Category Archives: Foot Care

Bunions – Identification & Diagnosis

Bunions are one of the more common foot ailments – more than 20% of 18 to 65-year-olds and more than 30% of seniors are affected. Research suggests individuals have a genetic predisposition for developing bunions, meaning you are more likely to develop them if your parents or grandparents had them.

Bunions are much more than just a bump; they are a serious and often painful deformity created by the big toe being bent towards the other toes instead of facing straight forward. Wearing tight shoes, injuries, and the above-mentioned genetic disposition are prime culprits. Other potential causes include:

  • Hypermobility and laxity within the foot
  • One leg being shorter than the other
  • Loose joints
  • Low arches
  • Arthritis
  • Flat feet

Identifying Bunions seems to be easy, but they can easily be confused with the following conditions:

  • Bursitis: painful and similar appearance; mostly temporary
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: painful and similar appearance; chronic
  • Gout: painful and similar appearance; temporary or chronic

Bunions develop slowly and become more difficult to treat over the years. Early detention might prevent surgery, so please don’t wait to contact your podiatrist if you identify a bunion-like swelling that won’t disappear.

Ingrown Toenails: Cause, Identification and Prevention

Ingrown toenails occur when the side or corner of your toenail begins to grow into the skin. Either the skin will grow over the edge of the toenail or the toenail itself will grow into the skin.

Cause

The main cause of ingrown toenails are wearing shoes that crowd your toenails or are too small for your feet. This causes discomfort and your toes are forced to squeeze together inside your shoe, restricting growth and comfort. Cutting your nails too short or not on a straight angle is another common way to get an ingrown toenail. By injuring your foot or stubbing your toe, you can have a similar effect.

Identification

Ingrown toenails are often easy to identify. If you experience pain, redness or swelling around your toe or nail there is a good chance you have an ingrown toenail. Usually, the area will be tender and swell up. Ingrown toenails can be treated in several ways, but it’s important to treat them as soon as they appear to prevent any infections.

Prevention

Finding a shoe that is the right size, comfortable and protective is the best way to take care of your feet. Trim your toenails often and straight across to ensure your toenails grow straight. Learn more about ingrown toenails here.

Athlete’s Foot – Do I have it?

Hot and humid summers are the perfect environment for a condition called Athlete’s Foot (tinea pedis). Like most fungal infections, Athlete’s Foot thrives when sweat meets confined spaces, so athletes and individuals who like to wear tight shows are especially affected. It’s vital to recognize the first signs to prevent it from spreading further. The following symptoms are sorted from most common to least common.

  • Scaly red rash
  • Located in between toes, especially the smaller ones
  • Itching
  • Stinging
  • Burning
  • Infection spreading to hands, toe nails or groin area
  • Dryness of the sole
  • Blisters
  • Ulcers

Symptoms depend on the individual affected and the type of Athlete’s Foot contracted. The inter-digital type primarily affects the clefts between the toes, the moccasin type often affects the sole of the feet, and the blistering type may lead to the formation of blisters.

Blisters caused by Athlete’s Foot are often overlooked and under-estimated, because most people do not realize these are different from the usual blisters you get from walking too much. The difference is that blisters caused by fungi often appear on the sole of the foot where the skin is thickest. They ooze pus, get crusty and may leave a red scaly border behind.  This kind of Athlete’s Foot also leads to a much higher risk for infection.

These symptoms commonly indicate Athlete’s Foot; however, a definite conclusion can only be drawn by a medical professional. Treatment plans vary depending on the kind of fungus, the severity of the condition and the condition of the individual affected. Please don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Smith and Dr. Buckrop if you have questions about these symptoms.

Loose the Heel Pain – and Heal Pain!

The American Podiatric Medical Association conducted a study that found nearly 77% of Americans suffer from heel pain, but only about a third of those people seek expert care to alleviate it. Any sort of pain or discomfort can make day to day activities, well… a real pain. Don’t think pain is normal and you should push through, seeking professional help can get you on the path from heel pain to healed pain!

Achilles Tendinitis

One of the causes of heel pain, especially in runners, is Achilles tendinitis, which results from the overuse and strain of the Achilles tendon. Most commonly caused by repetitive strain on your tendon, the risk for Achilles tendinitis increases with age, higher blood pressure and using worn-out shoes with little support. The most common symptom of Achilles tendinitis is pain on or above the heel. Symptoms typically start gradually with an aching or burning pain that is aggravated by exercise. Some patients might even notice the back of their foot where the tendon runs is warm to touch and slightly enflamed or swollen. Don’t want to worry about Achilles tendinitis? Daily calf stretches, proper shoes and combining low-impact activities into your work out can significantly reduce strain.

Stress Fractures

Stress Fractures are another cause of heel pain.  These are most commonly from repeated excessive stress, but can also come from osteoporosis.  By increasing strain too quickly, the bone does not have time to adapt to the increased pressure and this increased pressure can cause tiny cracks and stress points to form a full break or fracture. Unlike plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendinitis which affect soft tissue and tendons, stress fractures happen in the bones of your foot which means stretching and ‘walking it off’ can actually make your pain worse and cause more damage.

Depending on the severity of your pain and damage, there are a variety of ways podiatrists can help. More often than not, rest is a huge factor in recovering from excessive strain and stress fractures. Our feet are used so often and intensely in our day to day lives, it’s difficult for them to recover while in constant use. Lightening workouts or including low-impact elements as mentioned before can also help for those who simply cannot stay off their feet. As always, prevention is more effective than repair! Proper foot wear, listening when your body says “stop!” and staying hydrated are just a few ways to keep you up and going.

Plantar Warts – Identification & Prevention

What are Plantar Warts?

Similar to other warts, plantar warts are caused by an infection of the skin caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).  Plantar warts usually appear on the heel or ball of your foot, anywhere where large amounts of friction and pressure are applied.  This virus enters your body through tiny cuts, lesions or breaks in the bottom of your feet. Although Plantar Warts can affect anyone, they are more common among children, teenagers and people with weakened immune systems. Plantar warts are not a serious health concern and go away untreated or with home remedy treatments. But, if they become painful, start bleeding, reoccur or multiply please see your Podiatrist.

How to Identify Plantar Warts?

Plantar Warts are small, rough and appear on the soles or heels of the feet. Plantar warts can be flat and commonly grow inward under a hard, thick layer of skin such as the calluses on your feet. They can be a single wart or grow in a cluster also known as mosaic warts. Additionally, plantar warts may appear to have tiny black pinpoints inside the wart, also known as wart seeds. Don’t worry, these are just clotted blood vessels. Plantar warts usually grow slowly, but are easily identifiable because they often cause pain or tenderness in the area of the foot affected when walking or standing.

How to Prevent Plantar Warts?

It is hard to say how each person’s immune system will react to encountering HPV, but the spread of plantar warts is usually caused by coming in contact with an infected surface. Since it thrives in warm, moist environments, avoid walking barefoot in locker rooms, swimming pools and public shower rooms. Use shower sandals, keep your feet dry, always wear clean shoes and socks and avoid sharing socks with other people. To avoid spreading plantar warts, avoid direct contact with people who have them.  If you have a wart, do not scratch them.  Scratching can help plantar warts spread quickly to other smaller cuts and lesions.  Last, always cover your warts in warm environments to avoid getting more and spreading to others.

Learn more about Plantar Warts here: