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Posts for tag: home remedies

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

This winter has seen record setting low temperatures and all that cold air can do horrific things to your skin and feet. Skin needs moisture to retain its smooth texture, but winter brings a lack of humidity that can leave your heels screaming for more. Not only is dry air causing our heels to crack, but it’s also a combination of dehydration (we tend to drink less water in winter) and our preference for hot showers. Soaking your feet in water does not actually moisturize them. Hot water will pull essential oils from your skin and worsen the cracking.

 

READ MORE: Quick Fixes for Yoru Feet

For some, the inconvenience of cracked heels is only an aesthetic one, but for many others, cracked heels may lead to pain when walking (particularly when barefoot), open and bleeding wounds, or even infection. This can put a  damper on everything from snowman building to just going to work each day.

 

Even if you don’t currently feel pain from your heel fissures, you’ll want to do something about them. Adding moisture is the best thing to do, but we must remove the dry skin first to get to the healthy skin underneath. If your heel fissures are cracked open and bleed or are painful, come see your podiatrist rather then removing the skin yourself. If you heel fissures are just an ugly inconvenience, you can work on them yourself.

 

While taking a long hot bath will dry out your skin, soaking your feet for ten minutes in a warm tub will help soften the dead and dry layers so you can work them off with a pumice stone. Make sure you soak the stone itself as well then firmly rub your feet in circular patterns. Be sure to rinse the stone and your foot every few minutes to rinse away the dead skin cells. It may take several attempts before you start to see a difference, but take it slow and remember, you don’t have to get it all off in one go. The really important step comes next.

 

Moisturize! There’s no point in removing cracked, dry skin only to have more cracked, dry skin appear in its place. Make sure you are properly applying moisturizer to your heels and protect your feet properly during the day and night. Remove dead skin during your evening shower then lather on a thick moisturizer and put a pair of light cotton socks on overtop. This holds the lotion onto your feet so it can soak in overnight. You can do the same during the day, but make sure it’s a pair of warm wool socks. Don’t walk around your home barefoot in winter as this can exacerbate already dry heels. Be sure to use a thick moisturizer, but avoid dyes and perfumes.

 

We may pray for the ice to crack so it can melt and be gone, but a dry, cracked heel won’t go away so easily. If home remedies don’t seem to be cutting it, make an appointment with your podiatrist or with our PediCare salon. Our certified technicians are trained to remove callused and cracked skin gently, leaving your heels smooth and pretty.

 

READ MORE: Year-Round Foot Care

Labor day is just around the corner (September 4th – in case you didn’t know) and it’s a day that celebrates the contributions common working folk have made to the social and economic growth of America. In a strangely ironic way, Americans celebrate this holiday shopping and enjoying time outdoors while the common working folk continue to labor, mostly in the retail and food service industries. People who work on their feet all day have an increased chance of major foot and leg problems. Just a short list of possible conditions include varicose veins, heel pain, leg or ankle swelling, bunions, plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, joint damage, fallen arches, poor circulation…should I go on?! Since that’s a bit too many to go through one-by-one, let’s look at how best we can avoid any or all of these from occurring in the first place.

The Right Shoes

There is nothing so valuable to your foot health as wearing the right shoes. For active jobs you need proper footwear that has the right features for your profession. When you shop for shoes, do so at the end of the day and make sure to try on both shoes to check for foot size differentiation. Stilettos are not good for daily wear. Save them for the extra special occasions and choose a stylish low heel (1-2 inches) instead for those long days in the office. If you’re in the food service industry, be sure to find shoes with enough tread to give you stability on wet floors. Making good decisions from the start can help avoid injury in the first place

…And Other Important Accessories

Let’s say you work outside and need heavy work boots in hot weather; your feet probably sweat. To avoid problems with fungal infections like athlete’s foot, keep your feet cool and dry with sweat-wicking socks and foot deodorizing powders. If you have existing foot problems like flat feet, you need to have special orthotics to give additional support. Proper shoe inserts align the body and alleviate more than just foot pain. They can straighten the spine, alleviate pain from your toes to your shoulders, and increase your circulation. If you struggle with leg swelling, you may need to consider wearing compression hose

Stretching

You may think it sounds mad to say that those who work on their feet all day need to do extra foot exercises, but in fact, stretching overused muscles can help prevent chronic injury for those who rely on their feet for their work. When your muscles stay in the same position for extended periods of time, like those who stand for most of the day, they can literally ‘freeze’ in place. For those with active jobs, who repeat the same motions over and over again, overuse leading to redness, tenderness, and strain is common. Try basic stretches like toe raises to work your calves or try removing your shoes to roll a tennis ball under your arches for a few minutes every few hours. Stretching now can lead to fewer problems later and it doesn’t have to take very long. In addition to stretching, try raising your feet during lunch breaks.

Home Care

I’ve had days where it was hard to take a bathroom break, much less time to stretch or put my feet up. In that case, I need to pamper my tired dogs when I finally get home. One of the best things you can do for your feet is sitting down, alleviating pressure on the feet and knees. If your ankles show signs of swelling, raise them and pack on the ice to reduce inflammation. Don’t forget to pamper yourself every once in awhile too. Regular pedicures can help reduce buildup of dead skin and keep nails healthy and free from infection and ingrown toenails.

Seeing Your Podiatrist

When in doubt, see your podiatrist. A quick trip to the doctor when you first experience symptoms can do a lot to keep healing time to a minimum and your work efficiency to a maximum. Don’t wait until you have to miss work due to your foot problems, make your appointment today.

 

I hope that everyone has a great Labor Day full of safe fun and proper footwear, and for those who have to work and be on their feet all day, make sure to follow our instructions to avoid a painful ending. Happy Labor Day all!

Let’s go back to high school Anatomy class. The human heart has four chambers that beat in rhythm. Blood is pumped into the heart by your veins and pumped out of your heart by your arteries. If you have poor circulation in your legs and feet, it could be caused by a problem with either your veins or your arteries. Both have very different symptoms, but they are equally bad for your health.

Here is a quick rundown on the two main culprits: Venous Insufficiency and Peripheral Artery Disease.

Venous Insufficiency

Your veins carry blood back to the heart. If they are not functioning properly, your circulation becomes an uphill battle, literally. Veins are equipped with valves that open and shut and keep the blood flowing in the correct direction. When these valves have trouble opening and closing it can lead to Venous Insufficiency. Signs of venous insufficiency include swelling, varicose veins, feeling of heaviness in the foot, and could eventually lead to leg ulcers. You are more likely to develop venous insufficiency if you are over the age of 60, you smoke, you are obese or lead a sedentary lifestyle, or if you have high cholesterol.

Peripheral Artery Disease

Arteries carry freshly pumped blood away from the heart to your extremities. When your arteries are constricted, narrowed, or blocked, you may experience symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease. Contributors to PAD include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and leading a sedentary lifestyle. Persons suffering from PAD may have mild symptoms such as persistently cold hands and feet, or more serious issues like chronic leg cramping, burning sensation, or numbness.

Wearing compression hose or elevating your feet are good home remedies to help alleviate symptoms. But that’s not enough; stop smoking, get your cholesterol to a healthy level, and increase your exercise. Treating the underlying causes of either condition is the only way to ensure long-term relief. If these conditions are left untreated for too long, they both can lead to life threatening issues that go way beyond your feet. If you experience any of these symptoms, talk to your podiatrist about your circulation today.

Throughout August, we have talked about different types of orthotics, but let’s concentrate today just a little on over-the-counter insoles, which are so readily available you can pick them up with your weekly groceries. First of all, it’s important to know that there is a subtle difference between insoles and orthotics. Orthotics are generally made of a stiff material and are designed to support the foot. Insoles are designed primarily for cushion and offer limited support while adding comfort instead. Over-the-counter insoles are often advertized as orthotics when they really aren’t. This is what leads to a lot of confusion and debate within the medical community.

On one side of the debate, the affordability and ease associated with acquiring OTC insoles makes them a great choice for those who want support or cushion, but can’t dig very far into their wallet. On the other side of the debate, many people are being taken in by the kiosk signs advertizing a “custom fit”, which is not at all custom. Buying something OTC that claims to be custom is a game of chance. Sometimes the OTC insole will provide exactly what you need and sometimes it may end up doing more damage than good.

Overall, Podiatrists will be on both sides of the fence. We at the FAAWC carry many styles of OTC insoles and can help you get the closest fit to your needs if custom orthotics aren’t necessary. We do however encourage you to book a visit with us for an evaluation before you head to your local superstore to pick up a pair. Just as we talked about accommodative versus functional orthotics, there are so many factors to consider when choosing an OTC insole that having your podiatrist there to lead you can be invaluable. At the very least, talk to your podiatrist about your needs and make the best choice for you. Just remember, knowledge is power and the more you know about your feet and what they need, the better your decision making power will be.