you can prevent athlete’s foot. Washing your feet with soap and water each day and drying them thoroughly is an effective way to prevent infections. You also shouldn’t share socks, shoes, or towels with other people. It is crucial that you wear shower sandals in public showers, around swimming pools, and in other public places. Additionally, you should make sure you wear shoes that can breathe and change your socks when your feet become sweaty. If you suspect that you have Athlete’s foot, you should seek help from a podiatrist as soon as possible.

Monday, 10 February 2020 00:00

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a condition in which the tibial nerve, located in the tarsal tunnel in the foot, is compressed. The tibial nerve can become compressed from injury, such as an ankle sprain, flat feet, and lesions. Arthritis, diabetes, and varicose veins can also cause swelling and thus result in nerve compression.

Symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome include several different sensations in the sole of the foot, inside the ankle, and around the tibial nerve. These sensations include shooting pains, numbness or reduced sensation, pins and needles, burning, and tingling. Symptoms tend to worsen with greater activity to the area. In rare and severe occasions, this can change the muscles in the foot.

If you suspect you have tarsal tunnel syndrome, you should consult with your podiatrist. He or she will examine your medical history to see if you have a history of diabetes, arthritis, or flat feet. They will also check to see if you have suffered an injury to the area recently. An electrical test will be conducted to check if the nerve has been damaged. A simpler Tinel’s Test might also be used. This includes simply tapping the nerve to create a sensation. An MRI scan of the area may also be used.

Treatments vary greatly for tarsal tunnel syndrome. Treatments include both nonsurgical and surgical options depending upon the severity of the condition. Nonsurgical options include anti-inflammatory medication and steroid injections to the area. Orthotics, such as a splint or brace that immobilizes the foot, is another noninvasive option. For those with flat feet, custom shoes can be made to offer better foot support. Surgical options include a tunnel tarsal release, in which an incision is made behind the ankle down to the arch of the foot. This releases the ligament and relieves pressure off the nerve. Some doctors use a more minimally invasive surgery, where smaller incisions are made in the ankle and the ligament is stretched out.

If you are suffering from painful sensations in your foot, see a podiatrist who can determine if you are experiencing tarsal tunnel syndrome. Tarsal tunnel syndrome that is left unchecked can cause permanent nerve damage to the foot.

Monday, 03 February 2020 00:00

Platelet rich plasma, or PRP, is blood taken from a patient and spun in a centrifuge, concentrating the amount of platelets and growth factors. This plasma, containing a very high concentration of platelets, is re-injected into the site of injury or damage, inducing the body to repair damage to muscle, tendons, ligaments, and soft tissue. Although the body does this naturally when an injury occurs, the PRP helps speed the healing process.

Many injuries to the foot, especially those affecting tendons, do not heal well because poor blood supply to the area prevents healing platelets and growth factors carried by the blood from getting to the injury site. Platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections can help fix this problem and speed recovery.

This is the first regenerative treatment ever for damaged muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It avoids the need for surgery, and as it requires only the insertion of a needle, is minimally invasive. The injection of PRP is done with the use of ultrasound to ensure the proper placement of the platelets.

Once the first injection is received, the patient will return to the doctor's approximately 2 to 3 weeks later to be checked on how well the treatment is moving along. As with most treatments, each patient's response is different. Based on a patient's condition, the doctor will make the decision about how many more injections will be needed. Acute and chronic injuries will typically require more injections than mild ones.

Common injuries of the feet such as ankle sprains, Achilles tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis, as well as acute and chronic tendon and joint diseases like arthritis, can all be treated with PRP injections. For many, this therapy has lead to greatly reduced pain and increased function of the foot. Combining exercise or physical therapy with the PRP injections will help increase the success of the treatment.

This treatment, being minimally invasive, means that surgery can be avoided, in many cases, and recovery time cut down. Other benefits of PRP injections are a decrease in scar tissue and fibrosis to the damaged area, as well as increased range of motion, flexibility, and strength. The risks from using PRP injections as a treatment is very low. As the patient is injected with his own blood, there is no risk of rejection or of getting a disease from using another person's blood. As with any injection into the body, there is a risk of infection, but this is very rare. Research is showing that PRP may have an anti-bacterial property that would further decrease the risk of infection.

Monday, 27 January 2020 00:00

Debilitating foot pain is a problem for many people. But just as stretching the torso can help alleviate back pain, stretching the feet can also help mend existing foot problems and prevent future ones.

The feet, as the body’s foundation, carry the body’s entire weight and can get easily strained from overexertion. Persistent sharp pain and cramping in the feet are often common concerns. Foot pain and foot problems can be due to any number of causes, and in many cases pain may be eased without medication or doctor visits. It is always a good idea, however, to first rule out any serious medical issues with a physician.

Stretching can help relax the feet and alleviate pain, but is especially important before heavy aerobic exercise. Stretching before such activities can help you avoid experiencing painful cramps or strained foot muscles. Stretches should be performed slowly and deliberately without forceful pulling. The stretch should be held for several seconds before relaxing.

A great way to stretch out and loosen up the foot muscles while sitting is to cross one leg over the other and pull the toes carefully back without overextending. Start by resting the left ankle on the right knee. With the left hand, gently flex the left foot by pulling back on the toes. Do not pull too hard; just hard enough to feel the stretch in the arch of the foot. Then point the toes of the left foot as far as you can. Rotate the motion of pointing with pulling back on the toes. This should relax and stretch the muscles on the bottom and the top of the foot. Doing this stretch ten to twenty times should bring relief. Repeat the whole process for the other foot by resting the right ankle on the left knee.

A stretch that focuses on the often injured Achilles tendon involves standing and facing a wall with your arms out and hands flat against the wall. Step back with one foot, keeping it flat against the floor. Move the other leg forward and lean toward the wall. You should feel a stretch through the back of your leg and your Achilles tendon, but do not push yourself too much. Stop when you feel a stretching sensation, and hold for 30 seconds. Ten repetitions may be done for each foot.

Stretching the feet is important for athletes or those performing aerobic exercise, but it can also help anyone with foot pain caused by poor footwear, plantar fasciitis, or long hours standing and walking. Individuals who tend to their feet by regularly stretching every day should be able to minimize foot pain and prevent new problems from arising.

Monday, 20 January 2020 00:00

Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) is an alternative treatment method that is used for bone and soft tissue disorders in the foot and ankle. EWST is a noninvasive option for pain relief and it was originally created to help dissolve kidney stones. This therapy works by focusing impulses to target the area in pain. This method has been proven to show a reduction in the amount of nerve fibers that transmit painful impulses, which leads to a reduction in pain. Shockwave therapy can also expedite the tissue which would, in turn, increase the amount of new blood vessels that are formed.

Conditions that can be treated with shockwave therapy include Achilles pain and heel pain. People with plantar fasciitis may opt for this therapy and the results are usually great after 18 months. Additionally, this method can also be used to treat fractures that have failed to heal correctly. Anesthesia is not required to perform this treatment. It usually is not painful, but it can be uncomfortable.

The duration of treatment sessions usually lasts 5-15 minutes each. This procedure is safe since there is no risk of infection from wound complications, if you are looking to try shockwave therapy to heal plantar fasciitis, it may take 3-4 sessions to start working. After treatment, patients typically notice a dull pain in the area which was treated. However, this pain rarely lasts more than 24 hours.

Nevertheless, there are pros and cons that come along with Shockwave Therapy. The most obvious pro is that this treatment is noninvasive, meaning surgery will not be required. Another upside is that there have been very little complications that have been found with this procedure. On the other hand, those who opt for surgery are at risk for continued pain, wound problems, and infections. The biggest con for ESWT is that it is very expensive; it typically costs around $1,000 before insurance. Another con is that the effectiveness of the treatment is questionable. Usually, if this treatment is helpful, the difference is small.

If you are curious about Shockwave Therapy, you should talk to your podiatrist to see if this treatment method is right for you. At times, patients will find that there are other treatment options that are more efficient for their individual cases.

Monday, 13 January 2020 00:00

The forefoot is composed of five metatarsal bones and fourteen phalanges. Each toe has three phalanges except for the big toe which only has two. Our toes play an essential role to the walking process, which is why a broken toe could seriously disrupt one’s ability to move around. Toe fractures are common and can be very painful. Fortunately, these injuries rarely require surgery and usually heal with rest and a change in activity.

Broken toes typically result from a traumatic event such as falling, stubbing the toe, or dropping something on the toe. Traumatic toe fractures may be categorized as either minor or severe fractures. At times, one may hear a “pop” or “crack” sound when the bone breaks. Common symptoms of a traumatic toe fracture include pain, throbbing, bruising, swelling, and redness.

Another type of toe fractures is a stress fracture. These injuries usually appear in the form of small hairline breaks on the bone. Stress fractures develop after repetitive activity instead of a single injury. Stress fractures occur when the muscles in the bone become too weak to absorb impact. Consequently, the toe bone becomes vulnerable to any pressure and impact it endures. Symptoms for a stress fracture in the toe include swelling without bruising, tenderness to the touch, pain that goes away with rest, and pain after walking or running.

If you suspect that you have a broken toe, you should make an appointment with your podiatrist. He or she will likely diagnose you by performing a physical exam and an X-ray. Treatment for a broken toe may include the R.I.C.E. method, buddy taping, surgery, or antibiotics. The R.I.C.E. method (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) is a common treatment method for many injuries because it decreases pain. Buddy tapping involves wrapping the injured toe next to an adjacent toe to keep it supported and protected. These two methods have proven to be effective in the healing process for toe fractures. The estimated healing time for a broken toe is approximately four to six weeks. If the injury becomes infected or requires surgery, the estimated healing time may take eight weeks or more. 

Monday, 06 January 2020 00:00

Choosing the right running shoes for you is an important part of running. A good pair of running shoes will make the running experience more enjoyable for you and prevent potential injury.

Poorly-fitted shoes can increase the risk of injury in runners substantially. Common injuries from running with poor quality shoes include shin splints, sprained ankles, Achilles tendinitis, stress fractures, plantar fasciitis and more. This is due to the fact that bad shoes do not provide proper foot support, can increase pronation (how much the foot rolls when hitting the ground), have little to no cushioning, do not allow the feet to breath, and do not provide enough flex and rigidity in the right parts.

When looking for running shoes, first, determine where you will be running. If you are a trail runner, then pick trail shoes. If you run on concrete and asphalt, then regular running shoes are the best choice. When trying on shoes, its best to go at the end of the day as feet grow during the day and shrink after a night of sleep. Shoes should be more rigid towards the back of the foot while being more flexible up where the toes are. The toe box should provide enough room for the toes to move freely. The overall fit should be snug, not too tight but not too loose. A good pair of running shoes should also provide enough arch support for your foot type. If you experience overpronation or under-pronation while running, try to find a pair of shoes that will help correct this with different sole patterns.  Finally, try to find a pair of shoes that allow the feet to breathe like nylon mesh or synthetic leather.

Don’t forget about the socks either. Socks that hold too much moisture can lead to athlete’s foot. Socks should be breathable so that your feet can air out and breathe. Synthetic socks wick away moisture like sweat. If you tend to run a lot, having a second pair of shoes that you can wear while you let the first pair air out is smart. Just don’t forget to replace your shoes after about every 300 to 500 miles.

Before you start running, it is advised to see a podiatrist to see if running is right for you. They can also offer good advice on how to run and what to look for in a pair of running shoes. If you have flat feet or poorly supported ones, they can also offer custom-made orthotics that will help give your feet the support they need.

Monday, 30 December 2019 00:00

Bunions are large bony bumps at the base of the big toe. Medically known as hallux valgus, a bunion is a misalignment of the metatarsophalangeal joint, or big toe joint. The misalignment will generally worsen with time if left untreated.

The exact cause of bunions is unknown, with genetics seen as a potential cause. High heels and poorly-fitted footwear, rheumatoid arthritis, and heredity all seem to be potential factors behind the exacerbation of bunions. Women have been found to be more likely to develop bunions in comparison to men.

Bunions do not always produce symptoms. The best way to tell is if the big toe is pushing up against the next toe and there is a large protrusion at the base of the big toe. You may or may not feel pain. Redness, swelling, and restricted movement of the big toe may be present as well.

Podiatrists use a variety of methods to diagnose bunions. If there are symptoms present, podiatrists will first consider that it is a bunion. If not, a physical examination will be conducted to check function of the big toe. Finally, an X-ray may be taken to view the extent of the bunion and confirm it is a bunion.

Typically, nonsurgical methods are used to treat bunions, unless the bunion has become too misaligned. Orthotics, icing and resting the foot, roomier and better fitted shoes, taping the foot, and pain medication are usually utilized first. If the bunion doesn’t go away or causes extreme pain, surgery may be required. Surgeons will either remove part of the swollen tissue or bone to straighten the toe out.

If you have a bunion, it is recommended to see a podiatrist. The longer it is left untreated, the worse it may get. Podiatrists can properly diagnose and treat a bunion before it gets worse.

Monday, 23 December 2019 00:00

Fungal infection of the toenail, or onychomycosis, typically appears as a gradual change in a toenail’s texture and color that involves brittleness and darkening.  The fungal infection itself occurs beneath the surface of the nail.  Aside from discoloration, other symptoms include the collection of debris beneath the nail plate, white marks on the nail plate, and a foul odor emanating from the nail.  If ignored, the infection can spread into other nails and the skin; in severe cases, it can hinder one’s ability to work or walk. 

The toenails are particularly vulnerable to contracting infection in moist environments where people are likely to be walking barefoot, such as around swimming pools, public showers, and locker rooms.  Fungal infection may also be more likely to occur in nail beds that have been injured, and sufferers of chronic diseases such as diabetes, circulatory problems, or immunodeficiency conditions are particularly prone to developing fungal nails. 

Fungal nails can be primarily prevented by practicing proper hygiene and regularly examining the feet and toes.  Carefully washing the feet with soap and water and thoroughly drying the feet afterwards are essential.  Other tips include wearing shower shoes in public areas, changing shoes and socks daily, keeping toenails clipped at a short length, wearing breathable shoes that fit properly, wearing moisture-wicking socks, and disinfecting home pedicure tools and instruments used to cut nails.

Fungal nail treatment may vary between patients and the severity of the condition.  Your podiatrist may suggest a daily routine of cleansing that spans over a period of time to ease mild infections.  Over-the-counter or prescription antifungal agents may also be prescribed, including topical and/or oral medications.  Debridement, or the removal of diseased nail matter and debris, may also be performed.  In more severe cases, surgical treatment may be needed.  In some instances, the temporary removal of the fungal nail allows for the direct application of a topical antifungal to the nail bed.  In other cases, a chronically painful fungal nail that has not responded to other treatments may be permanently removed; this allows the infection to be cured and avoids the growth of a deformed nail.  

Monday, 16 December 2019 00:00

Our bones are important aspects of our body and they are constantly changing. The heavier the workload for a bone, the more likely it is that calcium will be placed in it. When a bone isn’t used often, there won’t be much calcium within it. When stress from repetitive loads prevent the bone from being able to repair itself, cracks will start to form. Stress fractures are defined as cracks in a bone that result from repetitive force, such as overuse.

The most common cause of stress fractures is a sudden increase in intensity and duration of physical activity. For example, if you begin to run long distances without working your way into doing so, you will be more likely to develop a stress fracture.

Common symptoms of stress fractures are pain and swelling near the weight bearing area on the injured bone. When initial x-rays are performed, it is possible that the fracture will not show up. However, once the stress on the area continues, the damage will increase, and the fracture will be severe enough to show up on an x-ray. Certain parts of the foot are more likely to develop stress fractures than others. Areas that typically have these fractures are: the metatarsals, the navicular bone, the calcaneus, tibia, and fibula.

Since women are at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis, they are twice as likely as men to sustain a stress fracture. Additionally, old age causes a decrease in bone mineral density which is why elderly people are also likely to develop these fractures.

It is important for you to be professionally diagnosed by a podiatrist if you suspect you have a stress fracture, because there are other injuries that can easily be mistaken for a fracture.  Sprains, strains, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and Morton’s neuroma can all easily be mistaken for stress fractures in the foot. Your podiatrist will likely ask you a series of questions to determine what type of pain you are experiencing. These questions will help your doctor identify whether you have a stress fracture.

The best method of treatment for a stress fracture is rest. Additionally, a walking boot, cast, or crutches, will help rest the area that is injured. The typical healing time for stress fractures is 4-12 weeks, however this depends on which bone is involved.

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