Posts for: October, 2017
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and while the connection between your breasts and your feet may not seem obvious, those going through breast cancer treatment can tell you that one really does affect the other. Statistics suggest that 1 in 8 women in the US will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Unfortunately, breast cancer accounts for more cancer deaths in women than any other cancer, but advances in treatment combined with early detection methods have reduced the number of deaths overall and mortality rates continue to fall.
One of the most common treatments for cancer still involves chemotherapy. Chemo is a full-body drug, meaning it can travel through your entire body and find and attack cancer cells. This also means however, that it can attack healthy cells and cause some unpleasant side effects. One such side effect is peripheral neuropathy.
Peripheral Neuropathy is the loss of feeling in the toes, feet, fingers, or hands due to nerve damage – in this case, from chemotherapy drugs. Symptoms of neuropathy include numbness, tingling, and loss of sensation in the extremities. This can lead to missteps and falls or cuts or bruises that you can’t feel and therefore don’t attempt to heal. Neuropathy is a progressive disease so if you leave it untreated, it could lead to permanent nerve damage. The good news is that discontinuation of treatment with the drug causing the neuropathy can oftentimes lead to the symptoms disappearing.
If you are experiencing symptoms of peripheral neuropathy in your feet, there are a few things you will want to do to keep yourself safe. First, wear shoes or socks at all times, even when walking around the house. Make sure your shoes aren’t too snug though! Put non-slip mats wherever you can such as the bathtub, at the kitchen sink, or even in front of the washing machine. Sit down as much as you can and when you walk, make sure to pay attention to your feet to avoid tripping and falling. Look at your feet at least once a day and keep them clean and dry to avoid bacteria or fungus. You may want to talk to your podiatrist about getting special inserts for your shoes to help protect your feet. Also, avoid hot or cold extremes.
If we could magically kick every cancer cell out of your body and leave you happy and healthy we would, but unfortunately chemotherapy drugs are often a necessary part of breast cancer treatment. If you chemo drugs are giving you peripheral neuropathy, talk to your oncologist and then come see your podiatrist. You’ve got enough on your mind without worrying about your feet. Let us do that instead.
The flips, the turns, the spangled leotards…. That’s right, the World Artistic Gymnastics Championship is taking place right now (October 2nd-8th) in Montreal. While these ladies and gentlemen are incredible athletes and constantly amaze us with their tricks, gymnastics is a sport heavy with foot and ankle injuries. Let’s take a look at some of the more common injuries these athletes face.
The repeated strain of jumping and landing can mean very bad things for your Achilles tendon. This tendon stretches from the calf muscle to the heel and although it is the strongest tendon in the body, it is still prone to overuse injuries. The constant motion of running on pointed toes, jumping and landing during floor routines, and trying to stick that landing on the four inch wide beam all put this tendon under tremendous stress. Tendonitis, an inflammation of the tendon and related bursae sacs, can lead to stiffness in the calf and limited range of motion. Tendons may also suffer small or large tears, which can occur gradually or suddenly. In a worst-case scenario, the Achilles tendon may rupture completely, usually with a loud “pop” sound. Unfortunately, a ruptured Achilles tendon means surgery and long-term recovery.
While tendons and muscles bend and stretch, your bones are rigid and when young athletes put continual stress on their bones, stress fractures can occur. A stress fracture is a small crack in the bone brought on by repeated direct stress to that spot. The impact that a front handspring has on your body is incredible. Now multiply that by 50 front handsprings a day for months on end and you’ve got a serious risk to your feet. It’s a good idea to mix up your workouts or practices to give parts of your body rest. If your feet need a break, try a few days of practicing just the uneven bars. Proper nutrition is also a big contributor to stress fractures. If athletes are not consuming proper amounts of vitamin D and other essential nutrients, their bones may become more brittle and subject to fracture. Don’t try and just “play through the pain” with a stress fracture; if it grows, you could be looking at a full bone break which will mean goodbye to your gold medal.
Gymnastics is a sport that many children begin at a very young age. Unfortunately, when you add stress and pressure to already changing bones and muscles, you can come up with some strange injuries. One common injury seen in very young gymnasts is called Sever’s Disease. The heel bone grows faster than most bones in the body and reaches adult size before the surrounding muscles and ligaments do. When young athletes experience pain, swelling, and tenderness of the heel bone, it’s a sign that they are overusing this area. Luckily, Sever’s Disease goes away quickly with rest, stretching, and growth.
The beauty and grace of these athletes combined with the jaw-dropping flips and tricks have made gymnastics one of the world’s favorite sports, but for the athletes who perform, a myriad of foot and ankle issues and injuries can pop up. If you’re a gymnast, pay attention to what your feet are telling you and get any pain or injury checked out immediately. Your podiatrist can keep you flying high and going for the gold.