A bunion is an enlargement of the base joint of the toe that connects to the foot, often formed from a bony growth or a patch of swollen tissues. It is caused by the inward shifting of the bones in the big toe, toward the other toes of the foot. This shift can cause a serious amount of pain and discomfort. The area around the big toe can become inflamed, red, and painful.
Bunions are most commonly formed in people who are already genetically predisposed to them or other kinds of bone displacements. Existing bunions can be worsened by wearing improperly fitting shoes. Trying to cram your feet into high heels or running or walking in a way that causes too much stress on the feet can exacerbate bunion development. High heels not only push the big toe inward, but shift one's body weight and center of gravity towards the edge of the feet and toes, expediting bone displacement.
A podiatrist knowledgeable in foot structure and biomechanics will be able to quickly diagnose bunions. Bunions must be distinguished from gout or arthritic conditions, so blood tests may be necessary. The podiatrist may order a radiological exam to provide an image of the bone structure. If the x-ray demonstrates an enlargement of the joint near the base of the toe and a shifting toward the smaller toes, this is indicative of a bunion.
Wearing wider shoes can reduce pressure on the bunion and minimize pain, and high heeled shoes should be eliminated for a period of time. This may be enough to eliminate the pain associated with bunions; however, if pain persists, anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed. Severe pain may require an injection of steroids near the bunion. Orthotics for shoes may be prescribed which, by altering the pressure on the foot, can be helpful in reducing pain. These do not correct the problem; but by eliminating the pain, they can provide relief.
For cases that do not respond to these methods of treatment, surgery can be done to reposition the toe. A surgeon may do this by taking out a section of bone or by rearranging the ligaments and tendons in the toe to help keep it properly aligned. It may be necessary even after surgery to wear more comfortable shoes that avoid placing pressure on the toe, as the big toe may move back to its former orientation toward the smaller toes.
An ingrown toenail is a toenail that grows sideways into the nail bed, causing pain and swelling. Ingrown toenails can worsen and cause drainage, turning into a serious infection.
Several factors affect whether a person is at risk from an ingrown toenail. The many causes include being overweight, diabetes, participating in sports, having a fungal infection of the toe, and cutting your nails too short. Ingrown toenails also have a genetic predisposition, causing some people to be more prone to receive the condition than others. Other causes include improperly fitting shoes and shoes that keep the feet damp.
Ingrown toenails can be preventable with certain measures. For starters, allowing your toe nails to grow slightly longer in length will help prevent them from becoming ingrown. If you have already developed an ingrown toenail, soak the affected toe in warm water. This will alleviate the pain and help prevent an infection from forming. Antibiotic soap or Epsom salts may be added to further help the relieving process and avoid infection. Placing cotton beneath the affected area is also suggested, as this may help the toenail grow upwards and not into the nail bed. Swelling and redness can be reduced by resting with your feet elevated.
A podiatrist should be seen if the pain becomes so serious that it prevents you from doing your everyday activities. If a red streak running up your leg appears or if you suspect your infection has spread, contact a podiatrist immediately. Fast treatments can be undertaken to lessen your pain and have you walking comfortably.
An ingrown toenail can be easily treated with a Band-Aid. Simply wrap the affected toe with a Band-Aid to prevent infection and keep the nail from growing out at a painful angle.
In more serious cases, your podiatrist may decide to make a small incision to remove a portion of your toenail. To prevent the nail from growing back, medication will be placed directly into the nail bed. This procedure would be performed under local anesthesia and is a faster method to alleviate discomfort from an ingrown toenail. Post-procedure directions will have you stay off the affected foot for a day. Afterwards, normal activities can be resumed.
While not a serious issue, toenail fungus, or onychomycosis, can be an embarrassing and uncomfortable condition to experience. Toenail fungus is often caused from public areas that harbor fungi and improper cleaning/drying of the foot. Once infected, the fungus grows deeper into the nail and can be very hard to get rid of.
There are different types of fungus that cause toenail fungus. Dermatophytes, yeasts, and molds are the most frequent forms of fungus to infect the toenail. Dermatophytes are the most common among the three. Symptoms associated with fungal nails include the discoloration of the toenail, brittleness, and in some circumstances, a smell. Pain is rarely a symptom caused by toenail fungus.
Diagnosis of fungal nails is generally a rather quick process. However podiatrists will make sure that the cause is not another condition such as lichen planus, psoriasis, onychogryphosis, or nail damage. Podiatrists will make use of fungal cultures and microscopy to verify that it is fungus.
While over-the-counter ointments are readily available, most are ineffective. This is due to the fact that the nail is very protective and that the fungus slips in between the nail plate and bed. Podiatrists can offer oral medication which currently provides the best results.
Ultimately, prevention is the best line of defense against toenail fungus. Avoid unsanitary public showers. If you do use a public shower, use shower shoes to provide your foot with protection. Once you are finished showering, make sure to thoroughly dry your feet. Fungi thrive in warm, dark, and moist places like sweaty, warm feet that are left dark in shoes all day.
Foot Therapy for Sports Injuries
Athletes are used to engaging in high-intensity workouts. Consequently, athletes are at an increased risk for enduring foot or ankle injuries. The most common way to treat these types of injuries is the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). However, braces and casts may be required in some cases. If you are suffering from any of these injuries, it is best that you seek help from your podiatrist right away.
Achilles tendinitis is a type of overuse injury of the Achilles tendon, which is the tendon connecting the calf muscles to the heel. This type of injury commonly occurs in runners who increase the intensity of their workouts. Symptoms for this condition start off as a mild ache in the back leg or above the heel. Some people experience tenderness around the area in the morning, however this feeling tends to improve over time. If you suspect you have Achilles tendinitis, you doctor may order an x-ray to show whether your Achilles tendon has calcified. Common treatment options for this condition include rest, ice, exercise, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication.
Plantar Fasciitis is a condition that is commonly found in women. It is a painful condition that occurs when the bands of tissue that connect the heel to the toes become inflamed. Symptoms for plantar fasciitis are heel pain that worsens in the morning and improves throughout the day with activity. Your podiatrist will diagnose plantar fasciitis by checking for tender areas on your foot. In rare cases, an x-ray may be required for a more thorough examination. There are various treatment options that may be used to help someone with this ailment. Depending on the specific case, some of these options include: physical therapy, shockwave therapy, and in rare cases, surgery.
Stress fractures are tiny cracks in the bone that occur due to repetitive force. These fractures are typically the result of overuse injuries such as repeatedly running and jumping. Symptoms of a stress fracture include pain when exercising, tenderness, and mild swelling. To diagnose a stress fracture, your doctor will likely ask you a series of questions about your overall health and the activities you are involved in. Next, an x-ray will likely be performed to check for the fracture. In some cases, fractures don’t appear on x-rays until weeks afterward. In these cases, an MRI or a bone scan may be required. Typical stress fractures may be treated by resting the area and taking a break from highly intense activities.
Ankle sprains occur when the ligaments that support the ankle are stretched far beyond their limits. These injuries occur when you roll, twist, or turn your ankle in an awkward way. Ligaments are essential in helping us move around because they are responsible for stabilizing the joints. Usually, sprained ankles occur due to ligaments on the outer part of the ankle becoming stretched. Symptoms of ankle sprains are swelling, bruising, instability of the ankle, and restricted range of motion. Normally, when people sprain their ankle, they will hear a popping sound during the injury. Depending on the severity, ankle sprains are graded based on how much damage has occurred to the ligaments. Grade 1 is mild, grade 2 is moderate, and grade 3 is severe.
It is no secret that high heels are uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. Although beauty is pain, you should not sacrifice the health of your feet for a stylish heel. Wearing high heels can potentially cause many different foot conditions that may be avoided by wearing proper footwear.
The structure of high heels forces weight of your body to get shifted forward toward the ball of the foot. The higher the heel you wear, the more weight and pressure get shifted forward. The pressure that your toes may experience from wearing heels may lead to hammer toes, bunions, and ingrown toenails. Extra weight and pressure resulting from wearing heels may cause stress fractures. Furthermore, heels may cause pinched nerves which may result in Morton’s neuroma.
High heels are even more dangerous for people who are clumsy. Falling or tripping while wearing heels can cause an ankle sprain or twist.
What many people don’t know is that heels can also cause back and knee problems. In order for your body to stay balanced on heels, your spine has to sway unnaturally, which adds stress to your spine muscles. This may cause you to experience a sore lower back.
If you decide to wear high heels regardless of the risks associated with them, there are ways you can minimize their harmful effects. One way to reduce injury is to massage and stretch your legs at the end of the day. Stretching can prevent the Achilles tendons and calf muscles from becoming too tight. If you are simply looking for more height, wedges and platforms provide a better surface area to distribute the body weight across compared to thinner heels.
If you experience pain from wearing high heels, it is important to see a podiatrist before any of your symptoms become worse.