Posts for: August, 2011
A hammertoe is one of the most common toe conditions, usually stemming from muscle imbalance in which the joints of the second, third, fourth or fifth toe are bent into a contracted, claw-like position. In the early stages, hammertoes are flexible and can be corrected with simple conservative measures, but if left untreated, they can become fixed and require surgery.
The most common cause of hammertoe is a muscle imbalance. Tight-fitting and high-heeled shoes often aggravate the condition, crowding your toes forward. A hammertoe can also be the result of injury in which you break or jam the toe, or from conditions like arthritis or stroke that affect nerves and muscles. In some cases, hammertoes may even be inherited.
Because of their clenched, claw-like appearance, hammertoes will generally be visibly present. Other signs and symptoms include:
- Difficult or painful motion of a toe joint
- Redness or swelling at a toe joint
- Development of calluses and corns
- Open sores in severe cases
The foot and ankle professionals at our Fairfax office recommend the following for preventing and reducing the symptoms associated with hammertoe:
- Wear comfortable, proper-fitting shoes that provide support and allow enough room for your toes
- Avoid high-heeled or narrow-toed shoes
- Stretch your toe muscles to relieve pressure and pain
- Apply splints, cushions or pads to relieve pressure
- Moisturize with cream to keep the skin soft
Generally, a modification of footwear will reduce the symptoms associated with hammertoe. Other non-surgical treatment includes padding to shield corns and calluses and orthotic devices that are placed in the shoe to help control muscle imbalance. Family Foot and Ankle Center can help you determine the best treatment for your symptoms. Severe cases that don't respond to conservative measures may require surgery to restore your toe's flexibility and eliminate the pressure.
Hammertoes are progressive - they don't go away by themselves and the condition usually gets worse over time. Once a podiatrist at Family Foot and Ankle Center has evaluated your hammertoe, a treatment plan can be developed that is suited to your needs.
The feet have more sweat glands than any other part of the body, which means they have the ability to sweat profusely. With your feet encased in your shoes all day and the sweat unable to evaporate, bacteria will begin to grow rapidly. The presence of certain bacteria begins to break down the sweat, generating an unpleasant odor from the direction of your feet. Other factors can contribute to increased perspiration including anxiety, hormonal changes, medications and various skin conditions.
Foot odor is a common problem, especially among those who perspire excessively, but it can be both embarrassing and physically uncomfortable. If you suffer from foot odor, rest assured that simple lifestyle changes and improved personal hygiene can help reduce and eliminate the smell.
Easy Ways to Eliminate Foot Odor
Since most foot odor is caused from excess sweat and the growth of odor-causing bacteria, it's relatively easy to control and reduce foot odor on your own. Start by taking the following preventative steps:
- Keep your feet clean by washing them with an antibacterial soap on a regular basis to minimize bacteria.
- Keep feet dry as moisture enables the growth of bacteria.
- Alternate shoes and avoid wearing the same pair for multiple days in a row.
- Choose open shoes such as sandals when possible, allowing air onto the feet which evaporates sweat and slows the growth of bacteria.
- Wear cotton socks which whisk away moisture and absorb perspiration.
- Apply foot sprays and powders to the feet. Ask Family Foot and Ankle Center for recommended products.
- Disinfect, wash and discard foul smelling shoes as necessary.
The causes of foot odor are typically not harmful to your health, but do create an environment for the growth of fungus and bacteria. It's not unusual for infections such as toenail fungus and athlete's foot to develop as a result.
When improving your foot hygiene doesn't help reduce the smell, you may need to visit Family Foot and Ankle Center, as persistent foot odor can indicate an infection or a severe case of hereditary sweating. In these cases, a prescription ointment may be required to treat the problem. Visit our Fairfax office and we'll work with you to determine the cause and most effective treatment for your condition.
If your child has ever complained of not being able to sleep at night due to leg pain, he or she may be experiencing what many people refer to as growing pains -- a common occurrence seen in kids during their growth and development years.
Growing pains are often characterized by a sharp, throbbing pain in the leg muscles, usually occurring during the night and sometimes late afternoon without an apparent cause. The nighttime pain can be so intense that it is enough to wake the child from sleep. While there is no evidence that a child's growth is painful, these pains often occur during an active day of running, jumping or swimming.
Whenever a child is afflicted by episodes of recurrent leg pain, it is always best to have them evaluated by Family Foot and Ankle Center. Other foot and leg conditions should be ruled out before a diagnosis of growing pains is made. If the examination is normal, with no redness, tenderness, swelling, or limitation of movement, then it is generally safe to say the child is suffering from growing pains.
Consult with a physician or a podiatrist at Family Foot and Ankle Center if aching legs are a chronic complaint or if the pain is so severe it interferes with the child's daily activities. Persistent pain and other unusual symptoms may indicate a more serious problem. The following symptoms are not due to growing pains and should be evaluated by a doctor:
- Persistent pain
- Swelling or redness in one specific area or joint
- Loss of Appetite
- Abnormal behavior
There are no treatments or medications available for growing pains, but parents can help ease the pain with simple home remedies.
- Massage and rub the child's ache until the pain passes
- Stretch your child's legs throughout the day and before bed
- Heating pads or warm baths can help soothe sore muscles
- Over-the-counter pain relievers (always consult with physician first)
While growing pains are commonly seen in young children during the growth and development years, lower extremity pain can also be caused by mechanical misalignments and structural imperfections. A thorough evaluation is crucial in order to determine the exact cause of your child's leg pain. If growing pains are the cause of your child's discomfort, rest assured that the pain is only temporary and will pass with time.
If you're a runner, it goes without saying that your feet take the brunt of the punishment. In fact, for runners the feet are more vulnerable to injury than any other part of the body. Luckily, both long-distance runners and casual joggers can improve their performance by paying extra attention to their feet and taking steps to prevent common foot problems. Poor fitting footwear is often the source of many foot problems caused by running. A visit to Family Foot and Ankle Center can help you determine the best shoes for your foot structure.
A Runner's Road Block
While many running-related foot injures can result from a fall or twisted ankle, most running injuries are caused by overuse, meaning the majority of runners experience foot and ankle pain because they do too much for too long. Runners should be aware of the signs of foot problems that can slow them down if not treated promptly. Common foot and ankle injuries experienced by runners include:
Achilles Tendonitis: Achilles tendonitis and other calf-related injuries are prevalent in runners. Poor training, overuse and improper footwear are the three most common reasons for this condition. A sudden increase in distance or pace can strain the muscles and tendons in the foot and ankle, causing small tears within these structures that result in pain and inflammation. Appropriate shoes and training are the most important steps to preventing Achilles tendonitis. Conservative treatment includes, rest, ice, stretching, and sometimes orthotics or physical therapy.
Heel Pain: Runners develop heel pain more than any other foot-related injury. Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain, which is the result of excess stress placed on a ligament in the bottom of the foot. Rest, stretching and support are the best ways to ease the pain and inflammation. Reduce your mileage and avoid hill and speed workouts. Stretch before and after you run, and ice your heel after each workout. Special splints and shoe inserts from Family Foot and Ankle Center may also provide support and relief for your heel pain.
Stress Fractures: Stress fractures are small cracks in the surface of a bone. Runners generally notice gradual muscle soreness, stiffness, and pain on the affected bone, most often in the lower leg or the foot. Early diagnosis is critical as the small fracture can spread and eventually become a complete fracture of the bone. Stress fractures are typically caused by an increase in training that occurs more quickly than the body's ability to build up and strengthen the bone. If you have symptoms of a stress fracture, you should stop running immediately and see a podiatrist at Family Foot and Ankle Center. This injury can keep a runner off the roads for several weeks and is not an injury that you can run through. Depending on the severity of the stress fracture, a cast may be necessary.
If you experience chronic foot pain from running, make an appointment with a podiatrist at our Fairfax office. Leaving foot injuries untreated could result in more serious conditions, ultimately keeping you from your best performance. Keep in mind that these are not the only foot ailments caused by running, and when at-home foot care isn't effective, you'll need to be evaluated by a podiatrist. As in most cases, prevention is your best treatment. Good footwear, proper training and recognizing a problem before it becomes serious are your keys to staying on the road and avoiding foot injuries.
The arch structure of our feet determines how we walk, which means our arches need to be both sturdy and flexible in order to adjust to different walking surfaces. For most people, their feet have a curve or an arch at the bottom that provides flexibility and shock absorption. But for the five percent of Adults in the U.S. with flat feet, also known as fallen arches, the arches of their feet are either partially or completely collapsed.
One common type of flatfoot is adult-acquired flatfoot. It is caused by overstretching the tendon that supports the arch. Flexible flatfoot is also common and occurs when the foot is flat when standing, but returns to a normal arch in non-weight-bearing positions.
Factors than increase your risk of flat feet include:
- Excess weight
- Injury to your foot or ankle
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
When to See Your Fairfax Podiatrist
Most adults with a fallen arch experience little to no pain. For these patients, treatment is rarely necessary. A painful flatfoot, however, may be the sign of a congenital abnormality or an injury to the muscles and tendons of the foot. Pain can be severe, making it difficult to walk, wear shoes and perform simple every day tasks. More than achy feet, flatfoot can also lead to other, more serious problems and pain for your ankles, knees, back and hips.
Common symptoms associated with flat feet include:
- Swelling along the inside of the ankle
- Feet that tire easily or ache after standing for an extended period of time
- A lack of mobility in your foot and difficulty standing on your toes
- Sore, swollen feet; especially in the heel or arch of your foot
Steps Away from Flatfoot Pain Relief
If you are experiencing pain caused by flatfoot, visit Family Foot and Ankle Center for an evaluation. We can identify the cause of your pain and recommend the best treatments for your type of arch.
Talk with your podiatrist about the following treatment options:
- Shoe inserts/ Orthotics
- Shoe modifications
- Rest and ice
- Stretching exercises
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
Whether you were born with flat feet or you acquired fallen arches over time, if your flat feet are causing you pain or interfering with your day to day activities, visit Family Foot and Ankle Center. We can work with you to determine the best treatment options to eliminate the pain, improve your mobility and get you back to the activities you love.