Understanding Heel Pain with Help from Your Podiatrist
- 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
Heel pain is one of the most common complaints a podiatrist hears about from patients. If you are dealing with heel pain above the heel bone then you could be dealing with Achilles Tendonitis, a result of overuse. The Achilles tendon is the longest tendon in the body and it serves to connect the muscles of the calf with the lower leg and heel bone.
While Achilles Tendonitis tends to occur most often in runners, this condition can still occur in athletes that play certain sports such as soccer or tennis. Unfortunately, this tendon does weaken as we get older, which makes at an increased risk for developing this overuse injury as we age.
What are the symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis?
The most obvious symptom of Achilles Tendonitis is pain above the heel bone. When the pain first appears it’s usually pretty mild and you may only notice it after running; however, over time you may notice that the pain gets worse after certain exercises. Along with pain you may also experience stiffness or tenderness in the heel, especially in the morning or after long periods of sitting.
When should I see a podiatrist?
If this is the first time that you’ve ever experienced heel pain then it’s a good idea to turn to a foot doctor who can determine whether Achilles Tendonitis is causing your symptoms or whether it’s something else. If you’re experiencing chronic heel pain around the Achilles tendon it’s also a good time to see a doctor. If the pain is severe or you are unable to put weight on your foot it’s possible that you might be dealing with a ruptured tendon, which requires immediate attention.
How do you treat Achilles Tendonitis?
In most cases, Achilles Tendonitis can be treated with simple self-care options. Unless symptoms are severe you may be able to treat your heel pain by:
- Taking over-the-counter pain medications
- Avoiding high-impact activities or activities that exacerbate symptoms
- Elevating the foot to reduce swelling
- Performing stretching exercises or undergoing physical therapy
- Icing the heel
- Wearing custom orthotics
- Replacing worn-out shoes, especially running shoes
Surgery is only necessary if your symptoms aren’t responding to any other nonsurgical treatment options after several months or if the tendon is torn.
If you think your heel pain could be the result of Achilles Tendonitis then it’s time to turn to a podiatrist as soon as possible. A podiatrist can provide you with a variety of treatment options, from simple lifestyle modifications to custom orthotics.
What is a Crush Injury?
Have a foot crush injury? A crush injury occurs when pressure or force is put on a body part. A foot crush injury may cause pain, swelling, and sometimes bruising. A foot crush injury may take from a few days to a few weeks to heal. If you have a foot crush injury, you should see a podiatrist. Podiatrists diagnose and treat foot and ankle conditions and injuries. Read on to learn more about foot crush injuries.
Overview- A crush injury is an injury that occurs when a body part sustains intense pressure. Minor crush injuries can be caused by dropping a heavy object on a foot. However, major crush injuries, such as those sustained in vehicle accidents, can cause serious problems. Such an injury can cause a number of issues, including pain, swelling, bruising, bleeding, laceration, fracture, and nerve injury. A crush injury can also cause compartment syndrome, which is a dangerous condition caused by pressure buildup from swelling of tissues or internal bleeding.
Causes- The primary causes of foot crush injuries include heavy falling objects, vehicles rolling over the foot, and injuries from industrial manufacturing equipment. Crush injuries are common on farms. The most serious cases occur in agriculture where heavy machinery is used and people become trapped in them or under them. This form of injury is common after some form of trauma from a deliberate attack or following a natural disaster.
Diagnosis- A proper diagnosis is key to treating a foot crush injury. Your podiatrist can accurately assess your situation and help you make the right treatment decisions for the best possible outcome. Your doctor will start with a physical exam, with attention given to the areas of complaint. Your podiatrist may take X-rays and other forms of imaging, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computerized tomography (CT).
Treatment- Firstly, any wounds that are present will need to be cleaned and bandaged to prevent infection. Treatments for a foot crush injury may also include medication, casting, kinesiology taping, ice and heat, physical therapy, or surgery. Often more than one of these treatments are used. Crush injuries of the foot are very serious. Potentially devastating complications can occur if these injuries are underestimated or mismanaged.
A foot crush injury can affect your day-to-day activities and make your life miserable. Whether your goal is getting back to the work, the gym, hobbies, or just enjoying life, a podiatrist can help. If you want to feel better and live well, find a podiatrist near you and schedule an appointment.
What is Sesamoiditis?
Sesamoids are small bones that are only connected to tendons or surrounded in muscle. This only appears in a few places in the body, one of which is the foot. Two very tiny sesamoids are found in the underside of the foot near the big toe. One is on the outer side of the foot and the other bone is close to the middle of the foot. This structure provides a smooth surface for the tendons to slide over, which helps the tendons move muscles. They help with weight bearing and also help to elevate the bones of the big toe. So now that you know what sesamoids are, you might be wondering what sesamoiditis is and what its symptoms are.
Just like any other bone, sesamoids can unfortunately fracture. The tendons surrounding the sesamoids may also become irritated or inflamed and this is what sesamoiditis is. Sesamoiditis is also a form of tendonitis and is a common condition among ballerinas, runners, and baseball catchers due to the pressure that is constantly placed on their feet.
Symptoms of Sesamoiditis
Symptoms of Sesamoiditis may include:
Pain under the big toe or ball of the foot
Swelling and/or bruising
Difficulty in bending and straightening the big toe
Resting and stopping any activity that could be causing pain and inflammation
Anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen and aspirin only after consulting your physician
Icing the sole of the foot
Wearing soft-soled and low-heeled shoes
Cushioning inserts in the shoes
If symptoms persist after treatments, you may need to wear a removable brace for 4-6 weeks to help the bones heal. Call your podiatrist today to ask any questions about sesamoiditis and get on your way to pain-free feet once again!
Treating toenail fungus
Toenail fungus--it's one of the most common podiatric problems children, teens, and adults have. Causing thickened, yellow, brittle nails, onychomycosis (the medical name for toenail fungus) spreads easily and can be stubborn to treat. If you see one or more of your toenails changing shape, color, and texture, see your foot doctor right away. They have the expertise and treatments to give you ten clear toenails once again.
How toenail fungus starts
The micro-organism thrives in dark, moist environments--sweaty socks and sneakers being prime candidates. Additionally, shared towels, nail clippers, shower room floors, and pool decks breed toenail and Athlete's Foot fungus. In fact, if you suffer periodic outbreaks of itchy, uncomfortable Athlete's Foot, you're more prone to onychomycosis, says the American Academy of Dermatology.
Conquering toenail fungus
Your foot doctor sees scores of patients with toenail fungus. Visual inspection is the main diagnostic tool, and for mild cases of onychomycosis, the podiatrist may recommend creams or ointments applied topically. Oral medications are an option as well.
Additionally, modern podiatry offers innovative laser treatments which kill the micro-organism right where it lives. Painless and very effective, laser treatments are applied to all ten toenails to prevent re-infection.
Unfortunately, toenail fungal infections can become quite severe and spread to the nail bed. When infection is severe, the podiatrist may advise complete removal of the toenail to prevent further problems.
Prevention is best
Of course, if you can avoid toenail fungus, your feet and nails will look and feel their best, and you won't be embarrassed to wear open-toed shoes or sandals in the warm weather. However, some people are more prone to this common infection--diabetics, those with poor peripheral circulation and individuals who are immunosuppressed.
Regardless, your podiatrist recommends these preventive measures for healthy, fungus-free nails:
- Wash your feet with soap and water daily, and dry them with a clean towel.
- Clip your toenails straight across with a clean clippers.
- Wear clean socks daily.
- Change your gym shoes after a workout. In fact, alternate pairs if possible, letting your footwear dry out between wearings.
- Wear flip-flops or shower sandals in the locker room and poolside, too.
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