Often, the problems in your feet and ankles go away with time, rest, ice, anti-inflammatories and changing your shoes. However, sometimes these problems just won’t go away, and that's when you should visit your podiatrist for further diagnosis and treatment.
When Should I See a Podiatrist?
If you are having a specific foot problem, your best bet is to visit your podiatrist for the best care available. Several serious conditions, such as diabetes and peripheral arterial disease, can show up in your feet first, making it more important than ever to get them checked out.
A Wound or Sore That Does Not Heal
If you have an open sore on your foot or ankle, you should visit your podiatrist immediately! This is especially important if you have diabetes, as it takes a diabetic longer to heal even when being treated.
Some changes to your feet are normal as you age, but having pain isn’t one of them. As you begin putting more miles on your feet, you may notice that your feet change shape, lose cushioning, experience skin changes, develop arthritis and experience an array of other complications. It's always best to get checked by your podiatrist rather than unknowingly let a serious foot issue worsen, especially as you age.
Pain Increasing with Activity or Lasting more than 24 Hours
If you are experiencing pain that gets worse with activity, this may be a sign of a stress fracture. You should not try to work through the pain. Instead, it is vital that you visit your podiatrist. If you treat a stress fracture early, you can potentially avoid more serious problems, such as a stress fracture that will not heal, or one that turns into a fully broken bone.
Don’t ignore your foot or ankle pain! Visit your podiatrist for a diagnosis, treatment and to help prevent your symptoms from worsening.
Signs and Treatment for Sprained Ankles
Do you have a sprained ankle? Ankle sprains are among the most common injuries. Ankle sprains sprain occur when the ligaments in the ankle are stretched or torn. Ankle sprains can be very painful and incapacitating. If you have an ankle sprain, it's a good idea to see your podiatrist. Read on to to learn about the signs and treatment for sprained ankles.
Signs You Have a Sprained Ankle
1. Pain: An ankle sprain can be painful and can make it hard to carry out your day-to-day activities. You may also feel discomfort when you place weight on the affected area. The pain may worsen when the area is pressed and during standing or walking.
2. Redness: A sprained ankle can cause warmth and redness around the affected area. If your ankle is warm, red, and swollen, it is inflamed. Warmth and redness is caused by increased blood flow to the area.
3. Swelling: When an ankle is injured with a sprain, inflammation occurs. Swelling is the body’s protective response to an injury. Inflammation occurs because of increased fluid in the tissue. This is a normal reaction of the body and is the start of the healing process. However, sometimes the body produces more swelling that necessary.
4. Bruising: A sprained ankle causes bruising around the affected joint. A contusion, commonly known as a bruise, is made up of blood beneath the skin. A bruise results in a discoloration of the skin. Bruising is a result of injury to the blood vessels in the skin.
5. Stiffness: A sprained ankle causes limited range of motion and stiffness. Inflammation and pain often limit movement after the injury. Your podiatrist may advise against moving the ankle to allow your ankle to heal. Your podiatrist may also design an exercise program to reduce stiffness after the injury.
Treating a Sprained Ankle
1. Rest your ankle: All ankle sprains require a period of rest. Resting your ankle will allow the healing process to begin. Stay off your feet to allow your ankle to heal. Gently exercise your ankle on a regular basis to reduce stiffness. Avoid strenuous activites, such as running and aerobics, until you can walk without it causing any pain.
2. Elevate your ankle: Keep your ankle raised above the level of your chest for several days after injury. Use pillows to keep your foot elevated. Keep your foot elevated for a few hours per day until your ankle stops swelling. Elevation is important after an injury as it helps to reduce the amount of blood flow to the injured area. This helps to reduce the inflammation, bruising, and pain.
3. Ice your ankle: Ice treatment can help decrease pain, swelling, bruising, and muscle spasms. To make an ice pack, fill a freezer bag with ice. Put an ice pack on your injured ankle for 10 minutes every 2 hours. Wrap an elastic medical bandage around the ice pack to hold it in place. You should not use ice for more than 20 minutes at a time. If you have circulation issues or diabetes, talk to your doctor before applying ice.
4. Compress your ankle: Apply a compression bandage from the toes to above the ankle. Wrapping your ankle will help to avoid bruising and swelling. Wrap the bandage around your ankle and foot, and secure it with medical tape. Make sure the bandage doesn't restrict blood flow to your toes or make the pain worse. Do combine compression with elevationa and rest whenever possible.
5. Take a pain reliever: If you have severe pain, a narcotic pain reliever can make you feel better. An OTC pain reliever may also help reduce the pain and swelling. Most medical professionals recommend anti-inflammatory medicines such as naproxen, ibuprofen, or ketoprofen. You can also take acetaminophen for pain, although this medicine does not reduce inflammation. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
6. See a doctor: A podiatrist can diagnose and treat an ankle sprain. Your doctor may order x-rays to determine if you have a broken bone in your ankle. You may receive an ankle brace to keep your ankle from moving and allow ligaments to heal. Your doctor will also give you medications to reduce swelling and pain. Once you can bear weight without increased pain, your doctor will add strengthening exercises to your treatment plan.
Whether your goal is getting back to work, hobbies, sports, the gym, or just enjoying life, a podiatrist can help. If you have an ankle sprain, search for a podiatrist in your area and schedule an appointment. A podiatrist can help you get back on track in no time!
A hammertoe is a common foot deformity that affects the middle joint of the smaller toes. As a result, this causes the toes to bend downward. Since this bend causes the joint to stick out this can put more pressure on the affected joints when wearing shoes, which can also make the deformity worse over time. As with most foot deformities a hammertoe will start out minor and continue to progress over time if left untreated.
During the earlier stages you may not notice much pain and discomfort. In fact the only way you may be able to tell that you have a hammertoe is by examining the foot and noticing that the small toes bend downward like a claw. Of course, at this stage the deformed joint is still flexible enough to be straightened out.
However, if the deformity progresses this can cause the joint to become rigid, which won’t respond effectively to simple conservative treatments. As you might imagine, the sooner you see a podiatrist to treat your hammertoe the better. Early intervention is key, as a hammertoe will not get better without the proper care.
Hammertoes are often the result of an imbalance in the muscle or tendon of the foot. Over time, this leads to structural changes in the foot. Genetics may also play a role in whether your feet are at risk for this deformity. A hammertoe can also be made worse by wearing shoes that are too tight and put too much pressure on the toes.
Along with the structural changes that occur with hammertoes it’s also common to experience redness, inflammation or the development of a corn or callus on the toe. If you are noticing symptoms of a hammertoe see your podiatrist for an evaluation. A simple physical exam is usually all that’s needed to diagnose a hammertoe; however, sometimes an x-ray will be performed in order to determine the extent of the deformity.
If you are dealing with a flexible hammertoe, more often than not simple nonsurgical treatment options are all that’s needed. Following simple treatment options and care can prevent the hammertoes from becoming rigid or painful. Some nonsurgical treatment options include:
- Wearing the appropriate footwear. This means wearing shoes that aren’t pointy or have high heels, which can put more pressure on the toes.
- Placing custom orthotics into your shoes, which can ease discomfort and prevent pain resulting in a muscular imbalance.
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, which can reduce both pain and inflammation.
- Splinting the toe or toes to keep them straight, which can also reduce stiffness, inflammation and pain.
- Applying protective non-medicated padding over the top of the toe to prevent a corn or callus from developing.
If your hammertoe is painful or rigid then you may need to discuss whether surgery is the best option for alleviating your symptom and correcting the deformity. If you are dealing with a hammertoe turn to a foot specialist for help.
The inside line of your foot should be as straight as possible including the shape of your big toe. When you have a bunion, that shape is thrown into disarray—the base of the big toe sticks out while the top of the toe points inward. It’s uncomfortable and unsightly. The smartest way to deal with bunions is to get professional treatment and advice from a podiatrist at Regional Foot and Ankle Specialists in Pennsauken and Turnersville, NJ.
Do You Have Bunions?
If you have bunions, it will be apparent, whether from the discomfort you feel when you’re wearing certain shoes, or by looking at your feet in comparison to others. The base of the toe shifts out of alignment until it looks like you have a growth on the inside of your foot. Check the rest of your toes as well—ideally, they should have ample space to move around and separate. If they are crunched together and overlapping due to pressure from the big toe, that’s a common sign of bunions.
Bunion Help from a Podiatrist
Even severe cases of bunions may be treatable using conservative, non-surgical methods. These are some of the therapies your Pennsauken and Turnersville, NJ podiatrist may recommend:
- The insertion of protective padding inside of shoes that will prevent friction and inflammation.
- Better footwear, designed to support and align the feet when you’re walking.
- Orthotic devices made by your foot doctor that train the feet into a more comfortable and attractive position.
- Foot splinting and wrapping.
No More Bunions
If you have a good understanding of why your bunions formed in the first place, you’ll have a better chance of avoiding a recurrence of this common foot condition. Here are a few tips for keeping your feet in good form:
- Toss the shoes you have been wearing most often, as they may be responsible for the bunions (tight shoes and high heels are common culprits).
- Soak and stretch your feet nightly, per instructions given by your Pennsauken or Turnersville, NJ podiatrist.
- Pay attention to the way you walk and make adjustments as needed. Overpronation, which is the inclination to roll your feet inward when you take a step, could cause stress on the big toe joint.
Normal Feet Are Possible
Don’t feel as if you have to spend a lifetime struggling to get your feet to fit normal shoes because of your bunions. Call (856) 488-5290 for our Pennsauken, NJ, office or (856) 875-8855 for our Turnersville, NJ, office today to talk about solutions with a podiatrist at Regional Foot and Ankle Specialists.
Diabetic feet need special care because of decreased circulation, neuropathy, joint deterioration, and more. While your primary care physician may guide you on blood sugar control, medications, a healthy diet, and active lifestyle, your podiatrist assesses and treats how your feet and ankles function everyday and for the long term. Enlist their help in the health maintenance of your diabetic feet.
Keeping ahead of neuropathy and avoiding amputation
Those are two key goals of diabetic foot care. Your podiatrist will want to see you regularly to assess the color, temperature, sensation, function, and shape of your feet and ankles, noting any developing problems. Early detection of circulation issues, nerve degeneration (neuropathy), and deformities, such as hammertoes, bunions, and Charcot Foot, are key.
Your podiatric foot examination will include an eye-on inspection of your skin (color, temperature, texture, and integrity). Your foot doctor also may perform gait analysis to watch for changes in how you walk. Sometimes a podiatrist orders X-ray imaging or an MRI to view the internal structure of the foot and/or ankle.
Remember, that foot ulcers are the primary threat to the overall health and well-being of the diabetic, says the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Untreated, they may lead to complications so severe amputation is the only option.
What can you do to treat your diabetic feet?
- Be proactive. Inspect your feet daily, looking redness or skin breakdown.
- Wash and dry your feet daily.
- Trim your toenails carefully using a clean clippers. Trim straight across and not too short to avoid ingrown toenails.
- Wear shoes at all times--even indoors--to avoid injury.
- Wear clean, well-fitting, moisture-wicking socks.
- Keep your weight and blood sugars within normal range.
- Get in-office treatment of calluses and corns, says the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.
- Avoid all forms of tobacco.
- Report any changes to your foot doctor as soon as possible.
- See your podiatrist every six months or as he or she directs.
Healthy feet and a healthy you
Podiatric health is so important, but especially to the diabetic. So stay in touch with your foot doctor, and be routinized in your foot care for better long-term health.
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