Many people suffer from arachnophobia or fear of spiders. But do you fear spider veins? Known clinically as telangiectasia, spider veins occur in over 15% of men and 60% of women. These statistics increase as you age.

Spider veins appear in a branching or webbed pattern and usually occur on the legs or face. Spider veins are small and red. If you see large, twisted, purple or blue veins that bulge out from the skin, these are varicose veins, a more severe form of the same issue. Both are caused by a backup of blood, a result of venous insufficiency. However, hormone changes, exposure to sunlight, and various injuries can also cause spider veins to appear.

Spider veins rarely cause issues themselves but can be indicative of a greater overall health problem. Symptoms of spider veins may include swelling, dull and achy pain, or an itchy rash. The biggest side effect is simply their unappealing look.

You can reduce your chances of developing or worsening spider veins by:

  • Standing up every 30 minutes if you work sitting down
  • Sitting down every 30 minutes if you work standing up
  • Exercising to improve blood flow in the legs
  • Elevating your legs regularly
  • Using compression socks and stockings as directed by a physician
  • Controlling your bodyweight to put less pressure on the legs

You may not be able to completely avoid developing spider veins as genetics and age have much to do with it. However, the great news is, existing spider veins are completely treatable with painless laser therapy. Small veins may resolve within one treatment, but larger spider veins will darken for 1-3 months before disappearing. Fall and winter are the perfect times for treatment, so your legs are shorts-ready come spring. Ask your podiatrist about our laser therapy treatments for spider veins and more!

If you feel something brewing this season and it isn’t a witch’s cauldron, it could be a wart forming on your foot. Warts get a bad rap, often being associated with toads and frogs, but in fact, warts have nothing to do with our amphibious friends.

Warts are caused by a virus infecting the top layer of the skin. When they appear on the feet, they are called plantar warts. These can either appear singularly or in groupings, called mosaic warts. Warts spread through direct contact with the virus. When someone with a plantar wart walks barefoot, they leave the virus behind where you can pick it up easily through any cut, break, or weak area in the skin.

Plantar warts like to form around the weight-bearing portions of the foot—usually the bottom of the heel or at the base of the toes. They appear as small lesions or calluses over a defined dot. This dot is sometimes referred to as a “wart seed” but is really just a clotted capillary. Since you are constantly putting pressure on the wart, it grows into the skin, rather than outward as a bump. This may cause pain or discomfort.

Warts are not dangerous. If left untreated, the wart will generally disappear in one to two years. If you experience discomfort when walking on your wart, there are professional treatment options available. (Traditional home remedies are generally not effective at removing warts.)

Your podiatrist may offer a topical solution, using a chemical dressing to cover and treat the wart. This treatment option takes several weeks for results. Freezing a wart away is another option, though again, it may take several treatments before the wart is fully eradicated.

One more painless and effective option for treating warts is laser therapy. The laser slowly closes the blood vessels under the wart. Without this nutrient source, the wart will shrink and eventually die before falling off the foot completely. If all other treatment methods have failed, your podiatrist may choose to excise the wart surgically from the foot.

There is evidence that purposefully exposing your body to the virus (autoimplantation) will create an autoimmune response that helps treat and prevent future plantar warts, but more research on this option is needed before it becomes the primary choice of treatment.

If you are experiencing a painful wart on the bottom of your foot, stop blaming the frogs and come see your podiatrist instead.

There are many types of corns: white corn, Indian corn, popcorn, candy corn–and, of course, foot corns. That last one isn’t exactly a popular option, but they occur nonetheless. One type of corn that can develop is called a “kissing corn.” This is a type of soft corn (heloma molles), meaning it develops in between the toes because of a bone abnormality.

Your bones are shaped like an hourglass, getting smaller in the middle and wider at the ends. When the ends of your bones are wider than average, they may rub together, causing friction and result in corns. This most often happens between the fourth and fifth (pinky) toes.

While it typically occurs in people with bone abnormalities, kissing corns can also result from wearing tight shoes that squeeze the toes together. This could be a specialty athletic shoe (like climbing or ballet shoes), a pair of pointed-toed high heels, or just a basic shoe that happens to be too small. Anything that presses your toes together can lead to a soft corn.

A corn is a thick buildup of skin resulting from friction. A soft corn is essentially the same, but due to its positioning, the skin remains thinner and partially moist due to sweat between toes. This gives it a spongy texture. Most often it will be whitish but can also be yellow.

For most people, the only symptom of a corn is discomfort and pain, but if you leave it alone, the corn can become an open sore and become infected. This can be particularly dangerous for diabetic patients.

Treatment goals include controlling pain and reducing corn size. There are both conservative and surgical solutions for kissing corns. The non-surgical option includes shaving down the corn and using pads and wide shoes to reduce rubbing and allow healing. Surgical solutions are recommended for people with bone abnormalities whose corns will reoccur if the underlying problem isn’t corrected. During the surgery, the inside ends of the bones are shaved down to eliminate touching of the toes.

If you are suffering from kissing corns, a solution is in sight. Call the FAAWC today to discuss your options.

Ever since the invention of the high heel, women have been falling head over…well, feet for them. But the high rates of falling when wearing high heels may not be worth the aesthetic benefits.

Heels change our center of gravity, forcing it higher and leaning us further forward. Because our center of gravity is not actually centered over our hips, knees, and ankles anymore, our natural balance is thrown off. This leads to trips, falls, and injury. The most common injury sustained from wearing high heels is an ankle sprain or strain.

READ MORE: Finding Your Perfect Heel Height

In the 10 years between 2002 and 2012, reported incidences of injury from high heel falls nearly doubled to 8.83 per 100,000 emergency room cases. Women ages 30-39 suffered an above average number of falls with 11.07 per 100,000. And the 20-29 age group takes the cake with 18.29 per 100,000. 1

Surprisingly, almost half of these falls happened in the home. When your podiatrist tells you not to walk around the house barefoot, they don’t mean keep your high heels on all morning and evening. In fact, it’s best if you spend as little time as possible in high heels as they not only impact balance but also affect driving and can lead to foot and ankle issues such as hammertoes, bunions, neuromas, plantar fasciitis, pump bump (Haglund’s deformity), Achilles tendon tightness, and more.

READ MORE: Pregnancy and High Heels

Long-term wear also changes your muscle efficiency, foot positioning, stride length, and pace. The good news is, your feet will adjust back to their default over time as you stop wearing high heels, but it could take a while before you feel totally stable again. It seems like the majority of women now agree that the risks of heels may not be worth it. High heel sales were down 12% in 2017 with sneaker sales rising 37%.

If you love your heels, you can absolutely keep wearing them. Just know that you are at an increased risk of falling and injuring your foot and ankle when you wear heels. Try carrying a pair of flats for driving, walking long distances, and changing into after a long day or night.

Exercise is a vital part of living a healthy lifestyle, but for those with limited mobility or poor balance, exercise can be a daunting idea. If you're looking for a winning combination of low-impact and high-quality exercise, there is a perfect solution that invigorates the body, works the heart, strengthens muscles, and improves balance. You may know about it already.

It’s called tai chi.

This ancient Chinese martial art is the perfect option for folks looking for low-impact, gentle exercise options. While it is a form of self-defense, the only thing you’ll be defending yourself against is poor health. In fact, tai chi has been scientifically proven to reduce the risk of falls among the elderly by up to 43%. That’s because tai chi has mega benefits for your feet.

The slow, graceful moves of tai chi are all based in your feet. It is through the feet that energy is transferred upwards, through the legs and core, into the shoulders and arms. Proper “grounding” is the key to successful tai chi. Grounding is the act of achieving and maintaining balance through ground contact.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Gently press your toes into the ground. Don’t curl or force them. The idea is to connect the pads of your toes to the ground naturally. Now, shift your weight back slightly so your heel pad is exerting equal pressure toward the ground as your toes. It may be good to try this barefoot at first to really feel the connection. If you are properly grounded, balance is easily achieved.

The second thing grounding your feet does is raise your arch. A properly raised arch will stretch the foot and promote the movement of Qi. Qi (pronounced “chee”) is the energy that flows through every living thing. The major pathways in the body that Qi flows through begin and end in your feet. This is the basis for foot reflexology. Tai chi is said to activate these pathways and improve general health.

Footwork in tai chi is slow and controlled. The graceful motions are easy to follow and will build accurate footing, flexibility, and strength. Changes in position draw attention to the feet, their angle, weight distribution, and placement. Increasing awareness and sensations in the feet can help improve balance.

Many people choose to practice tai chi barefoot to increase their sensitivity and awareness. For many people, this can be detrimental, so shoes are strongly suggested. Make sure your shoe is flexible and flat. Shoes that pull up at the toes will not allow for proper grounding. A broad sole can be useful for maintaining balance. Some specialty martial arts shoes are available for purchase.

If you would like to try a free tai chi class, visit the FAAWC on Wednesday, September 26th from 3pm to 6pm. We will be offering free tai chi demonstrations along with our balance challenge. Read more HERE!

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