Posts for: January, 2015
From bunions to broken toes, local foot and ankle surgeon has heard it all
“Don’t cross your eyes, they’ll stay that way!”
Old wives’ tales and myths like that example are fun to laugh at. We believed them as children. “Step on a crack and you’ll break your mother’s back.” But there are other myths that are no laughing matter, especially when they involve your health.
From bunions to broken toes, foot and ankle surgeon Dr. Steven A Gordon, DPM, FACFAS, has heard it all. Dr. Gordon treats patients at offices in Manassas, Reston and Leesburg. He shares five myths about foot care and the realities behind them.
Myth: Cutting a notch (a “V”) in a toenail will relieve the pain of ingrown toenails.
Reality: When a toenail is ingrown, the nail curves downward and grows into the skin. Cutting a “V” in the toenail does not affect its growth. New nail growth will continue to curve downward. Cutting a “V” may actually cause more problems and is painful in many cases.
Myth: My foot or ankle can’t be broken if I can walk on it.
Reality: It’s entirely possible to walk on a foot or ankle with a broken bone. “It depends on your threshold for pain, as well as the severity of the injury,” says Dr. Gordon. But it’s not a smart idea. Walking with a broken bone can cause further damage.
It is crucial to stay off an injured foot until diagnosis by a foot and ankle surgeon. Until then, apply ice and elevate the foot to reduce pain.
Myth: Shoes cause bunions.
Reality: Bunions are most often caused by an inherited faulty mechanical structure of the foot. It is not the bunion itself that is inherited, but certain foot types make a person prone to developing a bunion. While wearing shoes that crowd the toes together can, over time, make bunions more painful, shoes themselves do not cause bunions.
Although some treatments can ease the pain of bunions, only surgery can correct the deformity.
Myth: A doctor can’t fix a broken toe.
Reality: Nineteen of the 26 bones in the foot are toe bones.
“What I tell patients is, there are things we can do to make a broken toe heal better and prevent problems later on, like arthritis or toe deformities,” Dr. Gordon says.
Broken toes that aren’t treated correctly can also make walking and wearing shoes difficult. A foot and ankle surgeon will x-ray the toe to learn more about the fracture. If the broken toe is out of alignment, the surgeon may have to insert a pin, screw or plate to reposition the bone.
Myth: Corns have roots.
Reality: A corn is a small build-up of skin caused by friction. Dr. Gordon says many corns result from a hammertoe deformity, where the toe knuckle rubs against the shoe. The only way to eliminate these corns is to surgically correct the hammertoe condition.
Unlike a callus, a corn has a central core of hard material. But corns do not have roots. Attempting to cut off a corn or applying medicated corn pads can lead to serious infection or even amputation. A foot and ankle surgeon can safely evaluate and treat corns and the conditions contributing to them.
To make an appointment with Dr. Gordon, contact his office at (703) 368-7166 or visit his Web site at www.FootVA.com. For additional foot care myths, visit the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons’ consumer Web site, FootHealthFacts.org
Local foot surgeon urges patients not to ignore foot pain
(Reston, Manassas, Leesburg, VA – 1/26/15) -- Unexplained foot fractures may be the first sign of osteoporosis, a bone thinning disease which affects over 28 million Americans and accounts for 1.5 million bone fractures a year.
According to Northern Virginian foot and ankle surgeon Shaun Hafner, DPM, FACFAS, osteoporosis is frequently referred to as the “silent crippler” since it often progresses without any symptoms or isn’t diagnosed until a person experiences pain from a bone fracture. Dr. Hafner, a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, explains that the porous nature of bones in people with osteoporosis makes them more susceptible to bone fractures, especially in the feet. “Because the bones are in a weakened state, normal weight-bearing actions like walking can cause the bones in the foot to break,” says Dr. Hafner. “In fact, many patients visit their foot and ankle surgeon suffering from foot pain only to find out they actually have a stress fracture, without having experienced an injury.”
While osteoporosis is most commonly seen in women over age 50, younger people and men are also affected. Early symptoms can include increased pain with walking accompanied by redness and swelling on the top of the foot. “Oftentimes patients don’t seek treatment for their symptoms for weeks or even months, thinking the pain will pass,” says Dr. Hafner. “The best advice is, don’t ignore foot pain of any type. Early intervention can make all the difference in your treatment and recovery.”
Foot and ankle surgeons are able to diagnose osteoporosis through bone densitometry tests, which measure calcium and mineral levels in the bones through low-dose radiation x-ray, or possibly through a routine x-ray. “This is why prevention and early intervention are key; women should make sure bone densitometry tests are part of their wellness examinations when indicated by their physicians,” Dr. Hafner explains.
If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, it’s important to protect your feet from stress fractures. Wear shoes that provide support and cushioning, such as athletic running shoes, to provide extra shock absorption and protection. Custom orthotics may also be recommended to protect the foot from pressure and provide shock absorption, particularly during exercise.
If you are suffering from foot pain or suspect you may have osteoporosis, call Dr. Hafner’s office at 703-437-6333 for the Reston office, 703-368-7166 for the Manassas office, and 703-777-2101 for the Leesburg office for an evaluation.