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Posts for category: Foot Care

By Family Foot and Ankle Center
February 03, 2016
Category: Foot Care
Tags: Hallux Valgus   Bunion  

Hallux ValgusHallux valgus may sound like a complicated, rare disease or a spell from the Harry Potter universe, but it's actually another name for bunions, a common foot disorder.

If your podiatrist has diagnosed you with hallux valgus, you may be a little taken aback. Don't worry,­ that's just a long name for a common foot disorder­ also known as a bunion. The hallux is better known as your big toe, and "valgus" means bent or twisted. These two words together describe exactly what a bunion is­ your big toe bent toward your other toes. Moving on to your next possible concerns: why does this problem exist and how can it be treated or prevented?

Hallux Valgus 101

Bunions form due to pressure on the two joints of the big toe. This toe becomes angled unnaturally inward and the bunion is the resulting deformity of the bone. Contrary to popular belief, they are not tumors or cysts. Bunions can present with pain, swelling, and increasingly limited range of motion.

Causes

Experts are divided on the cause of bunions: some believe that they are genetic, while others place the blame on years of wearing shoes that crowd the toes. In either case, shoes are thought to worsen hallux valgus deformities over time if they put pressure on the toes or contort the feet into abnormal positions. Since women's footwear is generally more narrow and confining than men's, bunions occur more often in them. While arthritis does not necessarily cause bunions, the joint inflammation can worsen them.

Treatment

Your podiatrist will likely recommend non­surgical options first. You should ensure that your shoes are comfortable and fit properly. Specialty shoe store employees can take measurements of your foot and recommend the best size. Shoe inserts or arch supports can be used to redistribute your weight and relax the muscles. For pain, over­the­counter analgesics like ibuprofen or naproxen are recommended.

If you continue you to have problems, surgery to remove some of the bone or surrounding tissue to straighten the foot back into position. A change in the shape of your foot or the way your shoes fit warrants a call to your podiatrist for evaluation.

By Family Foot and Ankle Center
January 15, 2016
Category: Foot Care

Rheumatoid ArthritisFind out how to manage chronic arthritic symptoms to keep you on your toes!

Rheumatoid arthritis affects about 1 percent of the population, mostly affecting women between the ages of 40 to 60. If you’ve been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis then you probably are looking for answers regarding your condition and what you can do to improve the health of your feet.

What is rheumatoid arthritis?

This chronic, autoimmune disorder targets joints anywhere on the body, but mostly the hands and feet. Approximately 90 percent of patients diagnosed with this form of arthritis will develop foot or ankle symptoms at some point during the course of their disease.

What are the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis?

Since this is an autoimmune disorder, the immune system actually attacks your body’s own tissue, causing inflammation and swelling of the joints. Those with rheumatoid arthritis also experience pain and stiffness in the feet and hands. While other forms of arthritis (e.g. osteoarthritis) only affect one joint, rheumatoid arthritis usually affects the exact same joints in both feet.

Different deformities (e.g. bunions; claw toes) and other problems may also develop, depending on what foot joint the rheumatoid arthritis inflicts.

What are the treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis?

While there is currently no cure for rheumatoid arthritis there are a variety of treatment options available to our patients to help reduce their symptoms and keep them living full, active lives. Certain medications can be prescribed to stop the immune system from attacking the joints.

Here are the most common types of orthopedic treatment options we recommend; however, remember that these treatments will not slow down or stop how the disease progresses, but it will help you to manage your symptoms:

Rest: This means reducing any movements or actions that make your rheumatoid arthritis pain worse. If you are naturally an active person, you may want to opt for low­impact activities like swimming, which takes pressure and impact off the joints in the foot.

Anti­inflammatories: Certain over­the­counter anti­inflammatories like ibuprofen can help reduce rheumatoid arthritis pain and inflammation. However, if your symptoms are severe then it might be time to talk to your podiatrist about prescribed pain relievers.

Icing: Apply an ice pack to the swollen, stiff joints for about 20 minutes at a time, three to four times a day. Icing can be particularly effective after you have finished any kind of physical activity.

Orthotics: If you experience a lot of issues walking or find that certain parts of your feet ache, then it might not be a bad idea to talk to your podiatrist about customized shoe inserts that can help correct foot deformities and take pressure off certain areas of your feet.

If there is severe joint damage, your podiatrist may recommend surgery to repair the issue. There are different types of foot surgeries to accommodate different rheumatoid arthritis issues and your podiatrist would be happy to sit down and discuss your surgical options.

If you have any questions about rheumatoid arthritis, call your podiatrist today!

By Family Foot and Ankle Center
December 31, 2015
Category: Foot Care
Tags: Ingrown Toenails  

Toenails look fairly harmless, but they can cause extreme pain if they become ingrown. Ingrown nails can be so painful that it's difficult to wear shoes or walk comfortably. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to prevent them. Family Foot and Ankle Center, your podiatrists in Reston, Fairfax, Ashburn and Mclean, share some important information on ingrown toenail prevention.

What are ingrown toenails?

Ingrown toenails occur when the edge of a nail grows into the skin surrounding it. They often occur on big toes, but can happen on any of your toenails. If the nail continues to grow into the skin, pain, redness and infection can occur.

What causes the problem?

Ingrown toenails can occur due to the following reasons:

  • Wearing shoes that are too tight
  • Cutting toenails too short or not cutting them in a straight line
  • Nail injuries
  • Fungal infections that thicken toenails
  • A family history of ingrown toenails (Curved toenails tend to run in some families.)

How can I prevent ingrown toenails?

Clipping toenails in a straight line is the most important step you can take to prevent ingrown toenail pain. When you round the corners of the nails, it's much easier for them to grow into your skin. It's also important to wear comfortable shoes, treat toenail fungus as soon as you notice it, and examine your feet every day for signs of ingrown nails. If you find any problems, call your Reston, Fairfax, Ashburn and Mclean podiatrists right away!

What do I do if I have an ingrown toenail?

Ingrown toenails can be treated at home in the early stages. If you notice that your toenail has started to grow into your skin, use a nail file to gently pry the nail free. Soak your foot in warm water for 15 minutes to reduce swelling, then place a small piece of cotton under the nail. The cotton will prevent the nail from growing into the skin again.

It's also a good idea to apply an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection. See a foot doctor if the nail is too deeply embedded and you can't remove the edge yourself or you have severe pain or signs of an infection.

Do you have an ingrown toenail or any other foot ailment? Call the Reston, Fairfax, Ashburn and Mclean Podiatrists at Family Foot and Ankle Center at (703) 723-2719 and schedule an appointment today. Don't let an ingrown toenail keep you off your feet!

By Family Foot and Ankle Center
December 30, 2015
Category: Foot Care

Fashion-Forward ShoesSome people are unfortunately more concerned with the way that their shoes look than what’s happening to their feet due to wearing those shoes on a daily basis. Some “fashion­forward” shoes, as nice as they may look on the outside, can actually be fungus traps, leaving the feet susceptible to the effects of foot and toenail funguses. Talk to a podiatrist about foot fungus and how your shoes can be creating the ideal environment for fungi to live on your feet.

What Is Foot Fungus?

A fungus is an organism that feeds and thrives on other organic matter. When it’s not controlled, it can lead to infections in parts of the body, like the feet. There are two types of fungal infections that commonly attack the feet:

  • Athlete’s Foot
  • Toenail Fungus

In both cases, overgrowth of fungus causes redness, itching, burning sensation and peeling of the skin. Toenail fungus also causes the nail to thicken, become yellow and flake. A strong, unattractive odor is also commonly associated with foot fungus infections.

Those Fashion­Forward Shoes...

The problem with many fashion­forward shoes is that they’re not designed to help your feet—they’re designed only to look a certain way for style. Some shoes don’t allow any room for your feet to breathe. Foot fungus thrives in warm, moist environments, so shoes that are enclosed or made of very restrictive materials (like plastic or pleather) often foster fungal infections. Fashionable women’s shoes often have pointy toes and very high heels (as high as six inches), causing the toes to push up against the front unnaturally. That pressure, combined with sweat, can also cause toenail fungus to develop.

Making Better Shoe Choices

If you are concerned about or have had past problems with foot fungus, it could be due to the choices you’re making in shoes. Here are a few tips for buying better shoes:

  • Whenever possible, wear shoes that have an open toe to allow the toenails to remain dry and cool
  • Pick shoes made of breathable fabric (like leather) and soles (ask your doctor about orthotic inserts that best manage moisture)
  • Do not share your shoes with other people who may have fungus problems
  • Ask your podiatrist about SteriShoe, an ultraviolet light that can kill fungus and bacteria that can form inside of your shoes

Your foot health should always trump your desire to wear fashionable shoes. Consult your podiatrist about better footwear choices that will both look good on your feet and prevent problems with fungal infections.

By Family Foot and Ankle Center
December 15, 2015
Category: Foot Care
Tags: Claw Toes  

Claw ToesClaw toes are can cause discomfort and embarrassment. Here you will learn how to recognize their characteristics and what can be done to correct them.

Claw toes, sometimes referred to as claw foot, live up to their name. The condition causes the toes to curl into an unnatural, claw­like position. They can be uncomfortable, particularly while wearing shoes, and can be embarrassing when it comes time to wear open­toed footwear in warmer months. Fortunately, they are treatable, sometimes just with simple home care.

Claw toes overview

Claw toes can develop from nerve damage, muscle weakness or inflammation. Sometimes they are a congenital deformity, meaning that they are part of a person's makeup from birth. They seem to be fairly common in people with high arches. Claw toes cause the first joint of your toes to flex upwards and the second and sometimes third joint to point downwards, resulting in the appearance of a talon, or claw. Calluses can form from the joints pressing against the inside of your shoes. It is a progressive condition; without treatment, claw toes will become more pronounced and uncomfortable.

Home treatment

If rigidity has not set in the joints, you can try simple exercises, such as using your toes to pick up objects from the floor, to straighten them out. Massaging them into a normal position is also useful. You should always wear comfortable shoes with a proper fit and plenty of room in the toes. A shoe repair shop can stretch the toe area to make more space. Pads worn inside the shoes can help to shift your weight and relieve pressure.

Medical intervention

Your doctor may order physical therapy sessions for stretching and strengthening your toe joints. Physical therapists can also design shoe inserts to correct the problem. If your condition has progressed to the point that you cannot manually straighten your toes, surgery can be performed to reposition the joints.

Podiatrists are trained to recognize and diagnose claw toes and many other foot problems. Call for an appointment today to discuss any concerns you may have.



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