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Posts for category: Foot Condition

By Esther Sue Barnes, DPM, AACFAS
July 03, 2019
Category: Foot Condition
Tags: Hammertoes  

A hammertoe is a common foot deformity that affects the middle joint of the smaller toes. As a result, this causes the toes to bend downward. Since this bend causes the joint to stick out this can put more pressure on the affected joints when wearing shoes, which can also make the deformity worse over time. As with most foot deformities a hammertoe will start out minor and continue to progress over time if left untreated.

During the earlier stages you may not notice much pain and discomfort. In fact the only way you may be able to tell that you have a hammertoe is by examining the foot and noticing that the small toes bend downward like a claw. Of course, at this stage the deformed joint is still flexible enough to be straightened out.

However, if the deformity progresses this can cause the joint to become rigid, which won’t respond effectively to simple conservative treatments. As you might imagine, the sooner you see a podiatrist to treat your hammertoe the better. Early intervention is key, as a hammertoe will not get better without the proper care.

Hammertoes are often the result of an imbalance in the muscle or tendon of the foot. Over time, this leads to structural changes in the foot. Genetics may also play a role in whether your feet are at risk for this deformity. A hammertoe can also be made worse by wearing shoes that are too tight and put too much pressure on the toes.

Along with the structural changes that occur with hammertoes it’s also common to experience redness, inflammation or the development of a corn or callus on the toe. If you are noticing symptoms of a hammertoe see your podiatrist for an evaluation. A simple physical exam is usually all that’s needed to diagnose a hammertoe; however, sometimes an x-ray will be performed in order to determine the extent of the deformity.

If you are dealing with a flexible hammertoe, more often than not simple nonsurgical treatment options are all that’s needed. Following simple treatment options and care can prevent the hammertoes from becoming rigid or painful. Some nonsurgical treatment options include:

  • Wearing the appropriate footwear. This means wearing shoes that aren’t pointy or have high heels, which can put more pressure on the toes.
  • Placing custom orthotics into your shoes, which can ease discomfort and prevent pain resulting in a muscular imbalance.
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, which can reduce both pain and inflammation.
  • Splinting the toe or toes to keep them straight, which can also reduce stiffness, inflammation and pain.
  • Applying protective non-medicated padding over the top of the toe to prevent a corn or callus from developing.

If your hammertoe is painful or rigid then you may need to discuss whether surgery is the best option for alleviating your symptom and correcting the deformity. If you are dealing with a hammertoe turn to a foot specialist for help.

By Esther Sue Barnes, DPM, AACFAS
June 03, 2019
Category: Foot Condition
Tags: Diabetic Feet  

Diabetic feet need special care because of decreased circulation, neuropathy, joint deterioration, and more. While your primary care physician may guide you on blood sugar control, medications, a healthy diet, and active lifestyle, your podiatrist assesses and treats how your feet and ankles function everyday and for the long term. Enlist their help in the health maintenance of your diabetic feet.

Keeping ahead of neuropathy and avoiding amputation

Those are two key goals of diabetic foot care. Your podiatrist will want to see you regularly to assess the color, temperature, sensation, function, and shape of your feet and ankles, noting any developing problems. Early detection of circulation issues, nerve degeneration (neuropathy), and deformities, such as hammertoes, bunions, and Charcot Foot, are key.

Your podiatric foot examination will include an eye-on inspection of your skin (color, temperature, texture, and integrity). Your foot doctor also may perform gait analysis to watch for changes in how you walk. Sometimes a podiatrist orders X-ray imaging or an MRI to view the internal structure of the foot and/or ankle.

Remember, that foot ulcers are the primary threat to the overall health and well-being of the diabetic, says the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Untreated, they may lead to complications so severe amputation is the only option.

What can you do to treat your diabetic feet?

  1. Be proactive. Inspect your feet daily, looking redness or skin breakdown.
  2. Wash and dry your feet daily.
  3. Trim your toenails carefully using a clean clippers. Trim straight across and not too short to avoid ingrown toenails.
  4. Wear shoes at all times--even indoors--to avoid injury.
  5. Wear clean, well-fitting, moisture-wicking socks.
  6. Keep your weight and blood sugars within normal range.
  7. Get in-office treatment of calluses and corns, says the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.
  8. Avoid all forms of tobacco.
  9. Report any changes to your foot doctor as soon as possible.
  10. See your podiatrist every six months or as he or she directs.

Healthy feet and a healthy you

Podiatric health is so important, but especially to the diabetic. So stay in touch with your foot doctor, and be routinized in your foot care for better long-term health.

By Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Clinic, P.C.
March 06, 2019
Category: Foot Condition
Is heel pain keeping you down? Pain that occurs following an injury or early in an illness may play a protective role, warning us about the damage we have suffered. SoYour Heel Pain Could Be Plantar Fasciitis what causes heel pain?
 
Plantar fasciitis is a foot condition in which a band of tissue in the sole of the foot becomes inflamed, leading to severe heel pain. The pain can be so bad that it hurts to walk, much less exercise or perform daily activities. If one step causes shooting pain in your heel—especially when you first get out of bed in the morning or stand up after sitting for a long period of time—plantar fasciitis may be to blame. Contact your podiatrist immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment of your pain. 
 

Understanding Heel Pain with Help from Your Podiatrist

Plantar fasciitis, or heel pain, occurs when the plantar fascia is strained over time beyond its normal extension. This causes the soft tissue fibers of the fascia to tear or stretch at points along its length, leading to inflammation, pain and possibly the growth of a bone spur where it attaches to the heel bone.
 
Inflammation may become irritated by shoes that lack appropriate support, mainly in the arch area and by the constant irritation associated with an athletic lifestyle. Resting may provide temporary relief, but when you resume walking you may experience a sudden elongation of the fascia band, which stretches and pulls on the heel. As you walk the pain may lessen or even disappear, but that may just be a false sense of relief, as the pain will often return after prolonged rest or extensive walking.  
 
You can take steps now to avoid heel pain, including:
  • Wear shoes that fit well
  • Wear proper shoes for each activity
  • Do not wear shoes with excessive wear on heels or soles
  • Prepare properly before exercising by stretching and warming up
  • Pace yourself when you participate in athletic activities
  • Don’t underestimate your body’s need for rest and good nutrition
  • Lose excess weight
If pain and other symptoms of inflammation persist, you should limit your normal daily activities and contact your podiatrist immediately.  
By Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Clinic, P.C.
February 19, 2019
Category: Foot Condition
Tags: Corns  

Many people think corns and calluses are the same thing, but there are differences. A corn is smaller than a callus, and has a hard center which is surrounded by inflamed tissue. Unlike calluses, corns can be painful and make it difficult to wear shoes. The good news is, your podiatrist can help get rid of corns and get you back on your feet.

Corns typically develop to protect your feet and toes from friction and pressure. They can be found in both weight bearing and non-weight bearing areas including between your toes, and on the tops and sides of your toes.

According to the Mayo Clinic, common signs and symptoms of a corn include:

  • A thick, rough area of skin
  • A hardened, raised bump
  • Tenderness or pain under the skin

Since corns are caused by friction and pressure, you can do a lot to prevent corn development. Remember to:

  • Wear shoes with plenty of room for your toes
  • Use padding or bandages in your shoes
  • Soak your feet in warm water to soften corns
  • After soaking, rub the corn with a pumice stone to remove hardened skin
  • Moisturize your feet every day to keep your skin soft

If you have diabetes and you develop a corn or other foot problem, you need the help of an expert, your podiatrist. Self-treating foot issues when you are diabetic can lead to injuries that don’t heal and could get worse, resulting in a serious infection.

Fortunately, your podiatrist can recommend several treatment options to get rid of corns, including:

  • Trimming away excess skin to reduce friction
  • Corn-removing medication containing salicylic acid
  • Custom-fit inserts or orthotics
  • Surgery if the corn is caused from friction due to poor bone alignment

You don’t have to deal with painful corns by yourself. Get some relief from the pain by visiting your podiatrist. Your feet are important, so seek out the best care possible to protect your feet.

By Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Clinic, P.C.
November 06, 2018
Category: Foot Condition
Tags: Bunions  

As common as bunions are, it is difficult for patients to get used to them. If you are dealing with the discomfort that comes with bunions, don’t hesitate to seek assistance from podiatrist Dr. Esther Barnes at Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Clinic in Kalispell, MT. Successful treatment for bunions requires time, patience, and a customized plan that’s tailored to your specific case.

Dealing with Bunions
Bunions change your feet: the way they look, feel, and fit in shoes. They affect the way that you walk and how you regard the visual appeal of your feet and toes. They cause the toes to push and pinch against each other, and eventually overlap. Some patients live with bunions for years without pain, but that can change with time—especially since the joints in the feet and toes are affected. The skin can become irritated and calluses may form. Even if pain isn’t present, the embarrassment of this foot deformity is enough to prompt patients to seek treatment.

Is There a Cure for Bunions?
Bunions can be corrected with the help of your Kalispell, MT podiatrist and a dedicated treatment plan. These are some of the most reliable ways to fix bunions:

- Padding made of felt to guard the feet when wearing shoes and prevent friction
- Pads placed between the toes to help restore alignment
- Corn or callus removal
- Wearing orthotics that encourage the bone and joint to realign
- Physical therapy and special exercises
- Night splinting
- Bunionectomy (surgery to eliminate bunions)

Bunion Prevention
Bunions do not form overnight, they develop over a course of time and due to certain behaviors, habits, and activities. After your feet are restored, observe these prevention tips to increase your chance of avoiding this foot problem in the future:

- Get more comfortable shoes that don’t put too much pressure on your toes
- Stretch your feet and toes regularly, especially when resting
- Protect your bone health by eating calcium rich foods
- See your podiatrist at the first signs of foot pain or a change in the general form of your feet

Quality Care for Your Feet
It’s not normal to live with your feet deformed and painful because of bunions. Seek treatment from podiatrist Dr. Esther Barnes at Step Ahead Foot & Clinic, in Kalispell, MT. Call 406-755-2818 today to schedule a foot examination with Dr. Esther Barnes.



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