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5 quick and easy tips to healthy feet and legs | The Podiatrist and yourfeetnz

one pair has to last a lifetime

There are many causes of leg pain right from muscle cramps and inflammation of tendons to arthritis, varicose veins and nerve damage. Leg pain due to muscle strain following an injury or wearing tight shoes for a long time can be prevented by following few simple tips:

  1. Stretch the leg muscle: One of the most effective ways to prevent leg pain due to a sudden muscle twist or cramp is to stretch the muscle. This not only improves blood flow to the injured muscle but it also helps in reducing muscle tension thereby relieving muscle soreness.
  2. Take a warm shower: If you suffer from leg pain, then take a warm shower to relax the muscles. If taking a bath is not feasible, then placing a heating pad on the affected areas can also help. A heat pack works best if the pain is due to a previous injury as it not only relaxes blood vessels but also improves blood circulation, alleviating leg pain.
  3. Wear a proper fitting athletic shoe: Most people fail to choose the right fitting shoe, which is one of the common causes of leg and heel pain. To get the right fit, determine the shape of your foot using the ‘wet test’. For this, step out of the shower onto a surface that will show your footprint, like a brown paper bag. If you have a flat foot, you will see an impression of your whole foot on the paper. If you have a high arch, you will only see the ball and heel of your foot. When shopping, look for athletic shoes that match your particular foot pattern.
  4. Choose the right sports shoe: Not many people are aware that different types of shoes are specially designed to meet your sports requirement. Did you know running long distances in court-style sneakers can contribute to shin splints? It is important to choose the shoes according to your sport or fitness routine.
  5. Go slow if you are a beginner at the gym: One of the common mistakes that most people commit is to overexert on the first day of the gym, which not only exerts pressure on the knee but also causes muscle soreness and leg pain. The key to preventing leg pain and sticking to your workout routine is to build your fitness level slowly. You can start off with less strenuous workouts and then gradually increase the duration, intensity, and frequency of your exercise regimen.

For any foot problems, contact The Podiatrist.

http://www.thepodiatrist.co.nz

 

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Bunions- aarrggghhh. | The Podiatrist and yourfeetnz

Bunions may progress in size and severity

Many people with bunions suffer from discomfort and pain from the constant irritation, rubbing, and friction of the enlargement against shoes. The skin over the toe becomes red and tender. Because this joint flexes with every step, the bigger the bunion gets, the more it hurts to walk. Over time, bursitis or arthritis may set in, the skin on the bottom of the foot may become thicker, and everyday walking may become difficult—all contributing to chronic pain.

Wearing shoes that are too tight is the leading cause of bunions. Bunions are not hereditary, but they do tend to run in families, usually because of a faulty foot structure.

Foot injuries, neuromuscular problems, flat feet, and pronated feet can contribute to their formation. It is estimated that bunions occur in 33 percent of the population in Western countries.

Treatment for Bunions

Because they are bone deformities, bunions do not resolve by themselves. The goal for bunion treatment is twofold: first, to relieve the pressure and pain caused by irritations, and second to stop any progressive growth of the enlargement.

Commonly used methods for reducing pressure and pain caused by bunions include:

Protective padding, often made from felt material, to eliminate the friction against shoes and help alleviate inflammation and skin problems.

Removal of corns and calluses on the foot.

Changing to carefully fitted footwear designed to accommodate the bunion and not contribute toward its growth.

Orthotic devices—both over-the-counter and custom made—to help stabilize the joint and place the foot in the correct position for walking and standing.

Exercises to maintain joint mobility and prevent stiffness or arthritis.

Splints for nighttime wear to help the toes and joint align properly. This is often recommended for adolescents with bunions, because their bone development may still be adaptable.

Surgical Treatment

Depending on the size of the enlargement, misalignment of the toe, and pain experienced, conservative treatments may not be adequate to prevent progressive damage from bunions. In these cases, bunion surgery, known as a bunionectomy, may be advised to remove the bunion and realign the toe.

If you have any foot problems, contact The Podiatrist.

www.thepodiatrist.co.nz

Agony of ‘de-feet’ or how to prevent ingrown toenails | The Podiatrist and yourfeetnz

ingrown toenail

You know we expect an awful lot from our feet. We walk, run and jump on them. We cram them into socks and shoes. We use them to stand a little taller. We subject them to sand, rocks and heaven knows what hazards they endure while walking barefoot in our homes. Then we complain bitterly when they hurt. Makes sense to me.

Want to talk about foot pain? Talk about an ingrown toenail. Also known as onychocryptosis or unguis incarnatus (I dare you to pronounce those words) an ingrown toenail occurs when a sharp corner of the toenail digs into the skin at the end or side of the toe. Although it can happen to any toe, it’s most likely to be your big toe.

An ingrown toenail can be the result of trauma, such as stubbing your toe, having an object fall on your toe, or engaging in activities that involve repeated pressure on the toes, such as kicking or running.

The most common cause of ingrown toenails is incorrect trimming. Cutting your nails too short encourages the skin next to the nail to fold over the nail. Another cause of ingrown toenails is wearing shoes that are tight or short. Certain nail conditions are often associated with ingrown toenails. For example, if you have had a toenail fungal infection or if you have lost a nail through trauma, you are at greater risk for developing an ingrown toenail.

Treatment of Ingrown Toenails

Home care:

If you don’t have an infection or any medical conditions that may affect your healing, you can soak your foot in room-temperature water with Epsom salts, and gently massage the side of the nail fold to help irrigate the area.
Avoid attempting “bathroom surgery.” Repeated cutting of the nail can cause the condition to worsen over time. If your symptoms fail to improve, make an appointment with The Podiatrist.

Home treatment is strongly discouraged if you suspect you have an infection, or if you have a medical condition that puts your feet at high risk, for example diabetes, nerve damage in the foot, or poor circulation.

Preventing Ingrown Toenails

Many cases of ingrown toenails may be prevented by following these two important tips:
•Trim your nails properly. Cut your toenails in a fairly straight line, and don’t cut them too short. You should be able to get your fingernail under the sides and end of the nail.
•Avoid poorly-fitting shoes. Don’t wear shoes that are short or tight in the toe box. Also avoid shoes that are loose, because they too cause pressure on the toes, especially when you run or walk briskly.

Myth Busting – Ingrown Toenails!

Myth: Cutting a “V” in the nail will reduce the tendency for the nail to curve downward.
Truth: Cutting a “V” does not affect the growth of the toenail. New nail growth occurs from the nail bed and will continue to grow in whatever shape the nail bed is in.

Myth: Repeated trimming of the nail borders is a good way to treat ingrown toenails.
Truth: Repeated nail trimming fails to correct future nail growth and can make the condition worse.

Myth: Cotton placed under the nail will relieve the pain.
Truth: Cotton placed under the nail can be harmful. It can easily harbour bacteria and encourage infection.

Myth: You can buy effective ingrown toenail treatments at the Pharmacy or Chemist.
Truth: Over-the-counter topical medications may mask the pain, but they fail to address the underlying problem.

Get started on resolving your foot problem today.
Visit The Podiatrist for all your foot care needs

http://www.thepodiatrist.co.nz

Preventing common foot problems: expert tips for improved podiatric health and overall wellness

These days, the vast majority of people are working to improve some aspect of their overall health. Popular resolutions can range from increased exercise and healthier eating habits to quitting smoking or simply taking a daily multivitamin; but amidst all these other goals, proper foot care often falls by the wayside. Common foor problems such as foot pain, ingrown nails, athlete’s foot or bunions, are all too often neglected at the outset – and subsequently permitted to progress to the point where professional treatment is required to reverse the problem. In most cases, improved preventative care is all it takes to keep these conditions at bay. However, some conditions may require professional treatment or even surgery: and before attempting to self-diagnose or self-treat any foot injury, pain or infection, it is important to consult The Podiatrist to ensure proper diagnosis and a safe solution for lasting health.

The following guidelines can help individuals keep their feet healthy and happy all year long – and make it easier for them to detect early symptoms and warning signs in order to seek prompt and effective podiatric treatment:

  • Ingrown Nails – Ingrown toenails can develop easily and without warning if nails are trimmed incorrectly or constricted in ill-fitting shoes. Left untreated, they can result in painful infections. Prevent ingrown toenails by cutting nails straight across and rounding the edges with a clean file — and take care to prioritize proper  trimming and sanitation techniques when frequenting nail salons to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Nail Fungus – Toenail fungus, or onychomycosis, is a common ailment that is particularly likely to affect athletes, elderly individuals and anyone with a genetic history of the disease. Fungus can start in a tiny portion of the nail and spread over time to the full nail, so frequent inspections (after bathing or while grooming, for example) are an essential preventative step. Take steps to avoid toenail fungus by keeping feet dry and clean, changing socks regularly and wearing shoes in public areas. For those already with nail fungus, consider advanced laser therapy for drug-free, long-lasting eradication of fungus and unsightly symptoms.
  • Bunions – Despite popular belief correlating bunions and badly-fitting shoes (such as high heels, flats and flip-flops), most bunions are in fact the result of inherited structural defects and have little relation to one’s footwear. That being said, shoes that lack the proper support may well exacerbate the pain and swelling symptomatic of bunions. Individuals suffering from continous foot painvisible swelling on the big toe joint or restricted motion of the foot should consult a podiatrist and consider the benefits of bunion surgery: because bunions are a progressive disorder, only surgery will reverse painful symptoms and allow patients to return to their normal activities in comfort.

Don’t wait to begin taking better care of your feet: commit to a better preventative care routine today, and consider visiting The Podiatrist for a consultation.

www.thepodiatrist.co.nz

Things you should know about flat feet.

Q: What causes flat feet? Is it a common condition?

A: Flat feet are a common condition, estimated to occur in approximately 20 to 30 percent of the population. There are many reasons why an individual may have a flat-foot condition.

First, there may be a rare congenital defect, which is present at birth, such as vertical talus, which manifests as a rigid rocker-bottom flat foot. But, generally, most infants and toddlers do have flat feet because the arch structure has not yet developed. The development of the arch normally occurs during early childhood after 3 years of age.

In the 10- to 14-year-old range, a cause may be a condition called tarsal coalition. This is an abnormal connection between two bones in the foot which leads to a painful, spasticity (stiffness) of the peroneal tendon.

As we age, there are many reasons why an individual may develop a flattening of the arch, which is known as an acquired flat foot. These causes are developmental and include:

  • Connective tissue disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Endocrine disorders such as diabetes mellitus.
  • Osteoarthritis.
  • Tight Achilles tendon.
  • Dysfunction of the posterior tibial tendon; when the tendon on the inside of the ankle loses its functionality.
  • Obesity.
  • Aging.
  • Trauma.

Finally, the hereditary or genetic predisposition to a flat foot is also a possible cause.

Q: What symptoms might someone with flat feet experience?

A: Symptoms are varied and depend upon the cause of the flat foot, the individual’s activity level and the type of footwear that is worn. An individual may present to the office with heel or arch pain (plantar fasciitis), Achilles tendinitis, pain in the subtalar joint or ankle discomfort. Patients will often have several symptomatic areas, have difficulty with exercise, and may even have knee, hip or back pain.

Q: When should someone with flat feet see a Podiatrist?

A: Typically a patient will not seek professional treatment unless they are symptomatic, except for those times when a parent may be concerned with their child’s foot structure or function. The question arises: If someone has a flat foot will they be symptomatic or develop problems later in life? The answer to this is, not everyone will develop issues later on. With that being said, medical treatment should be sought if one is symptomatic with pain or if the flat foot condition is severe (a significant rolling inward of the foot and ankle during walking).

Additionally, if one has noticed a change in their foot structure such as a sudden collapse of the arch or has a medical condition with decreased sensation
to their feet (such as in diabetes mellitus), there are sufficient studies that show the initial evaluation and periodic follow-ups with a podiatrist may help
prevent further complications.
Q: What are some easy solutions that people can try?

A: Wearing well structured shoes and sandals that provide adequate support to the arch structure of the foot. It is important to understand that one size does not fit all. Some flat foot cases may require custom-made orthotics, an ankle/foot brace, special shoes and in extreme cases, surgery.

Q: When is surgery necessary for flat feet?

A: Surgery is an alternative when conservative measures have not provided a satisfactory relief from pain and discomfort. Additionally, patients who are at risk for chronic breakdown or ulcerations on the bottom of their feet due to the complete loss of the arch structure are good candidates for surgical intervention to prevent further complications. For the most part, however, conservative and non-surgical treatment plans will be effective in the majority of cases.

Bunions: When Do They Become Something To Worry About?

Look down at your feet — would you know if you have a bunion?

Many people know the term ‘bunion’ and that it occurs on a foot, but don’t know exactly what a bunion is.

Most people think a bunion is an abnormal growth of bone at the base of the big toe. This is incorrect (at least in most cases). A bunion is actually a structural problem where the big toe joint becomes subluxed and drifts towards the smaller toes. A displaced bone, called a metatarsal, becomes prominent on the inside of the foot. The bunion simply refers to the enlarged prominent ‘knobby’ area

Bunions may progress in size and severity. A bunion may start of as minor issue and, over time, may develop into a severe disfiguring foot deformity. See below:

So if you have bunion, here are 10 important things you should know, as you consider treatment:

  1. Not all bunions are painful.
  2. The medical term is hallux abducto valgus.
  3. They come in different sizes: small, medium, large or severe.
  4. Genetics. You may have inherited your grandmothers feet.
  5. They occur more often in women than men.
  6. Pointy-toed shoes and high heels may result in bunions.
  7. Bunions may get bigger over time, or not.
  8. The bunion may cause problems with the lesser toes.
  9. Non-operative treatments are mostly aimed at treating the symptoms.
  10. Surgical treatment goals are to realign the natural position of the toe.

When to seek treatment?

There is not a specific pointwhen bunion sufferers ‘must’ start treatment despite the bunion severity. Some people begin treatment with the smallest bunion while others neglect the condition until severe. Reasons to seek medical treatment are:

  • Presence of Pain?
    Pain and discomfort is the most common reason to seek treatment. Pain directly on the bunion is a symptom of direct shoe pressure. Joint pain suggests
    arthritic degeneration. Pain on the ball of the foot is concerning for altered foot biomechanics and a sign of a bigger problem. Pain should not be ignored.
  • Interference with Activity?
    Some people wait until a bunion interferes with activities before seeking medical treatment and I think this is a mistake. Impact activities (such as
    running, tennis) may be more challenging to perform. If left ignored, simple everyday walking may become problematic. You should take measures that keep you  active and healthy.
  • Inability to Wear Certain Shoes? In this subset of patients, it’s the sheer size of the bunion preventing fashionable shoes that motivates treatment — not pain. These patients have learned to live with discomfort but chose fashion over foot health. Clearly, inability to wear shoes is a valid reason for intervention.
  • An Unsightly Bunion?
    Foot care experts are less concerned with cosmetic appearance as they are about pain, activity restrictions and overall foot function. Often insurance
    companies only cover medical bunion treatments if pain is present, regardless of size.
  • Overlapping toes?
    When the second toe has overlapped the big toe, it’s an obvious indicator of a global foot problem, and is often associated with collapse of the foot.
    Interestingly, these problems are not always painful as the condition develops overtime and the pain may be muted, or patients have accepted a certain amount of foot discomfort. The driving force for treatment becomes secondary problems such as metatarsal stress fractures or inability to fit shoes.

How to limit progression of a bunion?

It is important to understand that not all bunions become worse (or bigger). Some bunions never change in size. Others may progress onto a major foot deformity. Genetics play a big role and you may be ‘destined’ to develop a ‘bad’ bunion. Below are non-surgical measures to mitigate pain as well as limit the progression.

  • Smart Shoe Selection: Avoiding shoes that are bad for your foot health may be the best preventive measure you can take. Pointy toes shoes directly pushes on the big toe inappropriately, and in my opinion are ‘bunion formers.’ If the bunion becomes irritated, then spot stretching the shoe limits symptoms. High heels may also contribute to bunions due to altered foot mechanics — so limit time in them. Flip flops are considered a “poor footwear” choice by most health care professionals. Minimalist shoes seem to be a better lightweight alternative.
  • Counteract Muscle Spasms: Muscle spasms within the foot are often due to a muscular imbalance, and an important warning sign that muscles are trying to stabilize bone structure. Strained muscles are less effective at stabilizing the foot and a bunion may progress. Deep massage and mineral foot soaks ease tension in the foot.
  • Foot Strengthening:  It’s important to keep your foot muscles strong to counteract the muscular imbalance. Perform simple toe exercises daily — such as picking up  marbles (or a handkerchief) with your toes. Commercially available toe exercising devices may have therapeutic benefits but studies do not exist demonstrating efficacy.
  • Arch Supports: Bunions and foot deformities tend to occur in people with flat feet and/or ligamentous laxity. Arch supports provide extrinsic structure and promote a more ‘proper’ alignment and may limit bunions from getting bigger. Over the counter inserts are a good first start. Doctor-prescribed molded orthotics have the benefit of being custom to your foot and therapeutically tweaked.
  • Bunion Padding: A pad limits direct pressure and may prevent the pain cascade altogether. Chronic bunion inflammation can result in deeper bone problems, so prevention is beneficial. More importantly, a properly placed pad may provide a physical blockade that prevents the bunion from pushing out. Pads may be composed of felt, moleskin or gel.
  • Toe Spacers & Bunion Splints: The purpose of this intervention is to physically place the big toe in a more normal position. A toe spacer (often made of silicone) is worn while walking. A bunion splint is a useful device (worn while sleeping) to physically realign the big toe.

If you have a bunion, vist The Podiatrist, do what it takes to take care of your feet and prevent progression. If the above measures don’t help, then surgery may be inevitable.