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Posts for tag: awareness month

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.

May is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Awareness Month.

If you weren’t aware that this even existed, you are not alone. After all, that’s what an awareness month is for, making us aware of a disease that doesn’t often get a lot of press.

In fact, Ehlers-Danlos is not just one syndrome; it’s a series of 13 connective-tissue disorders that result primarily in various joint and skin related issues, but sometimes manifest in dangerous ways. It all has to do with your genetics. In fact, it’s as common as 1 in 5,000 people. It affects any of 12 different genes, and which one determines how they appear in physical symptoms.

Many types have normal life expectancies, but some can result in shorter-than-expected lifespan or painful complications. The wide array of symptoms range from things you probably know like hyper-elastic skin or rheumatoid arthritis-like finger deformities and many obscure syndromes, such as levido reticularis or Arnold-Chiari malformation. Trust me, there’s too many to list here, so we’re just going to look at one type: hypermobility.

People with this type of EDS have very loose joints, which allows for excessive movement and flexibility. However, while it may look cool to bend your body in strange directions, this condition can have your joints dislocating frequently, causing painful and lasting damage. Physical evaluation and family history are the only tools for diagnosis, and there is no known cure for the disease, only treatment for its symptoms.

Don’t worry though. You should know by now if you have EDS. But it’s always worth a quick Google search to learn more about it, especially since you are now aware that it’s Ehlers-Danlos Awareness Month!

November is American Diabetes Month. Diabetes is a word we hear all the time, but how many of us really know that much about it? To kick off this awareness month, let’s take a look at what diabetes is, how to recognize it, and what it means for our feet. To start, it’s important to know that there are two types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2.

Type 1 is hereditary and there is no way to calculate your risks of having it. In type 1 diabetes, the body destroys the cells that produce insulin and eventually the body stops producing insulin altogether. When the body needs energy, it takes sugars and starches and turns them into glucose. This glucose must be transferred between your blood and tissue cells by a hormone called insulin. If the body stops producing this, we must supplement with insulin shots. Only 5% of people with diabetes have type 1 and it is generally diagnosed in children and young adults.

With type 2 diabetes, the body still produces insulin, but can’t use it properly. This is called insulin resistance. Surprisingly, scientists don’t know the exact cause of type 2 diabetes (sadly, scientists don’t know exactly what causes type 1 diabetes either, but research is under way to find the source and eventually work towards a cure), but there are specific pre-existing conditions and risk factors that can increase your likelihood of type 2 diabetes. These include: history of hyperglycemia, obesity, physical inactivity, genetics, age, and high blood pressure, to name a few.

Although they differ slightly, both types of diabetes can lead to hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia. If a patient’s glucose levels get too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia) they may experience extreme thirst, frequent urination, general weakness, persistent exhaustion, nausea and vomiting, hallucinations, and even a stroke or heart attack.

Management of symptoms is similar for both types of diabetes. People living with type 1 diabetes can manage their health with a combination of insulin shots, well-planned meals, and a fair amount of exercise. Type 2 diabetes requires similar treatment, but oral medications are prescribed in place of insulin.

Folks living with diabetes need to pay special attention to their feet. Frequent hyperglycemic attacks can reduce blood flow and cause nerve damage, meaning any potential foot problems may go unnoticed until they have seriously progressed. If you have diabetes and have not seen a podiatrist lately, we recommend making an appointment immediately. Early prevention and recognition of problems will lead to prolonged foot health and help you avoid future foot issues.