September Articles 2013

Systemic Diseases of the Foot

There are several systemic diseases, or diseases that affect the whole body, that either display symptoms in the feet or affect the health of the feet. Common systemic diseases that affect the overall health of the feet, and the patient’s ability to walk comfortably, include gout, diabetes mellitus, neurological disorders, and arthritis.

In gout, which is caused by an excessive buildup of uric acid in the body, the most common symptoms of pain, inflammation, and redness occur at the metatarsal/phalangeal joint at the base of the big toe. Any excess levels of uric acid, crystallize and are deposited in tendons, joints, and surrounding bone and muscle tissue. Gout is commonly treated with NSAIDs to relieve pain and inflammation and other drugs to lower uric acid levels in the body. Gout most commonly affects those who are overweight, have low protein diets and lead a more sedentary lifestyle.

Diabetes mellitus is an increase in the level of blood sugar in which the body cannot counteract with naturally occurring insulin in the body. The three types of diabetes, Type I, Type II and Gestational Diabetes, are all signs the body is either not producing enough insulin or is not efficiently using the insulin that is produced. Gestational diabetes only affects women who are pregnant and have never, prior to pregnancy, exhibited symptoms of the disease.

There are two main issues that affect the feet that are commonly caused by diabetes. They include diabetic neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease. Diabetic neuropathy can lead to damaged nerves and affect the feet through numbness and loss of sensation. Peripheral vascular disease restricts the flow of blood to the foot and can, in extreme cases, lead to the necessity of amputating the foot. Peripheral issues that are caused by diabetes and can affect the foot include athlete’s foot, nail infections, corns, blisters, bunions, severe dry skin, plantar warts and ingrown toenails. These can all be attributed to the decrease of blood flow to the foot.

Neurological disorders and rheumatoid arthritis can also have severe impact on the health of the feet. Neurological disorders can affect the nerves in the main structure of the foot and cause loss of sensation and possible decreased muscle response. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect the bones and joint structures of the foot, making it impossible to walk normally without serious pain.

All systemic diseases that affect the foot can effectively be treated to minimize joint and muscle damage if they are diagnosed early and treated with medication and lifestyle therapy. Diabetes patients must monitor their blood sugar levels and work with their physician to keep their levels as close to normal as possible. Rheumatoid arthritis patients should work with their physician to ensure the proper medications are being taken to reduce the amount of damage to the joints of the body.


What to Know About a Broken Toe

Although most people try to avoid foot trauma such as banging, stubbing, or dropping heavy objects on their feet, the unfortunate fact is that it is a common occurrence. Given the fact that toes are positioned in front of the feet, they typically sustain the brunt of such trauma. When trauma occurs to a toe, the result can be a painful break (fracture). Another type of trauma that can break a toe is repeated activity that places stress on the toe for prolonged periods of time.

Broken toes can be categorized as either minor or severe fractures. Symptoms of minor toe fractures include throbbing pain, swelling, bruising on the skin and toenail, and the inability to move the toe with ease. Severe toe fractures require medical attention and are indicated when the broken toe appears crooked or disfigured, when there is tingling or numbness in the toe, when the injured person experiences fever or chills throughout their body, and when there is an open, bleeding wound present on the toe.

Generally, a minor toe break will heal without long-term complications, but it is important to discontinue activities that put pressure on the toe. It is best to stay off of the injured toe with the affected foot elevated on pillows. Swelling can be alleviated by placing an ice pack on the broken toe for 15 minutes every two hours during the first two days after the fracture. The broken toe should be immobilized by placing a small cotton ball between the injured toe and the toe beside it, then taping the two toes together with medical tape. 

Severe toe fractures may be treated with a splint, cast, and in some cases, minor surgery; especially when the big toe has been broken. Due to its position and the pressure it endures with daily activity, future complications can occur if the big toe is not properly treated. Pain associated with minor toe fractures can be managed with over-the-counter pain medications, and prescription pain killers may be necessary for severe toe fractures.

The healing time for a broken toe is approximately four to six weeks. In severe cases where the toe becomes infected or requires surgery, healing time can take up to eight weeks or more. While complications associated with a broken toe are immediately apparent, it is important to note that there are rare cases when additional complications, such as osteoarthritis, can develop over time.


Toenail Fungus

Toenail fungus is a frustrating and embarrassing problem for many people. It can be persistent and hard to get rid of. Thankfully, there are a number of options for treatment available.

The most effective treatment for toenail fungus is Lamisil. However, any anti-fungal treatment sold to get rid of athlete's foot can also be used. In the ingredients list on products sold to kill fungal growth on the body, look for the ingredient terbinafine. Terbinafine is a chemical product that kills fungal growths. Using a product with terbinafine in it will essentially damage the cell membrane of the fungus organism. However, don't expect immediate results. You will need to apply the medication regularly, and make sure to keep washing the affected area and drying it thoroughly. The fungus needs moisture, air and your skin to live.

Taking other precautions can also help with fungus. Use a powder such as talcum powder in the shoes to absorb sweat and moisture. It is also important to wear sandals or loose-fitting, open-toed shoes which will improve air-flow around the feet, keeping the feet dry. These kinds of shoes will also expose your feet to light, which is not favorable to fungus growth. Wearing socks that wick moisture and dry quickly will also help control fungus.

Although Lamisil and other medications containing terbinafine have been proven effective, they also cause a number of side effects which may be undesirable. If you decide that this kind of medication is not for you, there are a number of natural remedies to try. Applying alcohol, tea tree oil, hydrogen peroxide, or Vicks VapoRub to the nail regularly may solve the problem.

Your podiatrist might also recommend soaking your toenails in a gentle bleach solution. Anecdotal evidence suggests that vinegar and Listerine may also be effective when used as a soaking solution. These are simple treatments, but ones that require patience and consistency. There are also topical products available from your pharmacy which is manufactured especially for toenail fungus.

There are more immediate treatments for toenail fungus available using laser surgery. If you are looking for an immediate and quick removal of the toenail fungus, you will need to find a laser surgeon who can cut the growth out of your toenail. Don't try to cut the toenail fungus out using toenail scissors or other kinds of scissors. Once you get rid of your fungus infection, you will need to throw out your old shoes to avoid reinfection.


Getting Back into Sports after Foot and Ankle Injuries

Sprained ankles are one of the most common injuries athletes undergo. Anyone who sprains their ankle knows it is a very painful-and frustrating-problem, as it causes the victim to miss out on participating in their favorite sport. It also causes a higher likelihood of re-injury once an ankle is sprained.

In order to get back into sports after incurring a sprained ankle, it is best to follow the RICE method, recommended by sports medicine doctors and physical therapists alike. RICE consists of rest, ice, compression and elevation. In addition, athletes should consider wearing an ankle brace in order to minimize the pain and keep the ankle safe and stabilized as it heals. This combination can serve to get athletes back on the playing field in no time.

Fractures occurring in the foot and ankle are another common injury many athletes face. Stress fractures occur when an athlete suddenly increases his or her athletic training. These stress fractures come in two types, stable and displaced. Stable stress fractures involve no shifting in bone alignment while displaced stress fractures involve mismatched bone ends that no longer line up.

Athletes should see a doctor immediately if he or she suffers a stress fracture. Usually treatment involves plenty of rest, including refraining from the sport that caused the injury in addition to any strenuous activities.

Athletes need to care for the treatment processes when it comes to foot and ankle injuries. Take time to rest before hitting the field. The more an athlete invests in their treatment and recovery process, the faster he or she will be able to return to their passion with full athletic performance.
 


Working on Your Feet

Overworking your feet can put stress on your entire body, so taking care of your feet is an absolute priority for overall good health. Standing all day can cause a myriad of different conditions such as bunions, callouses, and plantar warts. These conditions are all very painful but can be avoided with proper foot care, which includes both proper posture and good shoe choices to contribute to the overall health of your feet.

A good place to start is choosing a show that has a negative heel which places the heel slightly lower than the ball of the foot, as shoes designed this way are best for your foot health. Having a job that keeps you on your feet all day makes it an especially a good idea to spend the extra money on a good pair of shoes. And most definitely purchase your shoes from a reputable manufacturer who puts foot health at the forefront of their goals. Having a job that keeps you on your feet all day makes it an especially a good idea to spend the extra money on a good pair of shoes.

The feet were not designed to be enclosed for hours on end. In fact, incorporating some "barefoot" time into your daily routine is not a bad idea to improve overall foot health. There are some other simple things that you can do to help alleviate pain and pressure on the feet from standing all day.

One of the first things you can do is perform some simple foot exercises and some common yoga moves to improve the function of your feet. Foot work outs that aid in your movement will stimulate blood flow and muscles of your feet. Yoga exercises that stretch your feet out flat on the floor can be very beneficial for you if you work on your feet all day. It can also help stretch and relax the calf muscles and Achilles tendon, both of which can become problem areas if not taken care of. You can perform these exercises every day during your daily routine, at the office, at the gym, or even before you go to bed simply stretching your feet out can do wonders for your foot health.

Foot pain that occurs every day because you work for long hours on your feet may lead you to think that this pain is inevitable. However, it does not have to be. Foot stretches and proper footwear work well in alleviating foot pain and preventing further foot problems.

With a little effort and some education, you can keep your feet healthy and feeling good. If your feet hurt, your whole body will eventually feel the effects over time. Start taking care of your feet today!

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Foot Care Associates of Texas

281-540-1444
23972 Highway 59 N Kingwood, TX 77339-1535