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Posts for tag: inflammation

If the temperatures outside are keeping you indoors this time of year, you’re not alone. I hate the cold. For the brave souls who like to venture out into the snowy weather, a few words of caution. Your toes need to be protected! Proper footwear is always a must because frostbite and chilblains are common foot injuries brought on by the cold. As usual, they are easy to avoid if we understand how they happen and what to do about it.

 

Frostnip

Many people will know frostbite, but there is a milder form of cold injury called frostnip. Just because it’s milder, doesn’t mean it still isn't uncomfortable and bad for your feet. It generally begins in the toes. The skin will turn white or flush red and feel extremely cold to the touch. In a short time, this can lead to numbness or a feeling of pins and needles. Without rewarming, frostnip will lead to frostbite. Think of it as an early warning sign and get yourself indoors where your feet can get care. Soak your feet in water, but bring the temperature up very gradually. Don’t start with hot water; you probably can’t feel if it’s too hot and scalding your feet.

 

READ MORE: Winter Boot Buying Guide

 

Frostbite

In the cold, the blood vessels nearest the skin narrow, diverting blood to the core of the body to protect the vital organs. Unfortunately, this leaves fingers, toes, and nose tips left out in the cold. Literally. Since your body is no longer trying to warm those areas, they have no defense against cold injuries. If you leave them exposed, frostbite will slowly freeze the skin and tissue underneath. In severe cases, tissue will die and need to be surgically removed. If you think you are developing frostbite, seek medical treatment immediately.

 

Chilblains

Most people know what frostnip and frostbite are and how to avoid them, but there is another type of cold injury that can occur even when it's not below freezing. Chilblains is a condition in which the feet react to cold with inflammation. This causes red patches, itching, swelling, and can be accompanied by painful blisters, called pernio. Just like nail fungus likes to grow in warm and moist socks, chilblains like to form in cold and damp socks. Frostbite can onset quickly due to freezing temperatures, but chilblains occur from long exposure to mild cold and humidity. You may not even feel it happening, but long term damage is being done to your blood vessels. Symptoms can stick around for a while without proper treatment, so get yourself to a podiatrist asap.

 

To prevent any cold injury there are some basic steps to follow. Keep your feet warm at all times. When going outside, wear warm socks that pull moisture away from the skin (wool is a good choice). If you don’t have a lot of body fat to keep you warm, add an extra layer of socks. Same thing if you have excessively sweaty feet. Avoid rapid temperature changes if your feet do get too cold. Never warm up your feet if there is a chance of them refreezing before reaching proper medical care.

READ MORE: Keep Your Feet Warm

Last year we talked a little about heel pain and that brought up the topic of bursitis. Here’s a quick recap of that article:

  • Bursae are fluid filled sacs around the body that help muscles and tendons move smoothly over one another
  • When these bursae become inflamed it is called Bursitis and results in heel or foot pain
  • Bursitis is caused mainly through repeated misuse of the same area of the body but other factors such as inflammatory diseases might also be a factor
  • If the pain persists for more than a week or goes away and then comes back, you need to see your podiatrist

READ MORE: Heel Pain

While bursitis is a common cause of heel pain, it can cause pain in other places as well. The metatarsal bursa is located on the pad of your foot just under your toes and takes a lot of the weight of your everyday movements. If more strain is put on one toe than another, this can inflame the metatarsal bursa and cause pain. Pain from the metatarsal bursa will be noticeably worse if you are standing with bare feet on a hard floor.

The intermetatarsal bursa is located between the toes and can cause shooting pain through the top of the foot starting at the toes. Bursitis here can be caused by wearing improperly fitting shoes that squeeze your toes together or it can occur naturally as we age. As we grow older, the arches of our feet begin to weaken and fall putting more pressure on our toes. As this happens, bursitis can develop. Wearing shoes with wide toe boxes and good arch support can help avoid and relieve this pain.

The metatarsophalangeal bursa is located on the inner side of your foot next to your big toe. This is a common place for bursitis since friction from shoes is common on this part of the foot. Preexisting bunions in the same area can exacerbate inflammation of the metatarsophalangeal bursa. If the pain persists, you could end up having a very hard time finding comfortable shoes.

Bursitis of any kind can be recognized by pain, swelling, and redness. If you have these symptoms in any part of your foot (not just your heel) come and see us at the FAAWC. When left untreated, bursitis can become chronic and lead to other foot health issues down the road. Luckily, there are lots of treatment options and they are fairly simple. Your podiatrist will make a customized treatment plan for you and get you back on your feet in no time with no inflammation and no pain. What could be better than that?!

September is heel pain month. There are many causes of heel pain including stress fractures, tendonitis, bursitis, nerve entrapment, and tendon tear. Let’s take a quick look at a couple of these.

Bursitis:

There are small sacs of fluid throughout the body called bursae. These sacs exist where muscles and tendons slide across bone. A properly functioning bursae will help your body function smoothly, but occasionally these bursae can become inflamed which makes movement painful. The constant use of muscles that rub over the inflamed bursae can cause even more inflammation and make the problem worse.

Can you guess what the main symptom of bursitis is? Pain! This could be minor pain that causes small aches after repetitive use or it could be sudden sharp pain. Pain is usually worse when you press on the affected area and you may see redness and swelling.

There are many things that can lead to bursitis. Some of the most common include repeated minor impact of the same area or a sudden trauma to the area. There are secondary factors that can contribute, such as inflammatory diseases, gout, and even simple things like not stretching before exercising.

When this pain persists for a week or more, stops and then comes back, or is interfering with your daily activities, you need to make an appointment to see your podiatrist. Your podiatrist may take x-rays to rule out other causes of heel pain or order blood work to pinpoint the spot of inflammation.

Don’t be shy about heel pain. There are plenty of causes, but pain is never normal and is not likely to go away one it’s own. Stay tuned for info on the other causes of heel pain.