Posts for: March, 2018
Gout is a painful arthritic condition that affects nearly 4% of the world’s population, yet most people don’t recognize a gout attack when it happens. Pretty surprising for a disease that was first identified in 2640BC.
Gout, also called hyperuricemia, is brought on by high levels of uric acid which form crystals in the body. Uric acid is needed to break down purines, a chemical compound found naturally in many foods. Some bodies produce too much uric acid, and instead of being used, it builds up in the metatarsal joint of your big toe.
Symptoms include sudden and intense pain with redness and swelling. Attacks often happen at night and create tenderness so acute it’s painful to even lay the bedsheets over your toe. Lavish and decadent foods such as bacon, veal, scallops, and alcohol (particularly beer) have high levels of purines and can trigger the condition.
READ MORE ABOUT GOUT: My Big Toe Hurts
Many first-time gout sufferers delay treatment and eventually end up in an urgent care for pain relief. No need! Corticosteroid injections are available in-office and reduce swelling and pain almost immediately. Next, your podiatrist will work with you to form a plan to manage your gout.
The good news is that gout attacks are easily avoidable with dietary changes or oral medications. The bad news is that without treatment, the potential for an attack is always present because the internal process that leads to gout cannot be corrected.
If you are suffering from an attack, don’t delay your treatment. Gout can be indicative of cardiovascular issues or kidney damage. Know the signs and symptoms, so there’s no doubt in your mind about gout.
Your toes are permanent roommates and if you’ve ever had a roommate, you know that people who live in close proximity need their space. Your toes are no different! When you crowd your toes by wearing pointed-toe shoes, high heels that put pressure on the front of the toes, or any shoe with a narrow toe box, it can lead to a hammertoe. What is a hammertoe? I’m glad you asked…
A hammertoe is an abnormal bend in the middle joint of a toe. It most often occurs in the second, third, and fourth toes. When your toes are curled under for extended periods of time, they begin to hold that shape. It may become painful to stretch or manipulate the toe and secondary issues such as blisters, corns, and calluses can arise. Improperly fitting shoes are a huge factor in the development of hammertoes. They are also more likely to develop in toes that have experienced a trauma, such as a bad break, jam, or stub. There are some genetic risk factors too, so let your podiatrist know if you have a family history of hammertoes (even if you haven’t developed one yourself). Arthritis and muscle imbalances are also causes of hammertoes.
READ MORE: Hammertoes
Women are more susceptible than men and the chances of developing this condition increase as you age. If your second toe is longer than your big toe, you will need to pay particular attention to the way your shoes fit and give extra space. Your shoes may also become uncomfortable due to corns or calluses that form on the bump of the toe. Use a pumice stone to reduce calluses and put a silicone or moleskin pad on the toe to avoid further rubbing.
Time is of the essence with a hammertoe. If treatment begins as soon as the toe begins to bend (when it’s still moveable), the condition can often be halted with simple methods such as toe exercises, roomier shoes, toe splints, or orthotics. If you allow your hammertoe to go untreated until it is fixed into position, which is what about 50% of our patients do, a surgical solution may be your only option. Your podiatrist might release or reposition the tendons and ligaments holding the toe curled or use pins and bone fusions to correct the bend.
The best thing you can do for your feet is to wear the proper shoes and make an appointment with the FAAWC immediately when you notice a hammertoe developing. We’re here to help.
READ MORE: Quick Tips for the Shoe Store
You may have seen the title of this blog and thought of the pointed wheels worn by cowboys on their boots to urge a horse forward. Yes, those are also called spurs, but a Heel Spur is different. Your bones are constantly being repaired and strengthened by your body to keep up with the stresses of everyday activity, but when this process goes awry, it can leave odd-shaped calcium deposits on the exterior of the bone. If this happens to your heels, it's a heel spur. The deposit may be pointed and sharp or it could be flat and barely noticeable. It could cause intense pain or have no symptoms at all. Generalized pain in the heel needs to be evaluated by a podiatrist since there are many causes.
This is one of the most common conditions associated with heel spurs. The plantar fascia is a strong band of tissue along the bottom of the foot that connects the heel bone to the toes. When the plantar fascia is damaged, your body sends a message to your heel to strengthen the bone to make up for lost support. A heel spur brought on by plantar fasciitis forms on the underside of the bone and if it becomes prominent enough, you may begin to feel it like a lump in your shoe. About 50% of all heel spurs form as a result of plantar fasciitis, according to the Mayo Clinic.
This is an arthritic condition that causes excess bone growth in the spine. Symptoms generally present with pain and stiffness in the low back and hips, but everything in our bodies is connected to something else. Unfortunately, that something else in this case is your feet. Both your Achilles tendon and your plantar fascia are at risk of being damaged by AS, which can lead to heel spurs on the back or bottom of your heel.
Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostasis. When we break down these words, we find that DISH is a spread out (Diffuse) pain with no identifiable cause (idiopathic) in the bones (skeletal) that involves too much growth (hyperostosis). Calcium deposits form down the sides of the upper spine and neck, but can be found as far away as the heels. Heels spurs from DISH will form on the back side of the heel and can make it difficult to wear certain shoes that rub in the affected area.
No matter what is causing your heel spur, the MLS pain laser can stop an active spur from growing and relieve the associated pain. Another good idea—and don’t faint when I say this—is to wear a raised heel. Not a HIGH heel, mind you, but a shoe that tilts the foot slightly forward can avoid excess pressure on the affected area. There’s no getting around it, if you suspect you may have a heel spur, you need to come see us. Your podiatrist will check for multiple causes of heel spurs and offer treatment suggestions.
READ MORE: Get Summer Ready Feet Today
Arthritis affects 40 million people in the US. There are many types of arthritis and it can manifest in almost any part of the body so it’s difficult at times to keep track of what’s what. The most common arthritic condition of the foot is called Hallux Rigidus. No, it’s not a spell from Harry Potter; Hallux is a name for the big toe and Rigidus means it has become rigid, unable to bend.
Hallux Rigidus is a degenerative arthritis (osteoarthritis), meaning it can occur from the everyday wear and tear you put on your feet. You are at greater risk for hallux rigidus if you have a family history of arthritis or have a preexisting structural abnormality (fallen arches, excessive pronation, etc.). One in every 40 adults over 50 years old are affected by this condition.
READ MORE: Osteoarthritis
The toe becomes stiff because the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint at the base of the large toe becomes inflamed and hinders proper movement. This leads to a big problem because our big toe needs to bend every time we take a step.
Symptoms of Hallux Rigidus include pain and of course inability to bend the big toe. At first, this may be minor and aggravated by cold or damp weather. You may have trouble with certain activities and movements such as running or squatting. Inflammation of the joint can lead to swelling, redness, and difficulty wearing shoes. Eventually, bone spurs may occur, and the toe can become completely immobile.
Diagnosis requires a physical examination where your podiatrist will test the flexibility and range of motion in your joint. They may also take x-rays to check the progression of arthritis or look for bone spurs. Like most podiatric ailments, if caught early enough, Hallux Rigidus has some simple non-surgical solutions.
You guessed it, wearing the right shoes that don’t put undue pressure on or squeeze the toes can help keep your big toe moving. Orthotic devices to correct structural abnormalities, corticosteroid injections, and foot exercises or physical therapy are all conservative treatment methods that help stop the progression of this painful condition.
READ MORE: Footwear for Spring
The stiffer your big toe becomes, the less chance there is of keeping a full range of motion. If you feel that your big toe just isn’t the same as it used to be and is keeping you from living a healthy and active lifestyle call the FAAWC for an appointment today.
Have you ever taken off your shoe, thinking there was a pebble inside, only to find nothing? You may be experiencing the effects of a neuroma. Morton’s neuroma is the term for a thickening of the tissue around the nerve between the third and fourth toes. It can be painful and lead to permanent damage if left untreated.
Symptoms of a Morton’s neuroma include sharp, burning pain in the ball of the foot and a stinging or numb feeling in the toes. Symptoms show up only occasionally at first but will increase in intensity and become more persistent as the condition worsens. Over time, the tissue will thicken to the point where you may lose feeling in those toes.
As with many foot ailments, the causes are easily brought on by improper footwear. High heels that squeeze the toes together can lead to Morton’s neuroma. Some sports featuring tight footwear such as rock climbing, ballet, and skiing have been linked to neuroma development.
READ MORE: Shoes for the Activities We Love
Neuromas are also more likely to occur in those with high arches, flat feet, bunions, hammertoes, or other foot deformities. Your podiatrist will likely take x-rays to rule out other causes of pain (such as stress fractures) or perform an ultrasound to see what’s happening in your soft tissues.
If caught early, many patients can stop their pain and reverse the effects of a neuroma. Step one is to get the proper footwear. Choose shoes with a wide toe-box. If you must wear heels, try a wedge or a lower heel height. Make sure you relieve any pressure on your toes occasionally if you wear tight shoes throughout the day. Padding your shoes and adding arch supports can help along with over-the-counter pain relievers and corticosteroid injections. If the condition has been allowed to progress too far, surgery to loosen the tendon holding the toes or a complete removal of the affected nerve may be necessary, though this only occurs in approximately 20% of cases.
Morton’s neuroma is a common foot ailment that is easy to avoid and treat with a little bit of attention and the right shoes. If you feel as if you are constantly walking on a fold in your sock or a stone in your shoe, call your podiatrist to make an appointment today. Those pains aren’t just in your head; they’re in your foot! And we can help you with that.