Our feet and ankles are prone to a number of problems at different stages of life. Below is a list of common foot and ankle problems. With each issue, you can find quick advice for finding relief from your ailment, and if you experience any of the following conditions, contact your podiatrist for further diagnosis and treatment options.
A bunion is a painful enlargement at the joint of the big toe. An important part of treatment is to wear shoes that conform to the shape of your foot and do not cause pressure areas. By doing this, you can often alleviate your pain. However, severe cases can be disabling. Visit your podiatrist for further treatment options if the change in shoes does not provide relief.
Heel pain is extremely common and can often begin without injury. You will often feel pain under the heel while standing or walking, with symptoms at their worst when first arising out of bed. Most cases will improve on their own. Heel stretching, medication to reduce swelling of the soft tissues of the foot and orthotics can all be helpful in providing relief from your heel pain. For prolonged and troubling cases, visit your podiatrist for further treatment.
Corns and Calluses
Corns and calluses are caused by pressure on the skin of your foot. Treatment involves relieving the pressure on the skin, usually by modifying the shoe. Pads to relieve the bony pressure are helpful, but they must be positioned carefully. A visit to your podiatrist will help in the treatment planning.
Plantar warts occur on the sole of the foot and look like calluses. They result from an infection by a specific virus and are like other warts, but they grow inward. Plantar warts are difficult to treat, but success has been achieved with repeated applications of salicylic acid to soften the overlying callus and expose the virus. Other treatments include injecting the warts with medication, freezing them with liquid nitrogen and, very rarely, surgery. Your podiatrist can create the best treatment plan for your plantar warts.
By Grant Gonzalez, DPM
Toenail fungus, medically known as Onychomycosis, (on-ee-ko-me-KO-sis) is a one of the more common foot problems that plague over 40 million Americans. Every day we see toenail fungus commercials on the television, internet and social media platforms, radio, and in print. Even our
highways are plastered with ads. Unless you have been living with this condition, you are not likely to pay attention to all the ad campaigns that claim to offer the best solution to this problem.
I am sure everyone with toenail fungus wishes there was a fast remedy, but there is no quick fix with over-the-counter topical creams, prescription lacquers, or oral medications. It is a long, tedious process that works less than half the time. In fact, buyers must beware because many ads are misleading.
Efficacy rates are not always accurate, risks have a tendency to be minimized, and superiority claims are usually unsubstantiated.
The good news is that toenail fungus can be managed and cured in the majority of cases. Some podiatrists are using a more synergistic approach to ensure success. Here is an innovative treatment protocol that is achieving high efficacy rates:
Confirm the diagnosis
While fungus is a common cause of discoloration and thickening of toenails, there are several other conditions that can present similarly. These include persistent trauma, psoriasis, or eczema among others. Toe contractures (also known as hammertoes) can cause the toenail to persistently contact the ground and cause nail changes. In some cases, nail clippings or debris form under the mail has to be sent to a laboratory for confirmation. If the fungal infection is present, your podiatrist can and work with you to begin appropriate therapy.
When a fungal infection is confirmed, you and your podiatrist can decide on using a combination of both oral and topical antifungals. These can begin safely fighting and killing the fungal infection and start you on your way to clear, healthy nails.
Laser the fungus away
A very effective tool in the armamentarium (ar·ma·men·tar·i·um), or collection of resources available to combat this condition, is laser technology. Some high-powered lasers can kill the fungus instantly. This completely safe treatment heats up the nail, and one to three treatments are normally prescribed to kill any residual fungus as the toenails clear over time. Treatments are generally pain free, drug free, quick, and safe.
Don’t live with ugly nails
A KeryFlex Nail RestorationTM process is being used in conjunction with laser treatments to provide natural looking nails while the nails are growing out during a typical six to 12 month period. This process applies a special resin on top of the existing nail which is hardened with a UV light to form a natural-looking nail. The resin contains an antifungal agent and prohibits fungus from re-entering the nailbed. This process allows the patient to walk away from laser treatment with natural looking nails. KeryFlexTM treatments are repeated until the fully formed new nails are cleared. Patients are able to end the embarrassment of ugly toenails instantly.
Eliminate sources of reinfection
There are several common organisms that cause toenail fungus, and they also can subsequently cause athlete’s foot, which is a fungal infection of the skin of your feet, which commonly affects the soles and spaces in-between toes. Not treating an accompanying skin infection can allow cross contamination of the feet and nails, and can cause reinfection and return of toenail fungus. Treating athlete’s foot with a formidable antifungal cream can give you a leg up in the fight against toenail fungus and prevent a frustrating recurrence.
Your podiatrist can also provide you with other tips to lower the risk of reoccurrence and to eliminate existing fungus. Some of the tips will involve changes in clothing, grooming, sharing
products, avoiding public places that harbor fungus, changing eating habits, and new cleanliness practices.
Stay toenail fungus-free forever
Fungus is everywhere, but tends to thrive in warm, wet, dark places, such as your shoes. Since we often perspire into our shoes and rarely give them time to air out, fungus can grow rampant and cause reinfection of toenails even after successful treatment. A great way to eliminate this mycotic propensity is to use a device known as a SterishoeTM. This UV light powered device can completely eliminate all fungal and bacterial colonization from your shoes in as little as 15 minutes, and allow you to wear sterile shoes every single day. This device also contains a fan, allowing shoes to dry properly, and it eliminates shoe odor.
In the majority of cases, this synergistic approach will effectively kill the fungus and prevent an agonizing recurrence, provide instant gratification, and end the embarrassment of ugly toenails, prevent reinfection, and restore the natural beauty of your nails. Getting rid of toenail fungus becomes more important for individuals who are at risk due to poor peripheral circulation, diabetes, undergoing cancer therapy, or for those who have immunosuppressed systems. It also is of greater concern for those who want to reduce the spread of infection among household members.
Toenail fungus can be a frustrating medical problem to eliminate. Teaming up with a podiatrist who uses a synergistic approach to combat this condition will give you a fighting chance for success. If you are tired of living with embarrassment and ugly toenails, call the Foot & Ankle Center of Illinois/Illinois Laser Center at 217-670-2160 for a consultation. To learn more about laser treatment and the KeryFlex Nail RestorationTM process, visit myfootandanklecenter.com. Short videos are available to view both processes and to listen to
By John Sigle, DPM, FACFAS, Foot & Ankle Center of Illinois
Unlike most Americans who can’t wait to come home at night and kick off their shoes, some people with Metatarsalgia (met-a-tar-sal-gia) actually experience more pain when they walk in their socks or bare feet. Metatarsalgia is a condition characterized by a sharp aching or burning pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot. It affects the metatarsal heads, the bones that make up the ball of the foot. The first metatarsal head behind the big toe is the most common area affected but it can also affect the other toes, the entire foot, or both feet. Other symptoms include tingling or numbness in the toes; pain around the second, third, and fourth toes or only near the big toe; increased pain when you walk, run, jump, or when you stand or flex your feet. Patients with this condition often feel like they have a stone in their shoe, or that their socks are wadded up causing them to walk on the side of their foot to avoid pressure. Also, calluses often form on the ball of the foot because of the friction caused by unequal pressure distribution points.
Metatarsalgia can affect males and females of all ages. It is primarily related to repetitive stress and impacts on the foot, and is often experienced by people who participate in intense physical
activities or training such as running, tennis, soccer, and basketball. Metatarsalgia generally occurs from a single cause, but other factors may contribute to this condition. These include wearing ill-fitted shoes (high heels), having certain foot and toe shapes (high arches, a second toe that is longer than the first metatarsal), being overweight, or old age. It can also be attributed to a stress fracture or other foot deformities like a hammer toe or bunion, or from Morton’s Neuroma (a fibrous tissue around the digital nerve between two metatarsal heads of the toe), diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, fluid in the foot, and gout.
There are a variety of home remedies that should be tried prior to contacting your podiatrist. This condition is relatively easy to treat if addressed during the early stages. Some of the things that can be done include wearing properly fitting shoes indoors and outdoors. avoiding pressure and impact loads, resting your feet and keeping them elevated, applying ice throughout the day, taking anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen), using metatarsal pads, shock absorption pads, or arch supports. If your pain persists for a month or so, schedule an appointment with a podiatrist for a diagnosis and proper treatment. There are a variety of problems that can cause symptoms similar to Metatarsalgia. Most likely, it will be necessary to do a gait analysis to identify the areas in the foot that are receiving pressure, image tests (X-ray or MRI) or ultrasound to confirm if there are fractures or if the problem is related to a metatarsal drop or improper length. Imaging will also help your podiatrist determine if the pain is being caused by a
Morton’s Neuroma. Blood tests may also be necessary to rule out
gout, diabetes, or arthritis.
Your podiatrist may also be able to offer you a custom orthotic device to alter the pressure distribution of the metatarsal region and relieve inflammation and pain. An orthotic device can be added to all shoe types (except sandals) and will be particularly helpful for running and athletic shoes. Orthotics is also well suited for individuals who have a high arch because it can prevent the arch from collapsing and relieve stress on the metatarsals. Orthotics is also effective for people with a Morton’s Neuroma because it provides an extension underneath the big toe.
Laser therapy is the latest advancement that is being used for patients in the acute phase of Metatarsalgia. The lasers are designed to reduce pain, relieve inflammation, and restore mobility. These lasers use specific wavelengths of light that have a strong anti-inflammatory, anti-edema effect on tissues. Photons of laser energy penetrate deeply into tissue and accelerate cellular reproduction and growth, thereby speeding recovery. Painful conditions accompanied by swelling or inflammation benefit from this technology. Once the inflammation subsides, physical therapy may also be used to increase range of motion, reduce stress on the forefoot, and strengthen the toe flexor muscles.
For more severe cases where conservative treatment and therapies have failed, steroid injections or surgery may be recommended. Surgery may involve a correction of a hammertoe deformity, release or removal of a nerve impingement, or reshaping of the metatarsal bones. If you are suffering from Metatarsalgia foot pain and want relief today, follow some of the home remedies listed above or contact a podiatrist for a diagnosis and treatment. If you are seeking assistance from a board certified podiatrist, contact the Foot & Ankle Center of Illinois at 217-787-2700. Visit myfootandanklecenter.com to view a short video on cutting edge MLS Laser Therapy and to obtain information on custom orthotics.
Often, the problems in your feet and ankles go away with time, rest, ice, anti-inflammatories and changing your shoes. However, sometimes these problems just won’t go away, and that's when you should visit your podiatrist for further diagnosis and treatment.
When Should I See a Podiatrist?
If you are having a specific foot problem, your best bet is to visit your podiatrist for the best care available. Several serious conditions, such as diabetes and peripheral arterial disease, can show up in your feet first, making it more important than ever to get them checked out.
A Wound or Sore That Does Not Heal
If you have an open sore on your foot or ankle, you should visit your podiatrist immediately! This is especially important if you have diabetes, as it takes a diabetic longer to heal even when being treated.
Some changes to your feet are normal as you age, but having pain isn’t one of them. As you begin putting more miles on your feet, you may notice that your feet change shape, lose cushioning, experience skin changes, develop arthritis and experience an array of other complications. It's always best to get checked by your podiatrist rather than unknowingly let a serious foot issue worsen, especially as you age.
Pain Increasing with Activity or Lasting more than 24 Hours
If you are experiencing pain that gets worse with activity, this may be a sign of a stress fracture. You should not try to work through the pain. Instead, it is vital that you visit your podiatrist. If you treat a stress fracture early, you can potentially avoid more serious problems, such as a stress fracture that will not heal, or one that turns into a fully broken bone.
Don’t ignore your foot or ankle pain! Visit your podiatrist for a diagnosis, treatment and to help prevent your symptoms from worsening.
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