Posts for: December, 2018
Whether you enjoy traversing the winter landscapes or you stay cozied up inside under the blankets, proper foot care during winter is critical for your health. If your feet aren’t dressed properly when you step outside, you are putting yourself at risk for a variety of cold injuries. Inside your home, feet still play a large part in body temperature regulation and comfort. Consider these handy tips to keep your feet healthy this winter.
When You’re Inside:
- At a minimum, wear socks indoors to keep your feet toasty warm. This helps your body retain heat, so you can lower the thermostat and your utility bill.
- Wearing shoes inside is better than a pair of socks. Designate a pair of shoes or slippers for indoor use only and put them on as soon as you get home.
- Use rugs and runners on cold floors to help protect feet if you insist on going barefoot. This can also help prevent slips and falls from snow tracked inside.
- Don’t put your feet next to a direct heat source to warm them. If your feet are cold, you may not feel the true heat of the fireplace or radiator.
When You’re Outside:
- Wear thick, sweat-wicking socks such as wool. Don’t be fooled into thinking ski socks are warmer. They simply have extra cushioning where the ski boot hits the foot and shin.
- Change your socks and shoes immediately if your feet get wet. Wet feet are subject to frostbite and other cold injuries.
- Winter shoes and boots need to have a good tread for walking on snow and ice. Avoid wearing high heels or flip-flops that expose feet to the cold.
READ MORE: Cold Injuries
If you want to avoid cold injuries and stay healthy this winter, then you need to pay attention to your feet. Proper foot care in winter can help promote overall well-being and health. If you are experiencing pain or symptoms of a cold injury, call the FAAWC today to schedule your appointment.
What goes around comes around. And around and around and around…
The four chambers of your heart pump approximately 2000 gallons of blood through your heart and around your body each day. Your life depends on this blood circulating properly. But when your circulatory system isn’t functioning fully, you may end up with intermittent claudication.
Intermittent claudication is a condition in which leg muscles become blood deprived during movement and exercise. This manifests as cramping, weakness, numbness, tingling, or pain in the legs and feet. Pain and weakness will be temporary until the legs are rested but will return immediately upon resuming activity. Long-term intermittent claudication can cause shiny or blotchy skin, hair loss on the legs, and perpetually cold feet.
Intermittent claudication is a symptom of a more serious condition called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis occurs when the arteries in your legs have become blocked by plaque buildup. Because this happens over time, intermittent claudication mostly affects adults over 50 years old. Certain risk factors—including obesity, smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease—can increase your chances of developing intermittent claudication.
Your podiatrist can diagnose intermittent claudication by comparing the blood pressure in your ankles to each other and to the blood pressure of your arm. A radically reduced blood pressure in one or both legs can indicate an issue. In some cases, the pulse may be absent in one leg if there is a total blockage. Ultrasounds, MRA (magnetic resonance angiography), and other scans can also give doctors a fuller picture of the underlying atherosclerosis and any blockages.
Intermittent claudication can be controlled with lifestyle changes such as smoking cessation, losing weight eating healthier, and walking for exercise. Associated conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes all need to be well controlled. Your physician may prescribe medications to reduce clots and help improve blood flow. Complete blockages may require surgical intervention.
While intermittent claudication itself is not life or limb threatening, it can have a significant impact on your health and quality of life. If you’ve been experiencing weakness, tingling, or pain in your legs with simple activity, call the FAAWC today. The sooner you call, the sooner you’ll be on your way to better health.
‘Tis the season…
…for cold injuries that is!
If you’re going outside this winter, you need to be aware of the different types of cold injuries, what they feel and look like, and how to treat them. Cold injuries can be temporary or serious and life-threatening. Keep an eye out for these common cold-related problems.
Hypothermia occurs when the body is losing heat faster than it can produce it. The average body temperature is 98.6 degrees. Hypothermia begins to set in when the body drops below 95 degrees. Hypothermia occurs in three stages
- Increased shivering and reduced blood circulation
- Weak pulse, slow breathing, confusion, and lack of coordination
- Shivering ceases, weak or absent respiration and pulse, loss of consciousness
If you or someone you’re with is experiencing hypothermia, get them to warmth immediately. Remove any wet clothing and wrap the affected person in blankets. Warm, non-alcoholic drinks and hot-water compresses on the neck, chest, and groin areas can help with rewarming.
Frostnip is the first stage leading to frostbite. Blood vessels in the skin constrict to direct blood flow and heat to the internal organs. Frostnip mostly occurs on exposed skin such as ears, noses, and fingers. The skin may turn pale or bright red and feel extremely cold to the touch. Numbness in the affected area is common. Frostnip is generally not serious and can be combatted by seeking warmth. Do not use direct heat as you may not be able to correctly gauge temperature due to numbness.
Frostbite occurs when the extremities are exposed to extreme cold. In mild or superficial frostbite, ice crystals form within the top layers of the skin. Skin changes from red to pale white and the affected extremity may tingle or even hurt with a pins-and-needles feeling. Numbness soon follows. In severe frostbite, ice crystals penetrate through the skin to the tissue beneath. Pain may dissolve as numbness sets in. Frostbite can result in permanent tissue death at this stage.
Treatment for both superficial and severe frostbite involves a gradual rewarming of the body. Never try to rewarm with direct heat and do not attempt to thaw frostbite if there is any chance of refreezing as this can result in additional complications and a higher chance of extremity amputation.
Chilblains, also known as pernio, occur after exposure to prolonged cold but not freezing temperatures. Chilblains can be recognized by sores or bumps that appear after exposure to cold. This can also result in redness, swelling, and itching. Unlike frostbite, chilblains are generally not dangerous and will recede over one to three weeks. However, open sores can lead to infection and further complications. Chilblains occurring on the feet should be treated by a podiatrist to avoid infection.
The best way to avoid a cold injury is to stay indoors and keep warm. If you do go outside, be sure to wear proper socks, gloves, and other winterwear to protect yourself from the cold. At the first sign of a cold injury, seek shelter and warmth immediately. If you’ve suffered a cold-related injury to your feet, make an appointment with the FAAWC today!
Edema is often written off as a fancy term for swelling, something that happens all the time. But swelling is a side effect, meaning you have an underlying injury, condition, or disease that needs to be treated. Often misunderstood and ignored, edema can lead to some very negative results.
What is edema?
Edema is a buildup of fluid in body tissues, resulting in swelling. One of the most common places for edema to occur is in the ankles or legs. This is called peripheral edema.
Why does edema occur?
Edema has many diverse causes. It can occur as a result of pregnancy, medication side effects, or be a symptom of an underlying disease such as congestive heart failure, liver cirrhosis, or kidney disease. The buildup of fluid is caused by salt retention, which holds excess water in the tissues.
Read More: Two Sides of Poor Circulation
How do I recognize edema?
Edema can be identified by swelling present in tissues underlying the skin. Your skin may look shiny or tightly stretched. When the skin is pressed, a dimple may appear and be present for several minutes. Because your feet, ankles, and legs are swollen, clothing, socks, and shoes will fit differently or not at all. Your legs may also feel heavier and walking can become difficult.
What are the negative effects of edema?
Edema that stretches the skin can leave you open to dermatitis (itchy skin), wounds, infection, and ulcers. Due to restricted blood flow, these ulcers may take months to heal or require amputation in severe cases. Persistent edema with pain can also be a symptom of a clotted vein (deep vein thrombosis) in the leg. Decreased circulation can also decrease the elasticity of the arteries, veins, and joints.
Read More: Ulcer FAQs
How can I treat edema?
Some edema can be reduced or eliminated with the use of medications to remove fluid and by changing your daily salt intake. Other treatments for edema include compression socks, elevation, exercise, and weight loss. However, edema is truly a side effect of another disease or condition, and when this occurs, the disease or condition leading to edema needs to be treated to affect the edema itself.
Whether your peripheral edema is the result of a twisted ankle, a pregnancy, or vein disease, it’s important to see a podiatrist. Early treatment and long-term management are key to avoiding negative side effects and keeping you healthy and active. If you have edema, especially without an obvious cause, make an appointment today!