Dr Jim's Blog

Posts for category: Foot Conditions

By JAMES DONOVAN, D.P.M.
November 03, 2017
Category: Foot Conditions
Tags: Metatarsalgia  

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 effective and pain persists, visit our practice for a full exam and a proper diagnosis. In most cases, metatarsalgia can be treated non-surgically. An experienced podiatrist may prescribe specially-designed orthotics or shock-absorbing insoles and arch supports to prevent and minimize future problems with metatarsalgia.

By JAMES DONOVAN, D.P.M.
September 08, 2017
Category: Foot Conditions
Tags: Hammertoes  

HammertoesA 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.

By JAMES DONOVAN, D.P.M.
August 01, 2017
Category: Foot Conditions
Tags: Growing Pains  

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
  • Limping
  • Fever
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • 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.

By JAMES DONOVAN, D.P.M.
March 01, 2017
Category: Foot Conditions
Tags: Corns   Calluses  

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.

By JAMES DONOVAN, D.P.M.
January 03, 2017
Category: Foot Conditions
Tags: Bone Spurs  

Bone SpursBone 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
  • Aging

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.