Posts for: September, 2016
We have covered a lot of topics in our past blog posts, but something we haven’t really touched on is actually one of the most common foot ailments: Bunions. With over 3 million cases each year in the United States alone, bunions (aka. hallux valgus) are a common sight in podiatry offices.
A bunion occurs when the big toe pushes against the adjoining toes, forcing the big toe joint (metatarsophalangeal joint) outward. This creates a visible deformity of the foot and can be accompanied by redness, swelling, pain, and stiffness. Since this deformity can become quite pronounced, many people are able to “self-diagnose” the issue. As you can see in this photo, along with a bad case of farmers-tan, this gentleman probably noticed his bunions and sought treatment from his podiatrist.
There is a debate in the podiatric community about the cause of bunions. On the one side, podiatrists argue that bunions are formed due to genetic conditions such as flat feet, abnormal bone structure, or even certain neurological conditions. On the other side, we have those who say tight or ill-fitting footwear is the sole cause. This view tends to have the stronger following and is backed up by research. In a study of cultures that did not wear shoes, no bunions were found. That’s a pretty strong argument.
So, does this mean that everyone who wears shoes could form a bunion? Well, no, but with certain shoes, absolutely yes. Just as water slowly wears down rock, constant pressure from your shoes can force your toes to move in unnatural directions. Pointed toe shoes tend to be the biggest culprit. Shoes that are too narrow will eventually push your big toe towards or even over or under the adjoining toes. As this happens, the joint protrudes and becomes irritated. The large visible bump is partially caused by an inflamed bursal sac. Bunions may also occur on the outer side of the foot at the base of the little toe. This is called a Tailor’s Bunion.
READ MORE: Bursitis
So, what do I do if I have a bunion? Well, the first thing to do is go see your podiatrist. Even before you see a bump, if you have consistent pain in your big toe joint, make an appointment. For some bunions, treatment can be as simple as changing the type of shoes you wear or adding orthotics and padding. However, these options treat the symptoms and prevent worsening of the bunion, they do not take care of the underlying problem. For that, a simple surgical procedure may be required. Options include shaving down the bony protrusion and realigning the big toe into its proper position. Your podiatrist will discuss all the options with you and help choose the best procedure for your exact condition. Surgeries are typically outpatient procedures with a 6 to 8 week recovery time, during which crutches or orthopedic casts may be used.
If you have pain, redness, stiffness, or protrusion at the base of your big toe, go see your podiatrist. Early treatment means better healing and foot health. Don’t live your life with pain! (And don’t wear tight shoes!)
photo credit: Badly Drawn Dad <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/249661028">20060903_Pre-Op</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">(license)</a>
Occasionally, we like to post photos of outrageous shoes to brighten up your week with a laugh. Well the shoes Teva made Shanthi, a 41-year old elephant at the National Zoo, are no joking matter. They are bringing serious health benefits to this elephant with arthritis! (But they do look darn funny). If you want to see the amazing sight of an elephant walking around in shoes, click the link below and enjoy.
During the month of August, we looked at different types of insoles and orthotics. The company Digitsole has been looking at insoles and orthotics for years and they’ve been doing it in a very different way. While pedometers and fitbits can tell you your heart rate and keep track of your pace and stats, they are missing a key element of running that every podiatrist worries about: your stride.
The Digitsole Run Profiler is an insert for your running shoe that packs big technology and function. A thin, rechargeable lithium polymer battery powers the insole and a single charge can last for up to ten hours of activity. It features an anti-bacterial material, arch support, and specific flex zones designed to move better with your foot.
The technology inside the Run Profiler is even more impressive. There are tons of running apps out there that can measure distance, steps, elevation, pace, splits, etc. But this is the first of its kind that can actually interpret what your feet would say to you if they could talk. First, the Run Profiler tracks and measures the 3D movement of your foot in real time. Next the Run Profiler analyzes your gait to show you how to expend less energy with each stride and make your running more efficient. Run Profiler can also detect fatigue and warn you so that you can reduce your risk of injury. But how do we get all this data? The insole features built in Bluetooth that connects to the app on your phone and a coach gives you this advice as it is happening.
The technology packed into this small space is incredible and it could change the way we run and protect us from injury. Currently available only in Europe, the insole retails for 99 Euros (about $112 USD). I don’t know about you, but that seems like a small investment to make for the health of my feet.
For more information on the Digitsole Run Profiler, visit http://www.digitsole.com/run-profiler/
The whole world watched in awe at the prowess of the Olympic athletes competing in Rio, but many people overlook some even more amazing athletes. Yesterday was the opening of the Paralympics and if you thought the regular Olympics was impressive, you haven’t seen anything like this! One of the disabilities seen at the Paralympics is the use of prosthetic limbs due to amputation or limb loss. In order to understand what these athletes go through just to be able to walk again, let’s take a closer look at how prosthesis is made.
Everybody is different and that means prosthetic limbs must be custom molded to each individual. Once the residual limb heals, the patient will receive a prescription from their surgeon to meet with a prosthetist to discuss options and take measurements. This usually occurs 2-6 months after surgery. The comfort and function of a proper prosthesis requires precise measurements, so taking measurements before amputation is ideal if at all possible. The prosthesis itself has three parts: the liner, the socket, and the limb.
The liner is a cushioned wrap worn on the residual limb and provides a layer of protection against the socket and can fill in space for a better fit. The socket is the connection point between human and prosthesis. The socket itself is perhaps the most important part of the prosthesis since an ill-fitting socket can result in sores, blisters, and increased pain. Since no two residual limbs have the same shape, this must be very precisely custom molded to each individual. The last part is the limb itself. There are tons of options for this based on the individual needs of the patient and what they intend to do with it. Along with functional prosthesis, cosmetic prosthetic limbs, called cosmesis, are available and can be molded and painted to an eerie life-like degree, even with matching freckles and hair.
It is common to spend six months to a year in rehabilitation just to regain proper gait, balance, and coordination. However, rehabilitation is not athletic training so those who aspire to Paralympics greatness must continue the journey past the basics of standing and walking. Two-a-day practices, specialized diets, and constant encouragement and training, all of which are required of able-bodied athletes, are also required of disabled athletes. Exercise programs may be modified to meet the needs of the individual (for example, someone with a prosthetic limb may choose to practice squats and dead lifts without their prosthesis, making their remaining leg stronger than average) but overall, Paralympics training requires the same dedication as Olympic training. This means disabled athletes are most often in better physical shape than able-bodied athletes to compete in the same events.
Overcoming the loss of a limb is already a huge obstacle, but continuing on to win a gold medal on one of the world’s biggest stages takes a whole new level of determination and positivity. These amazing athletes who represent a wide array of disabilities show the world that anything is possible and giving up is not an option. If you or someone you know is faced with this life-changing event, keep hope. There is nothing stopping you from being everything you are and more. Congratulations and good luck to all the Paralympians representing the United States in Rio these next few weeks.
I grew up in a school with a strict uniform dress code, every girl in exactly the same jumper and every boy in exactly the same oxford shirt. My bright personality and fashion sense struggled to shine among the sea of maroon and white. But, with only minor restrictions on our footwear choices, I found a way to stand out from the crowd. From high-top orange chucks to Coach brand slip-ons, I expressed my individuality proudly. I wonder now how I was able to convince my mother that my choice of back-to-school shoes should be based purely on style, not function.
While this article may be a bit late to influence your purchases (most schools in my area started last week), it may take away some surprise when that perfect pair of shoes your kid insisted on falls apart after only a few months. Kids are at school around 6.5 hours per day for about 180 days per year. That’s over 1,170 hours in the same shoes! The largest High School in the US is over 8,000 students. Imagine how big that building must be and how far those students probably walk in a given day!
If I haven’t convinced you yet, I don’t know what will. Students need to think about comfort over style when it comes to back-to-school choices. Luckily, there are plenty of stylish choices that include good function, support, and durability. It may take a bit more searching than a quick trip to Target, but I promise your money will go further and your kid’s feet will be happier if you make the right decision now rather than waiting for midterms. Your kid’s feet will thank you.