While you might not think about it, your feet certainly do a lot for you day in and day out: They help lug your tired body up those flights of stairs to get to your apartment after a long day of work. They pound the pavement (or the treadmill) for those regular stress-relieving sweat sessions. They suffer through endless hours of dancing in high heels for a night on the town with your friends. When you think about your feet in this light, they are pretty amazing.
However, just like everything else, our feet also change over time. What your feet needed when you were an athletic teenager will be different than the thirty-something professional wearing dress shoes or an older adult who is enjoying some post-retirement travel. It’s important that our feet get the unique care they need as you get older. After all, you may be at an increased risk for developing these common foot problems:
- Bunions and hammertoes
- Corns and calluses
- Ingrown toenails
- Fungal infections
- Plantar fasciitis (one of the most common causes of heel pain)
Your feet will change as you get older. They may get larger and even require a completely different shoe size. You’ll lose density in the fatty pads of the feet. Skin also loses its elasticity and becomes thinner, so it may be more prone to infection or injuries.
Of course, if you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, arthritis, nerve damage or obesity, these chronic health problems can also increase your chances of developing foot-related complications. If you’ve been diagnosed with any of these health problems it’s important that you have a podiatrist you can turn to at the first sign of an issue. It’s important that you inspect your feet every day to look for any changes or symptoms such as redness, swelling, cuts or open wounds that may require immediate care.
You’ll also want to take into account the importance of wearing the right footwear. While this is something everyone should do, as you get older your feet lose a lot of their natural cushioning and, as a result, require additional support from their shoes. It’s important that the shoes you wear provide you with the ample support and cushioning you need.
Toenail fungal infections are also more common as you get older. While this infection may not seem like a big deal, leaving this infection untreated could cause it to spread to other areas of the foot. Plus, it leaves toenails brittle, yellow and unsightly. If you are having trouble treating a toenail fungus on your own, or if you deal with persistent fungal infections, this is also a time to turn to a foot doctor for care.
Osteochondritis isn’t a condition that most people have heard of and probably won’t unless their podiatrist diagnoses them with it. Osteochondritis is characterized by lesions that develop as a result of injury or death to the bone that lies under the cartilage of a joint. It’s common for the ankle joint to be affected by osteochondritis.
This condition is most often seen in children and teens, especially if they are athletes or participate in high-impact activities. Osteochondritis symptoms may appear immediately after the joint injury or may surface months afterward.
Common symptoms of osteochondritis in the ankle joint include:
- Pain and stiffness
- Tenderness and swelling around the ankle
- A popping or clicking sound in the joint
- Ankle instability (feeling
- as if the ankle might give out)
- Loss of joint flexibility and range-of-motion
If you or your little one is dealing with ankle joint pain or any of these other symptoms, particularly after an injury, it is important that you see a podiatrist who will be able to diagnose and treat the condition as soon as possible.
When you come in for care, a podiatrist will perform a physical exam and ask you questions about the symptoms you are experiencing. During your physical exam your doctor may ask you to move the ankle around in order to check your range of motion.
In some cases, imaging tests such as X-rays or MRIs are needed to check the extent of the damage and to provide more comprehensive images of the tissue, joints, bone, and cartilage of the ankle. Remember, these symptoms can also be indicative of other problems, and these imaging tests can rule out other issues and provide a definite diagnosis.
The main goal of osteochondritis treatment is to reduce pain and other symptoms while also improving how the ankle joint functions. Since those with osteochondritis are also at an increased risk for developing osteoarthritis later on, we will also recommend specific ways to reduce this risk.
In most cases, resting and avoiding activities that could exacerbate your condition is imperative to healing. If the damage is serious enough, a foot doctor may recommend wearing a cast or brace for a few weeks to provide additional support and protection for the affected ankle joint.
Physical therapy may also be prescribed to improve the health of the joint while also strengthening the muscles, ligaments, cartilage and other soft tissues surrounding the joint. These stretching and strengthening exercises will improve range of motion and flexibility in the joint and gradually restore function.
If you suspect that you or your child’s symptoms are due to osteochondritis, it is important that you schedule an evaluation with a foot care expert as soon as possible.
Did you sprain your ankle? Ankle sprains are common injuries, often causes when the ankle is forced to bend more than normal. Ankle sprains are often very painful and incapacitating. If properly treated, your ankle sprain will heal well, allowing safe return to activity. Family Foot and Ankle Center in Reston/Herndon, Ashburn/Leesburg, Fairfax/Burke and McLean/Great Falls, VA, offers treatments for ankle sprains. Here's how to treat ankle sprains.
1. Rest your ankle.
All ankle sprains require a period of rest. The length of time will depend on your grade of sprain. Your foot doctor can help you with a timeline. Resting your ankle will allow the healing process to begin. Stay off your feet most of the time and gently exercise your ankle regularly to avoid stiffness. Avoid strenuous activites, such as jumping and running, until you can walk without it causing any pain.
2. Elevate your ankle.
Keeping your ankle raised above the level of your chest for several days after injury. Elevation is important after an ankle injury as it helps to reduce the amount of blood flow to the injured area. This helps to reduce the bruising, discomfort, and inflammation. Use some pillows to keep the area raised. Keep your foot elevated for a couple of hours per day until your ankle stops swelling.
3. Ice your ankle.
Ice treatment can help reduce swelling and pain. To make an ice pack, fill a plastic bag with ice. Put an ice pack on your injured ankle for 10 minutes every 2 hours. Wrap an elastic bandage around the ice pack to hold it in place. Don't ice your ankle more than 20 minutes at a time to avoid frostbite. If you have diabetes or circulation issues, talk to your doctor before applying ice.
4. Compress your ankle.
Apply a firm compression bandage from the toes to above the ankle. Wrapping your ankle may be the best way to avoid swelling and bruising. Wrap the compression bandage around your ankle and foot, and secure it with medical tape. Make sure the bandage does not make your pain worse or restrict blood flow to your toes. Do combine rest and elevation with compression whenever possible.
5. Take a pain reliever.
If you have severe pain, a narcotic pain reliever will make you feel better. An over-the-counter pain reliever may also help reduce your pain and inflammation. Most doctors recommend anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or ketoprofen. You can also take acetaminophen for pain, although this medicine does not reduce swelling. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
6. See a podiatrist in Reston/Herndon, Ashburn/Leesburg, Fairfax/Burke and McLean/Great Falls.
If you have an ankle sprain, see a podiatrist for a full evaluation. Podiatrists can diagnose and treat ankle sprains. Your podiatrist may order x-rays to determine if you have a broken bone in your ankle. You may receive an ankle brace to keep your ankle from moving and allow ligaments to heal. Your podiatrist will also give you medications to reduce discomfort and swelling. Once you can bear weight without increased pain, strengthening exercises will be added to your treatment plan.
Say hello to healthy and happy feet! If you have an ankle sprain, we can help you today! Call Family Foot and Ankle Center at 703-723-9267 today to schedule an appointment in Ashburn/Leesburg, VA. Call 703-273-9818 to schedule an appointment in Fairfax/Burke, VA. Call 703-556-8637 to schedule an appointment in McLean/ Great Falls, VA. Call 703-723-2719 to schedule an appointment in Reston/Herndon, VA. You will be cared for by one of the finest podiatrists in Virginia!
Anyone who has experienced shin splints can tell you just how painful this seemingly innocuous condition can be. If you are a runner, chances are pretty good that you’ve experienced this issue before. Shin splints are fairly common for athletes and runners and can be so painful that it can affect your daily routine and keep you from your favorite activities.
Why do shin splints happen?
If you are new to running then you may be prone to developing shin splints in the very beginning. This could happen for several reasons:
- You might be taking on a bit more than you can chew when it comes to the intensity or duration of your new exercise routine
- You could have tight calf muscles
- Your shin muscles might actually be weak
- You may have a biomechanical imbalance in your feet (e.g. pronating when you run)
How do you prevent shin splints?
The goal is to protect runners and other athletes from developing shin splints altogether; fortunately, there are a variety of tips that any podiatrist can provide you with to make sure your exercise routine doesn’t leave you icing those aching shins.
Here are some ways to prevent shins splints.
Slow and Steady
While we would all love to suddenly be able to go out there and increase our mileage or intensity of our workouts you can’t expect to go from zero to 60 in a short span of time. Your muscles need time to strengthen. If you drastically increase the intensity or length of your workout then you may leave yourself prone to developing shin splints.
Avoid Hard Surfaces
While pounding the pavement may be your daily routine, if you can avoid this hard surface that will certainly reduce your chances of shin splints. Running already puts stress on the bones, joints, muscles, and ligaments in your legs, so imagine how much more stress occurs when running on asphalt or other hard surfaces? Whenever possible, choose grassy softer terrains and trails.
Choose the Right Shoes
If you’ve had your shoes for more than 300-400 miles then it’s time to kiss them goodbye and get new ones. Running shoes don’t last forever and as the cushioning and support wear out, you are more likely to develop shin splints. Turn to a specialty running store to help you choose the right shoes for your active feet.
Give it a Rest
Your body needs time to recover, no matter how much of an experienced runner you might be. If you are just starting out, it’s important to give your body ample time to recoup. This means trying to limit your running so you aren’t doing so twice in a row. If you are an avid runner you’ll still want to take one or two days off a week to let your body recover.
If shin splints are plaguing you or if you are dealing with foot and ankle problems it’s important that you have a podiatrist by your side to provide you with the treatment you need whenever you need it.
A bone bruise is a common foot injury that can happen to people of all ages. A bone bruise is an injury that isn’t as serious as a bone fracture but can still cause pain and other issues. Even though you can develop a bone bruise anywhere on your body it’s fairly common for a bone bruise to develop on your feet where bones are closer to the surface of the skin and often more prone to injury.
When you think of the word bruise maybe you often think about injuries to the skin, but this doesn’t mean that bones can’t also sustain a similar injury. You may find yourself particularly susceptible to bone bruises if you are an athlete, if you aren’t wearing the proper protective gear for your sport or if your job requires you to be on your feet most of the day.
Besides the standard bruise that will appear near the bone there are other symptoms that you may also experience including:
- Joint stiffness or limited mobility
- Pain or tenderness near the bruise
Depending on the extent of the bone bruise, your symptoms can last as little as a couple of days or as long as a few months. If you notice that swelling hasn’t gone away or has gotten worse, or if the pain isn’t being properly managed with over-the-counter pain medications, then it’s time to visit a foot doctor who can determine whether you are dealing with a bone bruise or if these symptoms are due to a more serious injury.
If you have a minor bone bruise this injury can often be managed with simple at-home solutions such as taking OTC anti-inflammatory medications to reduce pain and swelling, as well as icing the injury and resting the foot as much as possible. While the bone heals it’s important that you don’t participate in any physical activities that could exacerbate the injury.
To keep swelling down it’s important to elevate the leg as much as possible throughout the day. If you have a more severe bone bruise that has also affected a joint, a podiatrist may recommend wearing a brace or splint to help support and stabilize the joint until the bruise has fully healed. In some cases, you may even benefit from physical therapy and daily stretching and strengthening exercises.
If you are dealing with foot pain and other symptoms that don’t seem to go away with at-home care then it’s important that you turn to a podiatrist you can trust. Whether you think you are dealing with a bone bruise or a potential fracture, let us help you figure out the cause of your symptoms and create a treatment plan that will have you back on your feet.
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