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Monday, 26 October 2015 20:58

Bunions

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A bunion is an enlargement of the base joint of the toe that connects to the foot, often formed from a bony growth or a patch of swollen tissues, and is caused by the shifting of the big toe bone inward towards the other toes. This shift can cause a serious amount of pain and discomfort and the area around the big toe will become inflamed, red, and painful.

Bunions are most commonly formed in people who are already genetically predisposed to them or other kinds of bone displacements. However, even if you do not have a history of this in your family, you can still develop bunions if you are wearing improperly fitting shoes, such as trying to cram your feet into high heels, or by running or walking in a way that causes too much stress on the feet. High heels are a major culprit in the formation of bunions because not only do they push the big toe inward, but your body weight and center of gravity is shifted towards the edge of your feet and your toes, which can cause bone displacement.

Bunions are quickly and easily diagnosed by podiatrists. However, because of their nature, they can appear similar to arthritic conditions or gout, so sometimes a blood test is required to fully diagnose a bunion. A full radiological or x-ray exam could also be done by a podiatrist to examine the bone structure of your feet. One thing that is looked for specifically is an enlargement of that base joint or evidence of the big toe bone being pushed inward.

One of the first things to do if you have bunions is to get a larger, wider shoe that can remove pressure from your toes. This usually means that high heels should be eliminated from use for a period of time to allow the bunion to heel. Oftentimes, eliminating the pressure placed on a bunion is enough to eliminate the pain involved with them, however, pain can persist in some instances and anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed. If the pain is too severe, steroid injections near the bunion or even surgery may be required. Orthotics for shoes may also be prescribed which can alleviate the pain of bunions by removing pressure from them. However, these methods simply stop the pain of bunions but do not correct the problem at its source.

As previously mentioned, surgery may be an option to completely eliminate your bunions. Surgery is done to reposition the toe bones so that they no longer face inward. This can be done by removing a section of bone or by rearranging the ligaments and tendons in the toe to help them align properly. Even after the surgery, it may be necessary to wear protective shoes for a while to ensure that the bunions do not return.

Monday, 19 October 2015 19:08

Ankle Sprains

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Ankle sprains can be a serious injury that should be given immediate attention and care, despite not being as severe as a broken ankle. An ankle sprain can lead to a significant amount of pain, as well as limited mobility. They are often characterized by swelling and discoloration of the skin, which occurs when the ligaments are stretched beyond their limits.

The simple act of walking can sometimes cause a sprain, which makes them a very common injury for anyone. They occur when the ankle twists in an awkward way or rolls over itself, causing a pop or snap in the tendons around the ankle. Some people are more at risk than others, including athletes who continually push their bodies to the limits and also people who have previously suffered accidents to the feet, ankles, or lower legs.

Most of the time, an ankle sprain is not severe enough to warrant rushing to the hospital. There are many at-home treatment options available to you, including propping the leg up above your head to reduce blood flow and inflammation, applying ice packs to the affected area as needed, taking over the counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medication, using an ACE bandage to wrap and support the injured ankle, and most importantly, remaining off your feet until the ankle has fully healed.

Despite this, an ankle sprain can turn into a severe injury that might require hospitalization. If the ankle ligaments or muscles are damaged from a tear or rip, that is one sign that the sprain is severe enough to warrant going to the hospital and possibly having surgery done. Even after the surgery, the recovery process can be long, involving rehabilitation sessions administered by a podiatrist to get your ankle back to full health.

The severity of your sprain might become apparent if you are unable to stand or walk, non-stop pain is occurring over a prolonged period of time, swelling is much more severe than initially present, or if you start to experience tingling or numbness. These signs might show that your ankle sprain might actually be a broken ankle, an injury that requires immediate medical attention.

While not completely avoidable, ankle sprains can be curbed with some preventative treatment measures. These include wearing appropriate fitting shoes that not only provide a comfortable fit, but also ankle support. It is also recommended to stretch before doing any kind of physical activity, as this will help lower your body’s chance for an injury.

Monday, 12 October 2015 22:34

Heel Spurs

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Heel spurs are essentially a hook of bone that forms at the back of the foot, at the base of the ankle. Heel spurs are also described as a calcium deposit that covers the tendons and ligaments of the ankle. Heel spurs cause extreme pain, and can prevent someone from walking or being physically active at a normal level.

Heel spurs are more common than people expect them to be. They are most common in people age forty and over, although heel spurs can occur in people younger than forty, and frequently affect athletes or people who are very physically active. Heel spurs are also common in those with poor circulation and degenerative diseases. People who suffer from arthritis may suffer from heel spurs as well.

The symptoms of heel spurs are pain in the lower ankle, which increase when walking.
Treatment of heel spurs can be treated many ways and most often times is very effective. If someone suspects that they have heel spurs, they should contact their physician. Their physician will recommend that they perform an x-ray on the patient's ankles. The physician may also perform a physical on the patient to ensure that there are no underlying conditions, and of course if heel spurs are discovered a physician can recommend treatment options.

Orthopedic shoes are specially designed footwear for people who suffer with foot problems. Orthopedics offer a rubber sole, which cushions the heel and adds comfort to those who suffer from heel spurs. Another simple way to help the pain of heel spurs is to elevate the ankle to diminish the pain. When elevating the ankle, the blood is not focused on that area of the foot and can bring some relief. When all these options have been attempted, and there is still no relief from heel spurs, or the heel spurs return, surgery can be the more dramatic and permanent way to rid patient of heel spurs.

There are less conventional ways that are becoming more popular ways to treat heel spurs. One option would be to use a night splint which reduces the pain caused from heel spurs if worn overnight. Other alternative treatment methods that can be used are ultrasound, or acupressure. There are also other tolls that can be used are heel cups, heel seats, heel pads, arch supports, and insoles.

Exercise is also another powerful tool to help alleviate pain from heel spurs and can help in dealing with some of the symptoms, although exercising incorrectly and forgetting to protect your feet can lead to further pain. It is important to remember the correct way to place the feet when exercising so as to avoid making the problems worse, or creating problems. When exercising to alleviate heel spurs, exercising strengthens muscles around the surrounding tissue around the ankle. Stretching will also keep the tendons around the ankle flexible.

Monday, 05 October 2015 00:00

All About Plantar Warts

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Plantar warts are warts that are only found on the feet, hence the term “plantar”, which means “relating to the foot.” They are caused by the human papillomavirus, or HPV, and occur when this virus gets into open wounds on the feet. The warts themselves are hard bumps on the foot and easily recognizable, mostly found on the heels or ball of the foot. For the most part, plantar warts are non-malignant, but they can cause some pain, discomfort, and are often unsightly, so removing them is often the first step taken.

Plantar warts can cause some pain while standing, sometimes felt as tenderness on the sole of your foot. Unless the wart has grown into the foot behind a callus, you will be able to see the fleshy wart. Because plantar warts are not cancerous or dangerous, a podiatrist should only be consulted if there is an excess amount of pain associated with having them, if they are affecting your walking, or if they continually come back. However, anyone who suffers from diabetes or a compromised immune system disease should seek out care immediately.

Podiatrists are easily able to diagnose plantar warts. They usually scrape off a tiny bit of the rough skin in order to make tiny blood clots visible and show the inside of these warts. However, a biopsy can be done if the doctor is not able to diagnose them from simply looking at them. Although plantar warts usually do not require an excessive amount of treatment, there are ways to go about removing them. A common method is to freeze them off using liquid nitrogen, removing them using an electrical tool or burning them off via laser treatment. For a less invasive treatment option, topical creams can be used through a doctor’s prescription, which may help given enough time and patience.

If you prefer to use home remedies an apple cider vinegar soak is believed to help remove the wart. This treatment takes time. Soak your infected foot in the vinegar for 20 minutes before using a pumice stone to remove any loose skin from the wart. Keep the wart covered for protection in between daily treatments.

The best way to avoid developing plantar warts is to avoid walking barefoot in public places, especially when you have open sores or cuts on your feet. It is also important to avoid direct contact with any other warts you might have or warts other people might have, as they are highly contagious.

Monday, 28 September 2015 21:02

Plantar Fasciitis Treatment Relieves Heel Pain

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A new treatment option which combines ultrasound waves and steroid injections was found to be effective in patients suffering from plantar fasciitis, according to a groundbreaking study from the University of Genoa in Italy.

The plantar fascia is a connective tissue in the heel that stretches the bottom length of your foot. Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of this connective band, causing heel pain and overall discomfort while walking or standing. Although the condition is completely treatable, traditional methods can take up to a year to start being effective.

These conventional treatments include arch support, night splints, certain exercises, and overall rest and staying off your feet.  The previous effective method for curing plantar fasciitis was shockwave therapy, in which sound waves are directed to the area where the pain is being experienced, often the heel. Despite the success of shockwave therapy, it could be considered somewhat slow, requires several sessions before any results are noticed, and is comparably expensive. However, even shockwave therapy does not cure the pain caused by plantar fasciitis in every patient.

The study, conducted by Luca M. Sconfienza, M.D., examined the effects of a new technique that combined ultrasound-guided methods, similar to shockwave therapy, with a steroid injection directly the plantar fascia. Because of the added steroid injection, the method becomes a one-time outpatient procedure involving a small amount of local anesthesia, in which a needle punctures the affected area and causes a small amount of bleeding that aids in the heeling of the fascia. This technique is referred to as dry-needling.

Dr. Sconfienza determined that 42 of the 44 patients involved in the new procedure had their symptoms, including pain, disappear entirely within three weeks. “This therapy is quicker, easier, less painful, and less expensive than shockwave therapy,” Dr. Sconfienza stated. “In cases of mild plantar fasciitis, patients should first try non-invasive solutions before any other treatments. But when pain becomes annoying and affects the activities of daily living, dry-needling with steroid injection is a viable option.”

Monday, 21 September 2015 00:00

Elderly and their Feet

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While proper foot care is important for everybody, senior citizens have the tendency to be more susceptible to certain conditions and should therefore be well informed about problems that may arise and what they can do to properly avoid or treat them.

Some of the most common problems are foot ulcers, ingrown toenails, fallen arches, and fungal infection. A foot ulcer is an open sore on the foot and can be a result of decreased sensation in the feet. An ingrown toenail is defined as when the nail grows into the side of the toe. Fallen arches are indicated by the instep of the foot collapsing. A fungal infection is a condition that results in deformed and discolored toenails.

In order to avoid these conditions it is recommended that the feet be inspected on a regular basis. If these inspections are carried out routinely, there is a good likelihood that problems can be identified before they become severe, or can even be avoided altogether. If any abnormality is discovered, it is important that you consult a doctor for diagnosis and information on treatment options.

Proper foot hygiene is also important. Making sure that you always have clean, dry socks on can be a major deterrent to many different problems including bacterial infections, foot odor, and certain types of fungus. Wet feet are a major cause of many of these problems. If your socks get wet, it is important to change them. Walking around in wet socks may not only lead to various infections, but can irritate the skin and result in a number of various complications. Clean, dry feet are less likely to be affected by fungal and other infections. If you can keep the skin on your feet healthy, this will substantially reduce the number of foot problems you will encounter in old age.

Proper footwear is another way to keep feet healthy. Shoes that fit well and provide proper support help prevent ingrown toenails and fallen arches.

Certain medical conditions such as diabetes or poor blood circulation increase the risk for foot issues. For individuals with any of these conditions it is extremely important to conduct regular foot inspections to make sure that there are no sores or infections present.

Monday, 14 September 2015 00:00

How to Prevent Running Injuries

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Many common running injuries are caused by overuse and overtraining. Several common injuries can occur due to running. When the back of the kneecap starts wearing away and starts causing pain in the knee, this is commonly referred to as runner’s knee. Runner’s knee can occur because of decreased strength in the quadricep muscles or shoes that do not offer proper support to the inside of the forefoot. Runner’s knee usually is treated with strengthening exercises focusing on the quad muscle and sports orthotic. To prevent runner’s knee, efforts should be focused on hip strengthening. Physical therapy is also beneficial in helping to learn the best exercises to heal runner’s knee. To prevent runner’s knee, strengthen the quad muscles to keep the kneecap aligned.

Overtraining is one cause of a common running injury called iliotibial band syndrome, which occurs when the iliotibial band gets irritated, causing pain and discomfort to the outside knee area. Another common running injury is known as plantar fasciitis, which occurs when the bone in the foot becomes inflamed and irritated. This injury primarily causes pain in the foot. Causes can include a high arch, incorrect footwear, tight muscles and flat feet. The best way to avoid plantar fasciitis is stretching and proper footwear.

Stress fractures are a common injury for runners. These fractures can occur because of overtraining, lack of calcium or running style. In runners, it is common for stress fractures to occur in several locations including the inner bone of the leg, the thighbone, the bone at the base of the spine and the toe bones in the foot. The best approach to preventing stress fractures are proper footwear maintenance and running on a surface with enough “give” to absorb some of the shock produced during running.

Besides overtraining, other causes of these common running injuries are poorly fitting footwear, irregular biomechanics, and lack of flexibility and strength. The best way to avoid running injuries is to prevent them. Fortunately, each of these common running injuries can be prevented. To avoid running injuries it is highly recommended to wear only footwear that fits properly and that suits your needs. Running shoes are the only protective gear that runners have to safeguard them from injury; therefore, choosing the correct footwear for running is important. It is important, too, to think about other aspects of your running routine like training schedules, flexibility and strengthening, and tailor them to your needs in order to minimize the possibility of injury. Regular stretching before and after running should be considered also when trying to avoid running injuries. Stretching keeps muscles limber resulting in greater flexibility.

Monday, 07 September 2015 00:00

Podiatric Rehab for Athletes

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No sport that offers a complete guarantee from foot or ankle injuries exists. Even more simple activities such as participating in a game of darts or pool could risk injury to the foot in some way. Regardless of the sport or activity, any athlete suffering from a foot or ankle injury needs to find a way to get back on his or her feet as soon as possible. Although immediate results are desired, sometimes a quick recovery just isn’t possible.

All podiatric injuries require immediate attention. Anytime the foot or ankle sustains an injury, the muscles surrounding the bones may weaken or atrophy as a result of disuse. Although the bones heal on their own, it takes a particularly stronger effort on an athlete’s part to regain full use of the foot and ankle. A physician might recommend the patient undergo rehabilitation, or physical therapy. Physical therapy consists of simple but repetitive isometric exercises that will cause the body to rebuild the muscles and tendons in the area. Over time, a full range of movement is restored as a result of the therapy.

When it comes to choosing foot and ankle rehabilitation, a licensed sports therapist tends to be the best option. Licensed sports therapists are trained in dealing with athletic rehabilitation, and a good sports therapist knows how to take their time with a patient and help him or her understand their condition and the options available. General physical therapists also can do the job but may not understand the special demands an athlete has. Either way, so long as the therapist sees their client return to the field or court will make the exact recommendations required to get back in the game.

Although professional athletes most definitely need a trained sports therapist, amateur and weekend athletes can also benefit from sports therapy as well. No foot or ankle injury should cause someone to give up a sport or hobby he or she loves, and a sports therapist can provide a tremendous help in that regard.

Physical therapy does not always heal certain injuries one hundred percent but will help the affected patient get progressively better. Lesser injuries only last a while with a sports therapist. Foot and ankle rehabilitation services should be on a priority for any athlete with a foot or ankle injury.

Monday, 31 August 2015 00:00

Exercise for Your Feet

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Whether your feet are over-worked or under-worked, chances are they could benefit from some special attention. Even those who exercise regularly probably do not spend any time strengthening their feet. This can be just as rewarding as strengthening the rest of the body, since the health of your feet affects the health of the rest of the body as well, especially the ankles, legs, and spine.

For those who might not have any idea on how a foot-specific exercise might be conducted, there are several workouts that are fairly easy to perform in the comfort of your home. One of the easiest is the toe rise, also known as the tip-toe. This exercise involves standing on the tip-toes for a count of 15 then resting the feet on the ground. This process should be repeated a minimum of three times a day in order to strengthen the feet.

Toe pick-ups strengthen the feet by working them in a very different way. In this exercise, small items are picked up using the toes in order to strengthen the muscles on the upper part of the feet. Once again three sets should be performed, with the item in question being held for 15 seconds then dropped. Items that may be picked up using the feet include marbles and even stationery, which works wonders for the toes and the surrounding muscles.

Yet another simple workout is the ankle pump. This can be done either upwards or downwards, but for the workout to be most effective both can be incorporated into the routine. As the term suggests, this involves lifting the foot off the floor and flexing the toes either towards the shin or towards the ground. This movement puts the feet and ankles through a large range of motion which works muscles.

Last but not least, feet should be stretched so that the muscles can relax and recuperate. This can be done by placing both feet off the floor and bracing oneself against the wall at a 45 degree angle. This ensures that the feet and ankles are adequately stretched once the workout is complete.

In short, giving the feet a good workout every now and then is important in order to avoid problems such as plantar fasciitis, as well as to warm-up or cool-down after running or vigorous walking. Foot exercises may be followed by a good foot massage which encourages circulation in the feet as well as muscle relaxation.

Monday, 24 August 2015 19:57

Flip-flops and Feet

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Flip-flops are often a popular choice of footwear for their ability to allow your feet to take in open air. As well as, for the freedom of movement they allow your toes. They are easy to slip on and can be worn with virtually any style of clothing. Flip-flops, however, despite their many benefits, can be detrimental for your foot health.

Despite their comfortableness, the frequent wearing of flip-flops can create problems in the lower body over time. Issues mainly stem from the fact that people walk differently in flip-flops compared to other footwear, such as sneakers. This is due to a change in one’s natural gait, which therefore creates stress in different parts of the body while simultaneously throwing off the body entirely. Problems can also arise in the arches and balls of the feet, as flip-flops provide little to no support to these areas.

Aside from long-term problems, flip-fops can also create short-term issues as well, such as ankle sprains and blisters. Weak materials that are flexible and bendable are generally used to manufacture flip-fops; these materials make a wearer prone to both trip and injure their ankles. Flip-flops can create blisters as the material rubs against the foot. People are much more at risk for infection while wearing flip-flops due to their openness; this also makes it easier to scrape and cut the foot since there is a lack of protection. If these cuts are left untreated and uncovered, the risk then becomes greater.

To prevent the aforementioned occurrences, purchase a pair of flip-flops that offer significant protection. The soles of the flip-flops should not be floppy, but sturdy and firm, and should not significantly bend or wiggle when lifted from the floor. Flip-flops made of high-quality materials will not be affected by this problem. While higher quality flip-flops may be more expensive, they will last longer and provide better protection compared to a cheaper pair. Brand name flip-flops sold from a quality manufacturer are a dependable option.

There is no problem in wearing your favorite pair of flip-flops so as long as you do not wear them daily or for extended periods of time. Flip-flops should be replaced every 3-4 months to ensure that they provide your feet with the best protection. 

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