Foot and Ankle Center Blog

Posts for: June, 2013

As we approach the warm summer months, many people have a natural tendency to pitch their shoes in favor of san- dals and flip-flops. Although sandals and flip-flops have been around for centuries, their popularity has grown and become a part of the mainstream. The cheap rubber thongs of the sixties that were once used during backyard car washes and beach out- ings have become a summer craze. They have transcended from the drugstore specials and are sold everywhere. Today, flip-flops are fashionable and used for everyday wear. It is not uncommon to see runway models and movie stars wearing designer flip-flops, or professional athletes promoting them in television commercials and magazine ads. People of all ages are using them for almost any occasion. It seems like everyone has a couple of pairs on hand to wear for different occasions. Despite their popularity, flip-flops are not a safe bet for anyone, at any age, especially seniors. Probably the biggest cause for foot and ankle pain is due to improper footwear. Typically, there is a significant rise in plantar fasciitis problems during the early summer months as seniors tran- sition from supportive winter-type shoes to flip-flops. Plantar fasci- itis is an inflammation of the thick tissue that connects the heel to the toes creating the arch of the foot. The lack of support causes abnormal stretch to the arch, which leads to heal pain. We also see a considerable amount of tendonitis in other areas of the foot and ankle as well as arthritic pain in the middle of the foot caused by non-supportive shoes.

Flip-flops are not good for walking because they do not provide an adequate cushion for the heel, proper shock absorption, or arch support. Also, flip-flops alter gait (walking) patterns resulting in structural problems and pain that migrates from the feet upward to the hips and back. As we age, our ability to accommodate un- even ground declines and so does our basic stability. Flip-flops are highly unstable and non-supportive and may lead to much more serious problems, especially if the tip of the flip-flop on the non- supporting swing leg catches the ground. This often results in a blunt trauma to a toe, a torn nail bed, or toe fracture. It can even lead to a devastating fall resulting in a sprain, fracture, or trauma. In some cases this can be life threatening.

Overall, flip-flops are not a safe bet for seniors; however, if they are to be worn, consider selecting higher quality flip-flops that pro- vide better support, comfort, function, and quality. Crocs, Cudas, Deep See, and PecheBlu are considered to be best of class.

Sandals are a better choice than flip-flops for seniors because they offer more support and protection. The best designs have soles that extend beyond the toes to protect the toe box and a strap across the back of the heel. I recommend sandals manufac- tured by Merrell and Keen. The American Podiatric Medical Asso- ciation website also lists sandals produced by Dansko, Rockport, Chaco, and Wolky.

“Flip-flops are not good for walking because they do not provide an adequate cushion for the heel, proper shock absorption, or arch support.”
 

As a wise blogger on the NY Times once posted in response to an article on flip-flops and foot pain, “Long live flip-flops and those who know how to master their use.” Enjoy your summer by making safe and sensible footwear selections.

As a wise blogger on the NY Times once posted in response to an article on flip-flops and foot pain, “Long live flip-flops and those who know how to master their use.” Enjoy your summer by making safe and sensible footwear selections.

For more information on pain relief from tendonitis, heel pain,  plantar  fasciitis,  and  arthritis  of  the  foot  and  ankle,  or  to  find  a  board-certified foot and ankle surgeon, call Dr. John Sigle at 217- 787-2700. Visit myfootandanklecenter.com to obtain information  from the patient education library on these subjects.


By Foot & Ankle Center Of Illinois
June 17, 2013
Category: Foot Care

Heel PainMetatarsalgia denotes a common foot condition characterized by pain and inflammation of the joints and bones of the ball of the foot - the area just before the toes, also called the metatarsal region.

Symptoms of metatarsalgia can develop suddenly, especially after an increase in exercise or high-impact activities, but normally the problems develop over time. Common symptoms of metatarsalgia include:

  • Sharp, aching or burning pain in the ball of your foot -- the part of the sole just behind the toes
  • Pain that intensifies when you stand, walk or run
  • Pain that radiates from the balls of the feet into the toes
  • Numbness or tingling in the toes
  • A feeling in your feet as if you are walking with a pebble in your shoe
  • Pain that increases when walking barefoot

Sometimes a single factor can trigger metatarsalgia. More often, multiple factors contribute to the pain, including:

  • Over-training or Over-activity. Extensive training and high-impact sports, especially running, places an abnormal amount of stress on the balls of the feet, causing irritation, inflammation and pain.
  • Other foot disorders. High arches, hammertoes, bunions, stress fractures and Morton's neuroma can all trigger metatarsalgia symptoms.
  • Poor-fitting footwear. High heels, narrow-toed shoes and shoes without adequate padding can all contribute to metatarsal problems.
  • Excess weight. Extra weight places excess pressure on your metatarsals.
  • Aging. The fat pads on the metatarsals thin out as a person ages, diminishing the ability of the metatarsal bones to protect themselves.

Although generally not serious, metatarsalgia can disrupt your day to day activities, and when left untreated can lead to additional pain in your unaffected foot, back or hips. Treatment to eliminate metatarsalgia symptoms can be as simple as resting, icing the affected area and wearing proper-fitting shoes to significantly reduce swelling and ease pain.

When conservative treatments aren't affective and pain persists, visit Foot & Ankle Center Of Illinois for a full exam and a proper diagnosis. In most cases, metatarsalgia can be treated non-surgically. An experienced podiatrist at our Springfield office may prescribe specially-designed orthotics or shock-absorbing insoles and arch supports to prevent and minimize future problems with metatarsalgia.