Posts for category: Podiatry
Heel pain is a common foot problem that podiatrists often treat. Knowing the cause of your pain is important in determining the most effective treatment method. Even if the pain seems minor, it’s amazing how much it can affect your whole body, making it difficult to get out of bed let alone go on your regular run. If you are struggling with heel pain you might be dealing with a condition known as plantar fasciitis.
What is plantar fasciitis?
The source of your pain may originate in the plantar fascia, a tough band of connective tissue that connects your toes to your feet. If the fascia becomes inflamed, you may feel pain in your heel. Of course, everything from wearing high heels to long runs can actually irritate and cause inflammation within the plantar fascia. When this happens this is known as plantar fasciitis. This condition is usually the result of overuse and repeated stress rather than an injury.
What are the symptoms of plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis causes heel pain that originates at the bottom of the heel below the heel bone. The pain may spread to the arches of the feet and may also be accompanied by stiffness. These symptoms are often exacerbated first thing in the morning or after long bouts of sitting or standing. Sometimes, light activity and exercise can momentarily lessen the pain.
How is plantar fasciitis treated?
If you know that you have plantar fasciitis (perhaps you’ve had it before) then you know it’s important to rest, avoid physical activity, and take over-the-counter pain relievers. Of course, if you’ve never experienced heel pain before it’s important to see a podiatrist to find out whether it’s plantar fasciitis or another condition such as heel spurs or Achilles tendonitis. A thorough evaluation from a medical professional is often necessary, especially if this is the first time dealing with heel pain.
Your podiatrist can also show you stretching and strengthening exercises that you can perform to help stretch the plantar fascia to reduce pain and discomfort. Some patients also choose to wear a night splint to reduce morning stiffness and arch pain.
If your symptoms aren’t being alleviated through conservative treatment methods or if you are experiencing chronic heel pain your podiatrist may recommend surgery.
If you are dealing with stubborn and painful heels turn to a podiatrist for a consultation.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a condition that often affects blood flow to the legs due to narrowing of the arteries. PAD is caused by atherosclerosis, a serious condition in which fat deposits known as plaques build up in the arteries and eventually restrict or block blood flow.
If you have PAD you will most likely experience painful cramping, weakness or numbness in the legs, particularly during movement. You may also notice that the leg or foot is colder than the rest of your body. Sometimes persistent sores can develop that won’t heal. Your legs may also change color or the skin may appear shiny. While the pain will often go away at rest, if PAD is left untreated you may notice these symptoms even at rest. Sometimes symptoms can even be bad enough to affect your sleep.
While these symptoms can also be indicative of other conditions you should not ignore your symptoms, as undiagnosed PAD can lead to heart attack or stroke. This is why it’s important to see your podiatrist if you notice leg or foot numbness, weakness, tingling or pain.
You may be at an increased risk for peripheral artery disease if you:
- Are obese
- Have high cholesterol
- Have high blood pressure
- Have diabetes
- Are over age 65
- Have a family history of peripheral artery disease or stroke
Preventing Peripheral Artery Disease
Your podiatrist’s goal is to reduce your risk for peripheral artery disease, especially if you are at an increased risk. This involves implementing a variety of lifestyle changes. Some ways to prevent PAD include:
- Getting your diabetes under control
- Lowering your cholesterol
- Exercising regularly several times a week
- Quitting smoking
- Eating a healthy balanced diet and avoiding junk foods
- Losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight
Treating Peripheral Artery Disease
If you do end up developing PAD a podiatrist can be an instrumental part of your medical team to help you manage your symptoms and prevent complications. PAD treatments are designed to reduce symptoms such as leg pain while also stopping the buildup of fat deposits within the arteries.
Again, modifying your lifestyle can greatly improve your condition. The same lifestyle changes that prevent PAD can also treat PAD. Of course, lifestyle modifications alone won’t be enough to prevent atherosclerosis from progressing. Therefore, your podiatrist may also prescribe certain medications including cholesterol and blood pressure medications, diabetes medication, and medication that prevents blood clots. Sometimes surgery or angioplasty is recommended if there is a blockage within the arteries.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of PAD it’s important that you turn to a podiatrist right away for an evaluation.
Oddly enough, there are a lot of Old Wives Tales and folk remedies surrounding warts. Perhaps you’ve even heard of some one them; however, if you end up dealing with one or clusters of these hard, skin-colored bumps you may be wondering how you got them and how to treat them. If you develop warts, particularly on the soles of your feet, this is something that your podiatrist can help you treat.
What are plantar warts?
All warts are the result of a virus that invades the skin through cuts or tiny open wounds. Warts, especially on the feet, can be mistaken for a corn or callus; however, unlike corns or calluses that often go away in a couple of weeks, it can take years for a wart to go away. During this time, warts can also spread to other areas of the body including the hands and face.
How do I know that I have plantar warts?
If you’ve never had a wart before you may not be able to distinguish this growth from other common foot problems. This is where a podiatrist can help. A foot doctor can diagnose warts through a simple physical exam. Plantar warts can cause pain, particularly when standing or walking. Patients who have diabetes or circulation problems in their feet should seek immediate medical care if they develop warts or experience any changes in their feet.
How are plantar warts treated?
While warts can go away on their own this can usually take years for the body to fight off the viral infection. Since plantar warts can be uncomfortable or even painful many people turn to a podiatrist to treat warts. The type of treatment that your foot doctor will recommend will depend on the size, amount and location of the wart or warts. Common wart treatments include:
- Medication: a special acid-based medication (e.g. salicylic acid) is applied to the skin where the acid will break down the wart. Several applications may be required over the course of several weeks in order to get rid of the wart.
- Freezing: sometimes warts can be frozen off through a procedure known as cryotherapy
- Curettage: this is the surgical removal of a wart using a special scalpel (local anesthesia is applied to the area to numb it before treatment)
- Laser: laser treatment can also be used to breakdown and destroy the wart
It’s important to protect your feet from potential reinfection. If you are prone to developing plantar warts then talk with your podiatrist about measures you can take to keep your feet healthy and free from infection.
One wrong step and you could just end up dealing with a sprained ankle. A sprain occurs when the ankle suddenly rolls inwards or outwards, which jolts the ankle joint out of place and also overstretches (and perhaps even tears) the ligaments and tendons of the ankles. These tendons also provide the feet with support. It’s important to understand how to best care for a sprained ankle and when you should see a podiatrist for care.
You could be dealing with an ankle sprain if you experience:
- Ankle pain
- Limited range of motion
- Trouble putting weight on the ankle
If you suspect that you have sprained your ankle it’s important to call your podiatrist right away. A foot doctor will be able to discuss your symptoms with you and then determine whether you should come in for an immediate evaluation. A doctor will also provide you with a comprehensive treatment plan that will promote a fast and complete recovery.
There are different degrees of a sprain and the way your podiatrist recommends treating the injury will depend on its severity and the symptoms you are experiencing. Mild sprains can often be managed with simple home treatment. This includes resting and staying off the ankle as much as possible as well as:
- Bandaging or wrapping the ankle
- Wearing an ankle braces
- Using crutches (for more serious sprains)
- Elevating your ankle to reduce swelling
- Stretching and strengthening exercises
- Taking pain relievers like ibuprofen to reduce pain and swelling
- Not putting weight on the ankle
- Icing the ankle 20-30 minutes, 3-4 times a day (for the first 48 hours after injury)
It can take up to 10 days for a mild sprain to heal, while more severe sprains can take several weeks. When you come into the office for an evaluation, your podiatrist will also discuss how long you should stay off the ankle and avoid certain activities.
It is rare for a sprained ankle to require surgery; however, if there is significant damage to the ligaments that could lead to long-term instability and other issues, or if your symptoms do not improve with home care, then your foot and ankle doctor may recommend surgery to repair the torn ligament.
With proper and prompt care an ankle sprain should heal completely and not require additional treatment; however, the minute you experience symptoms of a sprained ankle or ankle injury you should see your podiatrist as soon as possible.
An ingrown toenail is a common foot problem that occurs when the corner of a toenail, usually the big toe, grows into the skin. As you might imagine, this can cause pain and swelling in the affected area. If you are a healthy individual you can often treat the ingrown toenail with simple at-home care; however, patients with diabetes, nerve damage in the feet or signs of a foot infection should always see a podiatrist as soon as possible.
Causes of an Ingrown Toenail
There are several factors that could increase your risk for developing an ingrown toenail. These include:
- Heredity: if your family has a history of ingrown toenails you may be more likely to develop them, too.
- Poorly fitted shoes: shoes that are too tight and cramp up the toes can also cause painful ingrown toenails, particularly in teens whose feet are still growing rapidly
- Improper nail trimming: if you cut your nails too short or if you cut them at an angle rather than cutting them straight across you could be leaving yourself prone to an ingrown toenail
- Injury to the toe: jamming or stubbing the toe can also increase the risk of an ingrown toenail (this is most common in athletes)
Treating an Ingrown Toenail
If there are no signs of an infection (e.g. foul odor; skin that’s hot to the touch) and you are otherwise healthy then you can probably treat the ingrown toenail all by yourself from the comfort of your home. Take frequent Epsom salt soaks and apply an antibiotic cream to the area to prevent infection. Again, if there is no infection you can soak nails for several minutes so that they soften, and then gently clip away the affected area of the nail.
If you are experiencing signs of an infected ingrown toenail or if you have diabetes and develop an ingrown toenail it’s important that you seek a podiatrist’s care right away. A podiatrist can treat the infection while also removing part of or the entire nail so that it grows in properly.
Preventing Ingrown Toenails
While there are certain factors such as heredity that cannot be helped, there are certainly measures you can take to reduce your risk for ingrown toenails. For one, always make sure that you wear properly fitted shoes that do not put pressure on the toes.
Secondly and most importantly, you need to know how to properly trim your toenails. Nails should be level with the tips of your toes. If nails are cut too short or if you trim your nails so they are curved at the edges rather than straight then an ingrown toenail is more likely to develop as the nail grows out.
Athletes should also make sure that they are wearing appropriate footwear for their chosen sport. Not all tennis shoes are created equally so if you have any questions about the footwear that you should wear, don’t hesitate to speak with your foot doctor.
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.
TeleHealth and Tele-Visits in the time of COVID-19
Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Clinic, PC has initiated a TeleHealth Service during the COVID-19 Pandemic for a number of reasons:
1.) Our top priority has always been, and continues to be, Patient, Employee, Community Health and Safety.
2.) With the primary goal of triaging, or prioritizing what's urgent and what's not, Dr. Barnes seeks to help patients with the foot concerns over the phone or computer. Caring for patients in this way, and arranging for visits in clinic if necessary (infections, ulcerations, injuries) and in a controlled environment, she hopes to do her part in allowing to the Urgent Cares and Emergencies Rooms help those with needs related to the virus.
3.) Although Dr. Barnes obviously cannot physicially treat you or other patients over the phone or computer, she can hopefully see if your concern would be best treated physically, and arrange for this to be done. If she can help give you direction and advice over the computer or phone, she will do so. This particularly applies to you if you have foot pain, as many treatment options can be relayed in this way (stretches, shoe recommendations, orthotic recommendations).
4.) During this time of anxiety, stress, and uncertainty, Dr. Barnes wants to do her part in helping you do the things you need to do (caring for a loved one, running outside for stress relief, or walking on a treadmill at home, for example) without foot pain interfering. She does't want you to have to wait months or an indefinite period of time for you to get back on your feet! "CLICK HERE TO REQUEST A TELEVISIT."