Posts for category: Foot Condition
With age, many people experience changes in their feet. This may include a change in their shape, a loss of the fatty pads that cushion the bottom of the feet, thinner, drier skin, and brittle nails. You may even develop arthritis.
As the feet change, they naturally develop more problems. But aching feet are not a natural part of growing old, or something to be tolerated. You can do many things now to help relieve pain, improve comfort and keep the spring in your step.
Taking good care of your feet has many benefits, including increasing your comfort, limiting the possibility of additional health issues, and keeping you active and mobile. The following tips can help keep feet feeling and looking their best into the golden years:
- Choose proper-fitting shoes with adequate support, a firm sole and a soft upper for your everyday activities.
- Walk—it’s the best exercise for your feet.
- Avoid going barefoot.
- Never cut corns or calluses on your own.
- Bathe your feet daily in lukewarm water with a mild soap.
- Moisturize daily.
- Trim and file toenails straight across.
- Inspect your feet daily. If you notice redness, cracks in the skin or strange sores, consult our office.
- Have your feet examined at least once a year.
There are literally hundreds of different foot ailments. Some are inherited, but for older people most foot conditions stem from the impact of years of wear and tear. The good news is that even among people in their retirement years, many foot problems can be treated successfully.
Never ignore the natural changes that aging brings. Since feet are referred to as the “mirror of health,” podiatrists are often the first to identify signs of systemic diseases, such as diabetes and arthritis. Regular visits can help prevent foot problems and alleviate pain to keep you active for life.
Also known as onychomycosis, toenail fungus can be painful, irritating and embarrassing. When you experience trauma to your nail, the nail bed is lifted, allowing fungus to invade. Without treatment, this fungus can grow and spread, particularly in dark, warm, moist environments, such as socks and shoes.
Common signs and symptoms of toenail fungus include:
- Discoloring or yellowing of the nail
- Thickening or crumbling of the nail
- Swelling around the nail
- Disfigured nails
- Streaks or spots down the side of the nail
- Foul-smelling debris under the nail
- Pain and discomfort
- Complete nail loss
Prevention is Key
Fungal infections can affect the fingernails as well as the toenails, but toenail fungus is more difficult to treat because toenails grow more slowly. Because removal of the fungus is challenging, prevention plays an important role in treatment.
- Keep nails neatly trimmed.
- Practice good foot hygiene, including daily washing with soap and water, drying feet and toes, carefully, and changing shoes regularly.
- Always wear shoes in public areas, such as showers, locker rooms and pools.
- Wear comfortable shoes that aren't too tight.
- Avoid wearing nail polish for long periods, as it prevents the nail from breathing and can seal in fungus.
Treatment of Toenail Fungus
If you do develop toenail fungus, especially if the infection has become painful, visit our office. People with a chronic illness like diabetes should always see a podiatrist if they notice any changes in their nails, as it may be an indication of a more serious issue.
To eliminate the fungus, a podiatrist may remove as much of the infected nail as possible by trimming, filing or dissolving it. Oral or topical antifungal medications may also be prescribed to treat the infection. Laser treatment options are also sometimes available.
It’s only for severe, chronic infections that surgical removal of the nail might be recommended. Our office can help diagnose the cause of your toenail troubles, and make the best recommendation for treatment.
Maybe you've heard of carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition in the wrist that occurs when swelling or a change in position of the tissue within the carpal tunnel squeezes and irritates the median nerve. Similar to carpal tunnel syndrome is tarsal tunnel syndrome, an ankle condition that occurs from the compression of a nerve in a confined space.
What is Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome?
The tarsal tunnel is a narrow space located on the inside of the ankle next to the ankle bones. Protected by the tarsal tunnel are many arteries, veins, tendons and nerves, one of which is the posterior tibial nerve - the main focus of tarsal tunnel syndrome.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome is caused from a compression on the posterior tibial nerve. Causes include:
- Injury to the ankle, which may produce swelling near the nerve.
- Abnormal blood vessels or cysts that occupy space within the tunnel.
- Scar tissue that press against the nerve.
- Foot deformities, such as flat feet, which increase strain on the nerve.
- Systematic diseases, such as diabetes or arthritis.
When patients visit us at our office with tarsal tunnel syndrome, they often experience one or more symptoms, usually felt on the bottom of the foot or the inside of the ankle. In some cases, the pain may extend to the heel, arch, toes and calf. Symptoms include:
- Burning or tingling sensation
We Can Help
If you experience pain, burning and tingling in your feet or toes, make an appointment with our office. Left untreated, tarsal tunnel syndrome could result in permanent nerve damage. Treatment for tarsal tunnel syndrome varies depending on the severity of your condition. Anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections, immobilization, rest and modifications in footwear are a few methods used to treat the damaged nerve and reduce the pain. When non-surgical treatments are unsuccessful, surgery may be recommended.
Plantar warts are benign growths that develop on the bottom of your feet, and are caused by direct contact with the human papilloma virus (HPV). This is the same virus that causes warts on other areas of the body. Some people are more susceptible than others to HPV, and not everyone will develop plantar warts if they come into contact with the virus. Individuals with weak immune systems or damaged skin on the feet are at a higher risk for plantar warts.
Plantar warts most often develop on the weight-bearing areas of the foot - the heel or the ball of the foot - causing sharp, burning pain. They can appear as a single wart (solitary) or a cluster of warts (mosaic). Common symptoms may include:
- Pain or discomfort when walking or standing
- Thick, scaly skin that often resembles a callus
- Hard, flat growths with well-defined boundaries
- Tiny black specks (clotted blood vessels) that often appear on the surface of the wart
Most warts disappear with home care and do not require medical treatment. You can take steps to prevent and treat plantar warts, which include:
- Changing your shoes and socks daily
- Keeping your feet clean and dry
- Avoid picking at warts as the virus may spread
- Avoid direct contact with an individual who has plantar warts
- Checking your child's feet periodically
- Refrain from walking barefoot, especially in public areas like showers, swimming pools and locker rooms
- Never ignore skin growths or changes in your skin
You should always seek care from a podiatrist when warts interfere with your daily life, aren't responding to home treatments, or if you have circulatory disorders. Contact us if your warts:
- Change color or shape
- Cause unbearable pain and discomfort
- Interfere with activities
- Multiply or reappear
Without treatment, plantar warts can grow, spread and prompt new warts to grow as fast as the old ones disappear. If you can't confidently identify a growth on your foot, visit your podiatrist to ensure a correct diagnosis. Early diagnosis and treatment can decrease the risk of the wart spreading and multiplying.
A neuroma is a thickening of nerve tissue that can develop in various parts of your body. In the foot, the most common occurring neuroma develops at the base of the third and fourth toes. This condition is referred to as Morton's neuroma.
There are typically no physical signs of Morton's neuroma, such as a lump or a knot. Instead, symptoms may include:
- A sharp, achy or burning pain in the ball of your foot
- Numbness, tingling, or cramping in the toes or forefoot
- Feeling as if you're standing on a pebble in your shoe
While the exact cause of Morton's neuroma is unknown, the growth of the neuroma seems to occur in response to injury, pressure or irritation to one of the nerves that lead to the toes. People with foot deformities such as bunions, hammertoes and flat feet are at higher risk for developing a neuroma. Women are also more likely to develop this condition, as wearing high-heels or narrow-toed shoes can increase pressure on the toes. Other potential causes are activities that involve repetitive irritation to the ball of the foot, such as running.
Morton's neuroma can make walking and performing normal activities difficult and painful. Treatment options vary with severity, and identifying the neuroma in its earliest stage of development is important to avoid more invasive treatments or surgical correction. Left untreated, neuromas tend to worsen, so it's always best to visit our office at the first sign of pain.
Early treatments aim to relieve or reduce pressure on the area around the affected toes. Depending on the severity of your neuroma, a podiatrist may recommend:
- Modifications to footwear. Wide-toed shoes relieve pressure on the neuroma.
- Shoe inserts or padding to provide support for the arch of the foot, which removes pressure from the nerve.
- Anti-inflammatory medications can help ease any pain and inflammation. Ask your doctor first.
- Icing to reduce inflammation.
- Rest to lessen repetitive pressure on the neuroma.
In the most severe cases, surgery may be recommended for patients who do not respond to conservative treatments. We can help you determine the best approach for your specific condition.