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Posts for: July, 2015

Healthy Feet Make the Best Dancing Feet

Don’t ignore foot pain on the dance floor



(Reston, Manassas, Leesburg, VA 7/31/15) -- Being ‘light on your feet’ when dancing is not entirely true; dancing the night away can take a toll on feet and ankles. Both professional and amateur dancers can suffer foot injuries that can stop the show, as witnessed this season on the popular reality-television show, Dancing with the Stars. 

According to Northern Virginia foot and ankle surgeon Steven Gordon, DPM, FACFAS,  the most common types of dance-related foot and ankle problems are overuse injuries, which occur due to the repetitive movements in dance. “Over 50 percent of dance injuries occur in the foot and ankle. The severity of the damage is determined by a patient’s age, strength and flexibility and the type of shoes worn when dancing,” said Dr. Gordon.

Other common types of injuries related to dancing can include:

  • stress fractures (hairline breaks in the bone) from repeated jumping and landing
  • foot neuromas (thickening/irritation of the nerves in the ball of the foot) resulting from repetitive pivoting
  • shin splints (pain and swelling in the front of the lower legs) which can be aggravated by recurring activities
  • tendonitis (inflammation of the tendons in the foot) from over exertion
  • corns, calluses or blisters—all painful skin irritations resulting from repeated rubbing of the skin on the feet.

With dancing being repetitively hard on the lower extremities, how can dancers of any level protect their feet and ankles? “The best defense to injury is prevention. Dancers should wear appropriate shoes to properly support their feet and ankles as well as perform dance moves with their individual skill levels in mind,” Dr. Gordon said. When an injury does occur, prompt medical attention by a foot and ankle surgeon can make all the difference in a proper rehabilitation. “Most dance injuries can be treated with conservative care as long as they are addressed early and not ignored,” Dr. Gordon adds.  “Many people dispel foot pain if they can walk on the foot, but it is important to remember it is possible to walk on a seriously injured foot. Plus, common injuries, if left untreated, may require surgical intervention to ensure proper healing.”

If you are suffering from foot or ankle pain, call Dr. Gordon’s office in Reston at 703-437-6333, Manassas Office at 703-368-7166, and Leesburg Office at 703-777-2101 for an assessment.   

Simple at-home checks help spot foot problems

Back to school season is getting underway, and one Northern Virginia foot and ankle surgeon has some advice for area parents.

Take five minutes to inspect your children's feet for problems that could sideline your son or daughter from sports or other activities.

Steven Gordon, DPM, FACFAS, is a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons with offices in Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg. He says parents should look for these warning signs:

Do the bottoms of the child’s shoes show uneven wear patterns?

Does the child walk irregularly? Is one leg longer than the other or do feet turn in or out excessively?

Do preschoolers walk on their toes?

Does the child often trip or stumble?

Does the child complain of tired legs, night pains and cramping?

"Following this checklist can uncover common problems like ingrown toenails to more serious problems like flat feet," says Dr. Gordon "If your child's shoe is worn on the big toe side of their foot, it could be a sign of poor arch support or flat feet."

Dr. Gordon says parents can spot several potential foot problems by observing how their kids walk.

"If you find out one of your child's legs is longer than the other, heel lifts may be required to restore proper balance," he  says.

Early intervention can prevent scoliosis, a curvature of spine, later in life.

Sometimes younger children toe-walk because of tightness in their Achilles tendon. Dr. Gordon says that can happen when toddlers spend too much time in walkers.

"A foot and ankle surgeon can recommend stretching exercises that can be fun for small children and help prevent lower back pain as they get older," he says.

For older children beginning college, heel pain and shin splints can plague freshmen not used to walking long distances across campus to attend classes.

"We see students every autumn complaining about pain from walking so much every day," says Dr. Gordon. "For most students, daily stretching and proper walking shoes can solve the problem. If there are foot deformities like hammertoes, surgery may be advised to make walking more comfortable."

Dr. Gordon says "growing pains" are a myth.

"If your kids complain about tired legs, heel pain or leg or foot cramps at night, consider that a warning sign and see a doctor," he says. "Leg and foot pain can indicate flat feet or other disorders that are easier to treat the earlier they're diagnosed."

Dr. Gordon says children with flat feet are at risk for arthritis later in life if the problem is left untreated.

Contact Dr. Gordon at (703) 437-6333 for more information on children's foot problems, or visit the ACFAS consumer Web site,

Foot pain? You may have diabetes

(Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg, VA – 7/16/15) Do you ever feel burning, tingling or numbness in your feet and toes? A Northern Virginia foot and ankle surgeon warns against ignoring those symptoms. They could be a warning sign of diabetes.

Shaun Hafner, DPM, FACFAS, says those symptoms may be caused by a condition called diabetic peripheral neuropathy, or nerve damage. Neuropathy in the feet can lead to permanent numbness, deformities such as bunions and hammertoes, and dry skin that cracks open and won't heal.

"Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is not only painful but dangerous," says Hafner, a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons with offices in Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg. "It's a leading contributor to foot ulcers in people with diabetes."

Burning, tingling and numbness in toes can also be symptoms of thyroid problems, nutritional deficiencies, back problems and pinched nerves in the ankles. In the United States, diabetes is the leading cause of peripheral neuropathy and can lead to further foot complications.

Out of the 23 million Americans with diabetes, one in four has not been diagnosed. Some people learn they have diabetes only after seeing a doctor for burning, tingling and numbness in their toes and feet. Many people already diagnosed with diabetes are not familiar with neuropathy's symptoms. According to, even diabetic patients who have excellent blood sugar control can develop diabetic neuropathy.

Medications can treat pain caused by neuropathy. However, nerve damage cannot be reversed.

"When you have diabetes, especially diabetic neuropathy, a minor cut on your foot can turn into a catastrophe," says Dr. Hafner. "The statistics on diabetic ulcers are sobering."

Twenty percent of diabetes patients who develop ulcers will require an amputation. Patients who are African American, Hispanic, or Native American are twice as likely as whites to need a diabetes-related amputation. Half of all people with diabetes who have a toe or foot amputation die within three years. The annual cost for diabetic ulcer care in the U.S. is estimated at $5 billion.

For more information on foot problems such as diabetic peripheral neuropathy, contact Dr. Shaun Hafner at the Reston office at (703)437-6333, the Manassas office at (703)368-7166, or the Leesburg office at (703)437-6333 or visit

Women: Still think high heels are worth it?

(Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg, VA – 7/10/15) It’s not what fashion-conscious women want to hear—another warning about high heels.

But according to a Northern Virginia foot and ankle surgeon, pump-style shoes often cause significant pain by irritating a common bony deformity on the back of the heel called ‘pump bump.’ In many cases, it can lead to bursitis or Achilles tendonitis if left untreated.

“Pump bump is common in young women who wear high heels almost every day,” says Steven Gordon, DPM, FACFAS with offices in Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg. He is a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS).

“The rigid back of a pump-style shoe can create pressure that aggravates the heel bone when walking,” says Gordon.

According to the ACFAS Consumer Web site,, the bump or bony protrusion is a hereditary deformity that can cause Achilles tendonitis or bursitis due to constant irritation from pump-style shoes. Those with high arches or tight Achilles tendons are especially vulnerable to developing pump bump if they work in high heels.

The medical term for the disorder is Haglund’s deformity. In addition to the noticeable bump, symptoms include pain where the Achilles tendon attaches to the heel, swelling in the back of the heel and redness in the area.

In most women, doctors can prescribe medications to reduce the pain and inflammation. This does not, however, get rid of the bony protrusion. Dr. Gordon says icing the back of the heel reduces swelling, and stretching exercises can relieve tension in the Achilles. Long-term, it’s best to avoid wearing high heels, if possible.

“When the dress code requires high heels, I tell my female patients to try heel lifts to decrease pressure on the heel," says Dr. Steven Gordon. "Or, I recommend they wear appropriate dress shoes that have soft backs or are backless.”

Women with foot pain can contact Dr. Gordon's Reston office at (703)437-6333, Manassas Office at (703)368-7166, and Leesburg Office at (703)777-2101. For more information on "pump bump" and other foot and ankle conditions, visit

Pro Athletes Not the Only Ones at Risk for Achilles Tendon Problems

(Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg, VA – 7/2/15) You don’t have to be an accomplished athlete to suffer Achilles tendon injuries. They can happen from household tasks like climbing a ladder.

A Northern Virginia foot and ankle surgeon says Achilles tendon weakness is common in adults. But seeking treatment when symptoms occur can prevent more serious injury.

“Achilles tendonitis is common for anyone whose work routine puts constant stress on the feet and ankles,” says Shaun Hafner, DPM, FACFAS, a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) with offices in Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg. “Achilles tendon injuries happen most often to less conditioned, ‘weekend warrior’ athletes who overdo it. But I’ve also had patients who have ruptured the tendon simply by climbing a ladder quickly.”

The Achilles tendon is the longest and strongest tendon in the body. It is subjected to considerable wear and tear. “When the tendon becomes inflamed from overuse, or sudden stress, tendonitis can weaken it over time and cause microscopic tears.

Dr. Hafner says people risk further deterioration and possible rupture when they don't seek medical care for Achilles tendon injuries. The main symptoms of Achilles tendonitis are pain, stiffness and tenderness. Pain occurs in the morning, improves with motion, but gets worse with increasing stress and activity.

According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons’ consumer Web site,, treatments can include:

Casting to immobilize the Achilles tendon and promote healing

Ice to reduce swelling

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication to reduce pain and inflammation

Physical therapy to strengthen the tendon

Surgery, if other approaches fail to restore the tendon to its normal condition

(LAST NAME) says the major causes of Achilles tendon injuries involve jumping and running.

“In sports like basketball and tennis, muscles and tendons in the back of the leg are prone to injury from an imbalance that occurs from a lot of forward motion," he says. "As a result, the frontal imbalance can weaken the tendon unless stretching exercises are performed regularly.”

Dr.Hafner says the best way to prevent Achilles tendon injuries is to warm up gradually by walking and stretching. Avoid strenuous sprinting or hill running if you are not in shape for it.

If you have symptoms of Achilles tendonitis, contact Dr. Shaun Hafner's office in Reston at 703-437-6333, the Manassas Office at 703-368-7166, or the Leesburg Office at 703-777-2101. For more on Achilles tendon problems, visit