Bunions are a common foot problem that increasingly get worse over time. But what exactly are bunions and—more importantly—how can they be treated?

A bunion is a bump that forms at the base joint of the big toe. The big toe does a lot for helping us walk and stay balanced, and so developing a deformity around it is understandably uncomfortable. Bunions are produced when pressure pushes the big toe toward the smaller toe, sometimes settling under or over it. This alignment causes the base joint to slowly change shape, resulting in the infamous bony bump.

Bunions can result from many different factors, including genetics, injury, arthritis, and wearing tight shoes, so it pays to be aware of the symptoms of this disorder. Symptoms include:

  • A bump at the base of your big toe
  • Pain, swelling, or soreness
  • Numbness or restricted movement

Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do once it’s been diagnosed you have a bunion. Getting periodic x-rays and evaluations of your toe joint is always helpful. Wearing comfortable shoes, padding your foot, icing your foot, and reducing activity that causes bunion pain are also recommended.

Easing bunion pain will not cure the deformity itself, however. Due to the disorder’s permanent and progressive nature, bunions will continually worsen with time. If bunion pain persists to the point where it’s affecting your daily routine it may be time to consider surgical treatment. A variety of surgical options are available for bunions, picking the right procedure just depends on the extent of the deformity and personal factors such as age and activity level.

For more information please visit:

  • http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bunions/home/ovc-20262028
  • https://www.foothealthfacts.org/conditions/bunions

This entry was posted in Foot Care and tagged Bunions, Pain on by Dr. Kevin Smith, DPM.


Hammertoes are a naturally occurring or hereditary deformity in the toes. It creates a muscular or tendon imbalance, which causes a toe to bend. Hammertoes can be caused by wearing shoes that do not fit correctly or by placing your feet in cramped positions for extended periods of time. Hammertoes can also be caused by earlier damage to the affected toe or toes. There are a couple of symptoms to be aware of:

  • Contractions in the toe or toes
  • Pain or irritation while wearing footwear
  • Corns or calluses between the toes or on the bottom of the foot
  • Sores
  • Redness

Unless properly addressed, hammertoes will not improve on its own and may even proceed to worsen. If caught in earlier stages, it can be a simple fix with minimal long term issues; however, if left untreated hammertoes may become an issue that requires surgery.

There are several tips to treat and prevent flare-ups with hammertoes. The first tip is to wear appropriate footwear. Switching to shoes with more space in the toe area can help bring down inflammation. Your trusted podiatrist can help you select orthotic devices which help control the imbalance of the muscle or tendon in the toes is necessary. Another option are foot pads that can be placed over corn and calluses to reduce irritation. In other cases, medication or surgery is be the preferred method of treatment.

Find more information about Hammertoes here

This entry was posted in Foot Care and tagged Hammer Toes on by Dr. Kevin Smith, DPM.

Common Winter Foot Problems

As we make our way through these winter months, here are some tips to keep in mind on some of the most common problems we see in our office during the winter months:

Dry Cracked Skin

Dry cracked skin results from a lack of moisture frequently caused by the use of harsh soaps, improper footwear, and conditions such as eczema and even diabetes. Having sweaty feet and wearing wet socks often affects children. Frequently soaking your feet in warm water for 20 minutes and moisturizing them afterwards often does the trick.


Factures often occur through athletic activities, but a slip on the sidewalk can cause fractures as well. Reports even mention that standing on a hard surface for an extended period of time can result in tiny fractures. Watch out for bruising, pain, swelling, and/or a change of color and contact your podiatrist if symptoms don’t disappear within a reasonable period of time.


We all know frostbite warnings and typically think about the effects the cold has on our ears, nose, and hands; however, frostbite affects your feet in a similar way. Kids especially might not realize the dangers of playing in the snow for an extended period of time. Check your kids’ feet for red/purple toes and make sure their shoes are both warm and waterproof. Get immediate help if a toe has turned black! Another risk group is people with diabetes.

Bathe your feet in warm water (100 degrees) after a long day in the cold, but avoid using a hair dryer or any other source of aggressively dry heat. Needless to say, regular foot exams will make sure you haven’t overlooked any problems and they can also determine whether you are more prone to particular problems and conditions than others. Prevention is still the best medicine after all.

Find more information at

  • https://www.foothealthfacts.org/article/stress-fracturies,-foot-injuries-increase-in-winte
  • https://www.foothealthfacts.org/CMSPages/GetFile.aspx?guid=9b9ec631-61b9-49fe-bfdc-937b91273fce
  • http://www.seattlechildrens.org/medical-conditions/symptom-index/cracked-dry-skin/

Smith - Picture (Blog. January 2017) - 11-1-17

This entry was posted in Foot Care, Footwear and tagged Cracked Skin, Dry Skin, Early Detection, Frostbite, Prevention, Winter on by Dr. Kevin Smith, DPM.

Keep your feet warm

We have already seen plenty of snow, so here are a few tips on how to keep your feet warm:

  • Keep your shoes/boots close to a heater, so they are already pre-heated any time you need them. It feels great to start your day with warm boots and your feet won’t need to burn any energy to heat them up themselves.
  • Wear appropriate clothes any time your leave your house. A cold upper body will reduce blood flow to your extremities to keep up the core body temperature and consequently cool down your feet.
  • Dress your feet appropriately! Thick socks and solid boots are great for a fall hike or to make a snow man, but they are rather counterproductive in an office environment and only result in sweaty feet. Consider changing your footwear during the day if you are facing very different temperatures during the day.
  • Don’t cut off circulation to your feet by wearing several socks or tight shoes. Your feet will thank you!
  • Consider insoles if you are spending a lot of time outside. Your feet often lose more heat through the sole than through the air around the shoe.
  • Jump! You are your owner heating system, so if you feel the cold creeping up, get moving and make your warm blood flow through your whole body.

Needless to say, getting your feet checked won’t hurt either. Call (309)762-7919 for more information.


This entry was posted in Foot Care, Footwear and tagged Winter on by Dr. Kevin Smith, DPM.

Foot exercises to maintain healthy feet

The easiest foot exercise to maintain healthy feet is to simply take a walk. Every muscle has a purpose, so walking will utilize most of them. Conveniently, you can exercise your feet indoors and prevent any approaching rain and snow. You can even watch your favorite show and still do a few foot exercises – there truly isn’t an excuse (unless you have a serious foot injury)!

There are two basic kinds of exercises: flexibility exercises and resistance exercises. Flexibility exercises improve your feet’s flexibility and make them less prone to tendon injuries as a consequence. No matter your age, exercising will make your feet more limber, even though they have naturally become stiffer over the years. This primarily happens through the stretching of certain muscle groups within the foot. Resistance exercises are basically muscle building exercises involving weights or exercise bands. Strong muscles ensure your feet stay strong and less vulnerable to all kinds of internal injuries.

A few great exercises to start with:

  • Try to grip and lift a soft object off the floor. Hold the object for a few seconds, release it, and repeat this exercise five times with each foot.
  • Wrap an elastic band around all five toes. Expand your toes, hold for five seconds, release, and repeat this exercise five times with each foot.
  • Balance on one foot and rise up onto your toes. Hold for 10 seconds, then lower, and repeat this exercise ten times on each foot.

The following websites display further exercises for your daily use. Please don’t hesitate to consult your podiatrist if you have any questions!

  • http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/exercises-for-healthy-feet
  • http://www.realsimple.com/health/fitness-exercise/workouts/4-foot-exercises
  • http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00667


This entry was posted in Foot Care and tagged Exercise on by Dr. Kevin Smith, DPM.