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Posts for category: Foot Care

By Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Clinic, PC
March 03, 2020
Category: Foot Care

Did you know that the metatarsals, or bones in the foot, are the most commonly broken bones in the human body? These long bones run the length of the foot and a fractured metatarsal means that there is a break in at least one of these five bones (the fifth metatarsal is the most commonly fractured metatarsal bone). If you suspect that you’ve broken a bone in your foot it’s important that you see a podiatrist right away.

Broken metatarsals most commonly occur as a result of a sports injury; however, this fracture can also occur over time due to overuse and wear (this is commonly known as a stress fracture). Dropping a heavy item on the foot or experiencing a bad fall can also cause broken metatarsals. Signs and symptoms of a broken toe caused by trauma to the foot include:

  • Hearing a snapping or popping sound at the moment of injury
  • Severe and sudden pain in the toe immediately after impact or trauma
  • Bruising or swelling of the toe (this may not appear until the day after the injury)
  • Changes in the alignment or appearance of your toe

Symptoms of a stress fracture will be a bit different from traumatic fractures. Since stress fractures occur over time as a result of overuse you may start to notice foot pain with your routine activities or pain that goes away with rest but is exacerbated by physical activity. A metatarsal that has sustained a stress fracture may also be tender to the touch.

Some people assume that if they can walk on their foot then they must not be dealing with a broken metatarsal, but this is simply not true. This is why it’s always best to play it safe and to schedule an immediate evaluation with a foot and ankle specialist if you have experienced a traumatic foot injury that you suspect has led to one or more broken metatarsals. Not treating the broken bone could lead to certain deformities, which can greatly impact mobility. You may also experience chronic pain or be at an increased risk for arthritis.

Treating Broken Metatarsals

Common ways to treat a traumatic fracture include rest, splinting, or tapping toe affected toe, custom-made shoe inserts and wearing rigid footwear such as a special boot or shoe that provides the foot with protection, support, and cushioning.

If the break is severe enough your podiatrist may recommend surgery, but surgery is rarely necessary for treating broken toes. Those with stress fractures will want to avoid any activity that causes repetitive stress on the foot, to prevent the stress fracture from getting worse.

If you are experiencing symptoms of a broken bone after a fall, accident or injury then it’s time to schedule an immediate appointment with a podiatrist. The sooner you seek treatment the sooner you can begin your road to recovery.

By Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Clinic, PC
February 20, 2020
Category: Foot Care
Tags: Orthotics   Foot  

Foot orthotics are shoe inserts that a doctor custom-makes for you to address your podiatric concerns. Here at Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Clinic Kalispell, MT, your podiatrist, Dr. Esther Barnes, offers full-service, state-of-the-art podiatric care to patients so they can enjoy a fuller, happier life. Read on to explore some of the benefits of this treatment option:

1. They will change the way you walk: Orthotics work to improve your body's posture and alignment, thus changing both the position of your joints, as well as your muscle balance and stability.

2. They can prevent serious foot problems: Sometimes, diabetics can lose sensation in their feet, a condition known as diabetic neuropathy. When this occurs, orthotic devices can help to reduce pressure and excess stress that can lead to foot problems.

3. They can help people with high arches: High arches can stress muscles in your feet and lead to a range of problems, such as plantar fasciitis, foot pain, knee pain, and shin splints. Custom orthotic devices provide support for high arches and help prevent foot problems.

4. They can help you heal from an injury: Orthotic devices are often used to treat injuries such as shin splints or tendinitis. People who’ve experienced trauma to their ankles and feet ankles may require extra support during the healing process with orthotic devices.

5. They can alleviate your discomfort: Your feet are not supposed to hurt. Custom foot orthotics can prevent injuries and improve foot function, all of which mean less foot pain. Orthotic devices prescribed by a podiatrist address the cause of your discomfort so that you can feel comfortable. Schedlue a consultation at our Kalispell, MT, office to find out if custom foot orthotics are right for you.

Foot orthotics will keep your feet healthy and happy for years to come. Call Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Clinic in Kalispell, MT, at 406-755-2818 right now to schedule a consultation. You deserve healthy, happy feet!

By Esther Sue Barnes, DPM, AACFAS
September 17, 2019
Category: Foot Care
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 Esther Sue Barnes, DPM, AACFAS
September 10, 2019
Category: Foot Care
Tags: Foot Odor  

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!

By Esther Sue Barnes, DPM, AACFAS
June 19, 2019
Category: Foot Care
Tags: Flat Feet  

While there are many people with flat feet, often times they won’t even know it; however, there are others with flat feet that regularly experience pain, soreness, and other problems. While flat feet is rarely considered a serious issue, if you are dealing with problems as a result of your flat feet it’s important that you turn to a podiatrist who can offer up ways to prevent problems.

How to tell if you have flat feet

If the arches of your feet touch the floor when you stand then you have flat feet. The arches of our feet don’t actually develop until around the age of six; however, sometimes flat feet develop due to injury or repeated stress on the feet.

Symptoms of flat feet

The most common symptom of flat feet is foot pain that originates in the heels and arches. You may find that the pain gets worse when standing or moving for long periods of time. Those who are physically active may experience pain more regularly. Sometime swelling on the inside of the foot or ankle may also occur.

Potential complications of flat feet

Since flat feet can be responsible for misalignments, this can lead to ankle and knee problems. If you are noticing foot, ankle, knee, hip, or lower back pain then you will want to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist to find out what’s going on.

Treating flat feet

If you aren’t experiencing pain or other issues then you won’t require any treatment for your flat feet. While we can’t fix flat feet our podiatrist can provide you with simple solutions to reduce pain and discomfort associated with faulty biomechanics within the feet. Common ways to prevent flat foot-related pain include:

  • Using arch supports in your shoes, which can take pressure off the arches and provide cushioning and support when standing or moving.
  • Performing certain stretching exercises prescribed by a podiatrist. There are specific exercises designed to stretch the Achilles tendon to alleviate and prevent foot pain.
  • Wearing the appropriate footwear that provides further arch support. Shoes that are old and worn, as well as certain styles such as sandals or flip-flops won’t provide your feet with the proper support they need.
  • Undergoing physical therapy if you are dealing with foot pain due to overuse injuries, which is common among athletes. Physical therapy can help strengthen certain ligaments, tendons and muscles of the feet and ankles to prevent excessive wear and tear, as well as pain and soreness in the arches and heels.

If you are dealing with pain due to flat feet and can’t seem to get your discomfort under control then you will want to talk with a podiatrist who can recommend certain exercises, proper footwear, and custom orthotics to improve the health of your feet. Talk to a podiatrist today.



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UPDATE 3/23/20: In attempt to maintain the safety of our patients, employees, and the community, the office is physically closed, other than for the care of patients with urgent concerns / emergenices only. Attempts will be made to return phone calls Monday through Thursday from 9AM to 1PM. Please use the "Request an Appointment" resource above to request an appointment. If an established patient, we encourage you to log into the Patient Portal and send a message to Dr. Barnes or the office with any questions or concerns. Thank you.