Ingrown toenails, also known as onychocryptosis, can be annoying and painful. This common condition occurs when the surrounding skin on one or both sides of the nail grows over the edges of the nail, or when the nail itself penetrates the skin. As the nail digs into the skin, redness, swelling, and pain are often the result.
People develop ingrown toenails for various reasons. Poor nail-trimming is the most common cause, as this encourages the skin to fold over the nail. Other causes include trauma, such as stubbing a toe, or skin conditions, such as fungal infections or nails that are simply too large. In some cases, the condition may even be inherited. Poor fitting shoes generally aggravate the condition, making it worse.
Many cases of ingrown toenails may be prevented by:
- Wearing well-fitted shoes and socks
- Protecting feet from trauma when possible
- Trimming toenails straight across and avoiding repeated trimming of the nail borders
- Keeping feet clean and dry to prevent infection
If an infection is not suspected of your ingrown, it can usually be safely treated from home by soaking your foot in warm water. Avoid "bathroom surgery" and repeated cutting of the nail as this will only make the condition worse.
When attempts to reduce your symptoms from home fail, or when pain, inflammation, swelling or discharge accompany your ingrown, the toenail is most likely infected and should be treated by a podiatrist at our office. People with diabetes, nerve damage or poor circulation should always seek care immediately if an ingrown nail is detected, regardless of the severity.
A podiatrist can examine the affected toe and determine the best treatment for your condition. For an infection, an antibiotic may be prescribed. Other treatments may involve trimming or removing the infected nail with a minor in-office surgical procedure.
Ingrown toenails may be annoying, but rest assured that they can easily be prevented and treated with the help of your podiatrist. If you think you have an ingrown toenail, visit our practice for quick and easy treatment.
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 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. We 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 has evaluated your hammertoe, a treatment plan can be developed that is suited to your needs.
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. They are common for 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. 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. Other more serious foot and leg conditions should be ruled out before a diagnosis of growing pains is made.
Consult with a physician or a podiatrist 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.
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. Bacteria then begins to break down the sweat, generating an unpleasant odor. 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 wick away moisture and absorb perspiration.
- Apply foot sprays and powders to the feet. Ask your podiatrist 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 your podiatrist, 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 office, and we'll work with you to determine the cause and most effective treatment for your condition!
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 our practice can help you determine the best shoes for your foot structure.
A Runner's Roadblock
While many running-related foot injuries 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, the result of placing excessive stress on the 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 our practice 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 a small fracture can spread and eventually become a complete fracture of the bone. Stress fractures are typically caused by increasing training 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. This injury can keep a runner off the track 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. 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 the best medicine. 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 that increase your risk of flat feet include:
- Excess weight
- Injury to your foot or ankle
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
When to See Your Podiatrist
Most adults with a fallen arch experience little to no pain. For these patients, treatment is rarely necessary. 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 everyday 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 Flat Foot Pain Relief
If you are experiencing pain caused by flat feet, visit our practice 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 our practice. 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.
People with diabetes are prone to foot problems, often developing from a combination of poor circulation and nerve damage. Damage to the nerves in the legs and feet diminishes skin sensation, making it difficult to detect or notice pain or temperature changes. A minor sore or scrape on your foot may get infected simply because you don't know it is there. A decrease in blood flow makes it difficult for these injuries to heal. And when a wound isn't healing, it's at risk for infection. Left untreated, minor foot injuries can result in ulceration and even amputation.
Foot Care for Diabetics
Simple daily foot care can help prevent serious health problems associated with diabetes.
We recommend the following tips for keeping your feet healthy and preventing foot complications:
- Wash feet daily. Keep feet clean with mild soap and lukewarm water, and dry thoroughly.
- Moisturize. Moisturize daily to keep dry skin from cracking, and avoid putting lotion between your toes as this may cause infection.
- Trim your toenails carefully. Cut straight across, avoiding the corners; visit our office for assistance
- Never treat corns or calluses on your own. Visit your podiatrist for treatment.
- Protect your feet from hot and cold.
- Keep the blood flowing in your feet and legs. Elevate your feet when sitting, don't sit cross-legged, and stay active.
- Inspect your feet every day. Check your feet for cuts, redness, swelling and nail problems. Contact our practice if you notice anything unusual, even the slightest change.
- Avoid smoking. Smoking restricts blood flow in the feet
- Wear comfortable, supportive shoes and never walk barefoot
- Visit our practice for regular exams. Seeing a podiatrist at our office regularly can help prevent diabetic foot problems.
At our practice, we understand that living with diabetes can be challenging. Let's discuss simple ways you can reduce your risk of foot injuries. We'll work with you to create a treatment plan that fits your lifestyle and gets you back on your feet so you can enjoy the things you love. Remember to inspect your feet every day. If you detect an injury, no matter how small, come in for an exam right away.
Corns and calluses are thick, hardened areas of skin that develop in response to your body's natural defense to repeated pressure or friction. While neither condition presents a long-term or serious health risk, they can be painful, irritating and unattractive.
Identifying a Corn or Callus
Corns and calluses are similar in nature, but differ in size and location. Corns are smaller than calluses and usually have a hard, thickened center surrounded by red, inflamed skin. They typically develop on the tops and sides of your toes and can be painful when touched. Calluses generally develop on your heels and balls of your feet. They vary in size and shape, although almost always larger than corns.
For most people who develop calluses or corns, eliminating the source of pressure is usually enough to make the thickened skin disappear. We recommend the following for treating corns and calluses:
- Wear comfortable shoes and socks. When footwear fits properly, there is less opportunity for friction and rubbing to occur.
- Soak your feet in warm, soapy water to help remove corns and calluses. Rub the thickened skin with a pumice stone to remove toughened layers more easily.
- Keeping your feet moisturized with foot cream or lotion will help improve the quality of your skin and rid your feet from calluses or corns.
When to Seek Care
When corns and calluses don't respond to conservative care, contact our office for a careful evaluation. We can investigate the possible causes of your corn or callus, safely remove the thick, hardened area of skin, and recommend appropriate footwear and treatment, including padding and inserts. Never attempt to cut away a corn or callus on your own, especially if you have diabetes or poor circulation. Instead, seek advice for careful removal and proper care.
A bunion is an abnormal, bony prominence that develops on the joint at the base of your big toe. As the big toe joint becomes enlarged, it forces the toe to crowd against your other toes, and the pressure exerted on your big toe joint results in inflammation and pain. Early treatment is necessary to decrease the risk of developing joint deformities.
Bunions develop due to prolonged abnormal pressure or motion on your big toe joint, most often caused by inherited structural defects, poor-fitting shoes, foot injuries, or congenital deformities. Women are generally more prone to bunions because of the shoe types typically worn, such as high-heels and narrow-toed shoes.
Bunion pain can range from mild to severe, often making it difficult to wear shoes and perform normal activities. You should contact our office if you notice the following symptoms:
- An enlarged, visible bulge on your big toe joint
- Restricted movement of your big toe or foot that prevents you from performing normal activities
- Irritation, corns or calluses caused by the overlap of the first and second toes
- Frequent pain, swelling or redness around your big toe joint
Treatment For a Bunion
Treatment for a bunion will vary depending on its severity. Identifying the condition in its early stages is important to avoid surgery, with the main objective of early treatment being to relieve pressure and stop the progression of the deformity. Many times conservative treatments, such as padding, modified footwear or orthotic devices can be highly effective for preventing further growth and reducing the pressure and pain.
We recommend the following for reducing pressure and pain caused by bunions:
- Wear comfortable shoes that don't cramp or irritate your toes and avoid high-heeled shoes
- Apply ice to reduce inflammation and pain
- Our podiatrists can show you how to apply padding to your foot to place it in its normal position and reduce stress on the bunion
When early treatments fail or the persistent pain associated with your bunion is interfering with your daily activities, a surgical procedure may be recommended as a last resort to realign the toe joint and alleviate the pressure. We can advise you on the best treatment options available to relieve pressure on the bunion and slow the progression of the joint deformity.
Bone spurs, also known as osteophytes, can occur anywhere in the skeletal system, and the feet are no exception. Bone spurs are simply overgrowths of bone, which most commonly form where two bones come together. Normally bone spurs in the feet are painless, but when exposed to pressure, they can cause the excess bone to rub against other nerve endings or soft tissues, resulting in pain.
Causes of Bone Spurs in the Feet
When your feet are repeatedly exposed to excessive pressure and stress, a bone spur can form as a result of the body's normal response to repair itself. The following activities and conditions are common causes:
- High-impact activities, such as running
- Excessive weight
- Poor-fitting footwear
- Tightening of the plantar fasciitis due to excessive stress
Because there are no obvious symptoms associated with bone spurs in the feet, diagnosing the disorder can be difficult. Some people experience unbearable pain in particular areas of their foot when exposed to pressure, which prompts them to seek medical care. Other people can go long periods of time without realizing they even have a bone spur. An x-ray can identify a bone spur in your foot, but if it isn't causing you pain, damaging other tissues or restricting your movement, treatment probably won't be necessary.
Identifying the cause of your bone spur, such as poor-fitting shoes or weight gain, is often times enough to reduce the pressure that is causing the pain.
Conservative treatments for bone spurs include:
- Change in footwear
- Weight loss
- Padding or insoles
- Deep tissue massage and stretching
If you're experiencing chronic foot pain, schedule an appointment at our office. We'll carefully examine your feet and evaluate your symptoms to better understand your condition. If you've developed a bone spur, we can work with you to create a treatment plan that best fits your needs and puts an end to your frustrating foot pain.
Athlete's foot is one of the most common fungal infections of the skin and is frequently seen in our office. Whether you've had it or not, it's important to understand how you can avoid and treat this highly contagious infection if you do contract it.
The fungus that causes athlete's foot thrives in damp, moist environments and often grows in warm, humid climates, such as locker rooms, showers and public pools; hence the name "athlete's foot. " This infection can itch and burn causing the skin on your feet and between your toes to crack and peel.
Tips For avoiding Athlete's Foot:
- Keep your feet dry, allowing them to air out as much as possible
- Wear socks that draw moisture away from your feet and change them frequently if you perspire heavily
- Wear light, well-ventilated shoes
- Alternate pairs of shoes, allowing time for your shoes to dry each day
- Always wear waterproof shoes in public areas, such as pools, locker rooms, or communal showers
- Never borrow shoes due to the risk of spreading a fungal infection
A mild case of athlete's foot will generally clear up on its own with over-the-counter antifungal creams and sprays. But since re-infection is common due to its contagious nature, many people require prescribed anti-fungal medication to effectively treat the infection. Generally, it's always best to consult with your podiatrist before choosing a treatment.
Mild cases of athlete's foot can turn severe and even cause a serious bacterial infection. If you notice your rash has become increasingly red, swollen and painful or you develop blisters and sores, call our office right away. Athlete's foot left untreated could eventually spread to other body parts and infect other people around you.
With the right treatment, you'll be cured of your athlete's foot in no time, which means the sooner you can enjoy the activities you love without pain and irritation!
There may be no part of your body that undergoes more wear and tear than your feet. Learning how to prevent problems can stop them before they start!
At our practice, we know healthy feet makes for a happier life. The goal of this blog is to inform our patients on how to keep their feet and ankles healthy for a lifetime. We’ll provide the tools you need to stay on your feet!
Check back regularly for updates! If you’d like to subscribe to our blog, just use the ‘Subscribe to Our RSS Feed’ link at the top of the blog page with your favorite RSS reader. And, as always, feel free to contact our office with any questions or concerns.
First Foot Topic: PLANTAR FASCITIS November 4, 2011
It is now the time of the year when runners have a love hate relationship with the outdoors. Morning runs are seriously dark and uninviting. The cold weather is suggesting that we need to wear more gear (gloves, pants, hats). Not fun. However on the bright side most of us see an improvement with our performance and endurance with the decreased humidity and cooler temperatures.
Deciding on morning or late afternoon runs, often becomes a choice of safety as darkness changes the way we run. I notice that my morning times decrease with the same effort. This is mostly postural as not having the proper vision makes these runs more efensive because of road debris etc. I've always been the type of runner that wanted to get my workout over early so I could draw on the energy during the day. More importantly, many more injuries occur with this blind running in the dark. For example as a podiatrist and marathon runner, this is how I developed that awful foot condition known as plantar fascitis . This is a painful foot problem that can often become a chronic nightmare to anyone, especially runners.
Of course the traditional treatments as proposed by my education, experience, and many of my colleagues often do not cure this painful condition. My own condition slightly improved with these treatments. This included giving myself a Cortisone injection. I had only received temprary relief. It seemed when my foot was supported in a shoe with an orthotic, it felt better but would the pain woulkd still remain. That's correct the "better supportive" shoe provided more nurturing to this heel pain, but it would not relieve the pain enough for me to return back to running. I wanted this pain gone yesterday, but with support and orthotics I was not happy because the condition was at a standstill. This was March and I had this problem already 2 months, and looming ahead was the NJ (JerseyShore) Marathon on May 1, 2011. It looked as though I, the foot specialist was in trouble. I still could not run. It was time to approach this painful foot condition from another point of view. Consequently while reading a running book, Born to Run, I applied some alternative therapies to healing my plantar fascitis. These included changing some standard beliefs regarding running shoes and a more minimalist approach to walking and running. More to come!
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