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Solutions for Cracked Heels

Cracked heels may make you want to think twice about showing off your feet in warmer weather. However, cracked heels may be harmful to more than just the appearance of your feet. If deep fissures and cracks develop in your heels, they may make walking and standing painful for you. Additionally, these openings make way for germs to enter through your skin and cause infection.

There are several different causes of cracked heels. One of the most common reasons for this ailment is dry skin. This problem may make your keeps feel rough tight and itchy. Dry skin may be caused by cold air, extremely hot water, harsh soaps, and aging. Skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis may eventually lead to dry skin. In some cases, complications may arise from cracked heels. Some of these complications are a loss of feeling in the heel, cellulitis, or a diabetic foot ulcer.

There are ways you can try to prevent getting cracked heels. One of the best ways to do so is to avoid wearing flip flops and sandals because these shoes increase your risk of drying out your feet. You should also avoid wearing shoes with a tall skinny heel, because these shoes cause your heel to expand sideways. At night, you should slather on a thick moisturizing cream on your feet and then cover them in socks to keep your feet moisturized overnight. Drinking water to stay hydrated is also a good way to ensure that your skin doesn’t become dry.

If you suffer from a severe case of cracked feet, you should make an appointment with your podiatrist to see what treatment methods are best for you.

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What is Flexible Flat Foot?

Flatfoot is classified as having the entire sole of the foot in contact or near contact to the ground while standing. The disorder is also known as fallen arches, because those affected have no arch in their feet. Flexible flatfoot and rigid flatfoot are the two types of flatfoot.

A person has flexible flatfoot if when sitting or standing on their toes, they have an arch that disappears when they stand with the entire foot on the ground. Flexible flatfoot may also be called “pediatric flatfoot” because the condition first appears in childhood. It is common among infants because the arch does not develop until the age of 5 or 6 years. Rigid flatfoot is not as common in children as it is with adults. This type of flatfoot is developed due to the weakening of tibialis posterior muscle tendon, a major supporting structure of the foot arch. Development of this deformity is progressive and shows early signs of pain and swelling that begins at the inside arch of the foot and moves to the outside of the foot below the ankle. More severe cases can possibly lead to arthritis of the foot and ankle joints.

Although most cases of flatfoot involve people born with the condition, some less common causes are obesity, diabetes, pregnancy, and osteoporosis. In some cases, flatfoot may come with no symptoms at all and does not require any type of treatment. With other cases though, symptoms may include pain in the shin, knee, hips and lower back. If a person with flatfeet experiences such symptoms, a health care provider may suggest using orthotic devices or arch supports, which may reduce the pain. Wearing supportive shoes can also prove more comfortable with flatfeet and staying away from shoes with little support such as sandals. Other methods to relieve pain also include stretching the Achilles tendon properly and using proper form when doing any physical activity. In addition, losing weight can reduce the stress on your feet and reduce the pain.

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What is a Podiatrist?

A podiatrist is a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine who treats the foot, ankle, and related structures of the leg. If you are having any pain, injuries, or abnormalities in these areas, it is best that you seek help from a podiatrist.

Podiatrists complete four years of training in a podiatric medical school. Their training is like that of other physicians, and they may go on to complete a fellowship training after a residency training. Some podiatrists are board certified meaning they have advanced training, clinical experience, and have taken an exam to prove their skills. Certifying boards for podiatry are the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery and the American Board of Podiatric Medicine. Podiatrists may work in private practices, hospitals, clinics, or they may even become professors at colleges of podiatric medicine.

While in college, those who want to be podiatrists often take biology, chemistry, and physics classes in preparation for podiatry school. In podiatry school, students study how the bones, nerves, and muscles work together to help you move around. Additionally, they study injuries and how to properly diagnose and treat them. Admittance into podiatric medical school requires the completion of 90 semester hours of undergraduate study with a good grade point average, and acceptable scores on the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test)

Podiatrists treat many different conditions such as: aching feet, ankle pain, bunions, corns, hammertoes, fungus, ingrown toenails, plantar fasciitis, sprains and more. Common forms of treatment for these conditions are physical therapy, drugs, or surgery. Podiatrists may also recommend corrective shoe inserts, custom-made shoes, plaster casts, and strappings to correct deformities.

Even if you are someone whose feet are in generally good condition, you should still visit a podiatrist to have your feet properly exfoliated and maintained, or to make sure you are looking after your feet properly.

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Foot Pain

The feet, being the foundation of the body, carry all of the body’s weight and are therefore prone to experiencing pain and discomfort. If you are experiencing foot pain, it is important to determine where in the foot you are experiencing this pain to help discover the cause of it. While pain can be experienced virtually anywhere in the foot, the most common sites of foot pain are in the heel and ankle.   

Heel pain can be due to a multitude of conditions including plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, and heel spurs. Pain experienced in the ankle can be a sign of an ankle sprain, arthritis, gout, ankle instability, ankle fracture, or nerve compression. In more serious cases, pain in the foot can be a sign of improper alignment or an infection.

Foot pain can be accompanied by symptoms including redness, swelling, stiffness and warmth in the affected area. Whether the pain can be described as sharp or dull depends on the foot condition behind it. It is important to visit your local podiatrist if your foot pain and its accompanying symptoms persist and do not improve over time.

Depending on the location and condition of your foot pain, your podiatrist may prescribe certain treatments. These treatments can include but are not limited to prescription or over-the-counter drugs and medications, certain therapies, cortisone injections, or surgery.

If you are experiencing persistent foot pain, it is important to consult with your foot and ankle doctor to determine the cause and location. He or she will then prescribe the best treatment for you. While milder cases of foot pain may respond well to rest and at-home treatments, more serious cases may take some time to fully recover.

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What to Know About a Broken Toe

Trauma to the foot, especially the toes, can occur in many ways. Banging them, stubbing them, or dropping something on them are a few different ways this trauma can occur. Given the fact that toes are positioned in front of the feet, they typically sustain the brunt of such trauma. When trauma occurs to a toe, the result can be a painful break or fracture. Another type of trauma that can break a toe is repeated activity that places stress on the toe for prolonged periods of time.

Broken toes can be categorized as either minor or severe fractures. Symptoms of minor toe fractures include throbbing pain, swelling, bruising on the skin and toenail, and the inability to move the toe with ease. Severe toe fractures require medical attention and are indicated when the broken toe appears crooked or disfigured, when there is tingling or numbness in the toe, or when there is an open, bleeding wound present on the toe.

Generally, a minor toe break will heal without long-term complications. However, it is important to discontinue activities that put pressure on the toe. It is best to stay off of the injured toe and immediately get a splint or cast to prevent any more additional movement of the toe bones. You can also immobilize your toe by placing a small cotton ball between the injured toe and the toe beside it. Then, tape the two toes together with medical tape. Swelling can be alleviated by placing an ice pack on the broken toe directly as well as elevating your feet above your head.

Severe toe fractures may be treated with a splint, cast, and in some cases, minor surgery, especially when the big toe has been broken. Due to its position and the pressure the big toe endures with daily activity, future complications can occur if it is not properly treated. Pain associated with minor toe fractures can be managed with over-the-counter pain medications. Prescription pain killers may be necessary for severe toe fractures.

The healing time for a broken toe is approximately four to six weeks. In severe cases where the toe becomes infected or requires surgery, healing time can take up to eight weeks or more. While complications associated with a broken toe are immediately apparent, it is important to note that there are rare cases when additional complications, such as osteoarthritis, can develop over time. You should immediately speak with your podiatrist if you think you have broken your toe due to trauma. They will be able to diagnose the injury and recommend the appropriate treatment options. 

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Diabetic Foot Conditions

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), diabetes is a condition that affects approximately 23.6 million Americans.  Around 750,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, and the disease’s most common form, Type 2 diabetes, makes up for 90 to 95 percent of these cases.  Type 2 diabetes is especially prevalent among older Americans, those who are obese, and those who lead sedentary lifestyles.

Complications of the disease may lead to several foot and ankle-related conditions.  The loss of nerve sensation, or neuropathy, can cause diabetics to lose feeling at the bottom of the feet and therefore leave them unaware of pain, pressure, and heat.  Decreased circulation is another complication of diabetes that can slow down the healing of wounds and injuries; this can lead to the development of foot ulcers.

To prevent foot ulcers from forming, diabetics should examine their feet every day for small cuts and wear shoes that curtail pressure.  Constant monitoring for the risk factors associated with ulcer formation can allow for early detection and therefore lessen the possibility of ulcers or, even worse, amputation.  The removal of calluses and ingrown toenails should be left to the podiatrist to avoid improper removal and possible infection.

Diabetic patients may also experience foot deformities due to complications in their feet, such as limited joint mobility, muscle atrophy, and decreased fat padding.  These complications can increase pressure in certain areas of the foot, which in turn can cause certain deformities, such as hammertoe, to form.  Another deformity, Charcot foot, develops due to the collapsing of microfractures in the bones of the feet.  The resulting deformity is a foot that is flattened and wider in appearance.

To help minimize pressure and prevent the development of these diabetes-related foot and ankle conditions, your podiatrist may consider using orthotics or special shoes.  Charcot foot may be treated using walkers, custom orthotic insoles, or non-weight-bearing or rigid weight-bearing casts or braces.  In more serious cases, surgery may be considered to treat more developed deformities.  Ulcers can be further cared for with the help of proper diet, medication to control glucose, intensive wound care, and infection treatment.

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Everyday Foot Care

Our feet are arguably one of the most important parts of the body. When it comes to health and beauty routines, the feet and toenails are usually ignored. You should always practice proper footcare to avoid any fungal infections or ailments that can not only ruin the appearance of your feet, but also cause pain. Ignoring any foot problems could potentially lead to an expensive doctor’s visit.

The most important step in proper foot care is to wash your feet daily. You should wash them with soap and water. Doing this will cleanse your feet of dirt, sweat and bacteria. It is crucial that you clean between the toes and pat your feet dry with a towel afterward. Your toenails are also an important part of the feet and you may find that they get dirtier in the summer when you wear sandals. It is important that you practice proper toenail care in addition to cleaning the rest of your feet. When trimming your nails, you should always trim straight across instead of in a rounded shape. Trimming in a curved shape may lead to ingrown toenails.

Moisturization is also important for foot care, and you should be moisturizing your feet every day. The best way to prevent dry feet is to rub lotion or petroleum jelly on your clean feet at night and put socks over them. In the morning, your feet should be soft and moisturized.

Another crucial step in proper foot care is to wear the right shoes for whichever activity you are going to partake in. In warmer weather, you should wear shoes that allow your feet to breathe. It is best to avoid shoes such as flip-fops that do not provide arch support. Tight shoes may also be harmful, and they may even cause you to develop bunions.

If you plan on taking a shower in a public area, you should be especially careful, so you do not pick up any fungi. Showers are prone to harboring different types of bacteria and fungi. You should always wear shower shoes or flip flops when walking around in locker rooms and public showers. Avoid sharing shoes with other people because this is another way that fungus may be spread.

If you are experiencing any problems with your feet you should speak with your podiatrist to determine the best method of treatment for you.

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Flip Flops and Feet

Flip flops are often a popular choice of footwear for many people. Flip flops allow your feet to breathe and give your toes the freedom of movement. They are easy to slip on and can be worn with virtually any style of clothing. Flip flops, however, despite their many benefits, can be detrimental for your foot health.

Despite their comfortableness, frequently wearing flip flops can create problems in the lower body over time. Issues mainly stem from the fact that people walk differently in flip flops compared to other footwear, such as sneakers. This is due to a change in one’s natural gait, which therefore creates stress in different parts of the body while hindering the body’s natural posture. Problems can also arise in the arches and balls of the feet. Flip flops provide little to no support to these areas.

Aside from long-term problems, flip-fops can also create short-term issues as well, such as ankle sprains and blisters. Weak materials that are flexible and bendable are generally used to manufacture flip flops. These materials make its wearers prone to both tripping and injuring their ankles. Flip flops can create blisters as the material rubs against the foot. People are much more at risk for infection while wearing flip flops due to their openness. This also makes it easier to scrape and cut the foot since there is a lack of protection. If these cuts are left untreated and uncovered, the risk then becomes greater.

To prevent the aforementioned occurrences, purchase a pair of flip flops that offer significant protection. The soles of the flip flops should not be floppy, but sturdy and firm, and should not significantly bend or wiggle when lifted from the floor. Flip flops made of high-quality materials will not be affected by this problem. While higher quality flip flops may be more expensive, they will last longer and provide better protection compared to a cheaper pair. Brand name flip flops sold from a quality manufacturer are a dependable option.

There is no problem in wearing your favorite pair of flip flops so as long as you do not wear them daily or for extended periods of time. Flip flops should be replaced every 3-4 months to ensure that they provide your feet with the best protection.

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Sever’s Disease

Sever’s disease, also known as calcaneal apophysitis is a common bone disorder that occurs during childhood. The disease is defined as an inflammation of the growth plate in the heel. When a child has a growth spurt, his heel bone grows faster than the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in his leg. This disease is a result of overuse. The people who are most likely to be affected by this disease are children who are in a growth spurt, especially boys who are from the ages of 5 to 13 years old. 60% of children with Sever’s disease have both heels involved.

Symptoms of this disease are heel pain that intensifies during running and jumping activities. The pain is typically localized to the posterior part of the heel. Symptoms may be severe, and they can easily interfere with daily activities. Children who play soccer, baseball, and basketball are more likely to develop Sever’s disease.

Your doctor will diagnose your child based on his or her symptoms, x-rays are generally not helpful in diagnosing this disease. Your doctor may examine both heels and ask your child questions about his or her activity level in sports. Your doctor may then use the squeeze test on your child’s heel to see if there is any pain. Nevertheless, some doctors might still use x-rays to rule out any other issues such as fractures, infections, and tumors.

Sever’s disease can be prevented by maintaining good flexibility while your child is growing. Another prevention method is to wear good-quality shoes that have firm support and a shock-absorbent sole. Sever’s disease can be treated by ceasing any activity that causes heel pain. You should apply ice to the injured heel for 20 minutes 3 times a day. Additionally, orthotics should be used for children who have high arches, flat feet, or bowed legs.

If you suspect your child has Sever’s disease, you should make an appointment with your podiatrist to have his or her foot examined. Your doctor may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen to relieve pain. In more severe cases, your child may need a cast to rest his or her heel. Fortunately, Sever’s disease does not cause long-term foot problems. After treatment, your child should start to feel better within two weeks to two months.

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Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains occur when ligaments that support the ankle stretch beyond their limits and tear. These types of injuries are very common and can occur in people of all ages. Sprains may range from mild to severe, depending on how much damage is done to the ligaments. If a sprain goes untreated, a more severe sprain may occur which can further damage the ankle. Repeated ankle sprains can lead to chronic ankle pain.

There are some risk factors that can increase your risk of suffering a sprained ankle. Those who participate in sports, walk on uneven surfaces, have a prior ankle injury, are in poor physical condition, or wear improper shoes are more likely to get a sprained ankle.

There are a few symptoms to look out for if you suspect you are suffering from a sprained ankle. Some common symptoms are swelling, bruising, tenderness, and instability of the ankle. In cases where the tearing of the ligaments is severe, there may be a “popping” sound when the strain occurs.

The RICE method is proven to be effective in treating ankle sprains. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Rest is important for treatment, especially within the first 24 to 48 hours. You should also ice your sprained ankle for the first 48 hours for 20 minutes at a time. A small piece of cloth should be placed between the ice and the affected area. For the compression step, you should wear a brace that is snug, but not too tight that it cuts off circulation. When choosing a brace, be sure to choose one that is suitable for the type of ankle sprain you have. Lastly, you should elevate your foot above the heart as often as possible.

After you treat a sprain, you should go through rehabilitation to prevent the injury from occurring again. There are three phases to the rehab process. The first phase involves resting, protecting, and reducing the swelling of the injury. The second phase consists of restoring the ankle’s flexibility, range of motion, and strength. The third phase consists of slowly returning to activity and maintenance exercises.

If you suspect you have an ankle sprain, you shouldn’t hesitate to consult with your podiatrist. Your podiatrist will be able to give you a proper diagnosis and a suitable treatment option for your condition.

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