Posts for: August, 2015
After wearing flip-flops all summer, students head back to school with painful feet
(Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg, VA – 8/28/15) The sounds of back to school season include the ringing of school bells and cash registers, the slamming of locker doors, the noisy ruckus of school hallways and cafeterias, and the moans and groans of students over tests, homework, relationships, and increasingly, their aching feet.
Flip-flops are the summer footwear of choice for many students. But while these sandals are inexpensive and stylish, they don’t cushion or support the foot, leading to problems. After wearing flip-flops all summer, some students will head back to school this fall with foot pain and even injuries. Shaun Hafner, DPM, FACFAS, a foot and ankle surgeon with offices in Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg, reminds parents and students that foot pain isn’t normal and can be reduced or eliminated.
“People may not realize that even into your mid-teens, there’s new bone growing in your heel,” says Dr. Hafner. “Flip-flops don’t cushion the heel, so repetitive stress from walking can inflame that heel bone growth area and cause pain and tenderness.”
Heel pain and arch pain rank among the most common complaints among students who wear flip-flops. Other flip-flop feet problems students can take back to school include inflammation of the Achilles tendon, painful pinched nerves, sprained ankles, broken or sprained toes, cuts and scrapes, plantar warts, Athlete’s foot, and callus build-up on the heels and toes.
Foot and ankle surgeons can usually reduce or eliminate students’ foot pain with simple treatment methods including stretching exercises, ice massage, anti-inflammatory medications, and custom or over-the-counter shoe inserts.
Back to school season will always be painful for some students, but it doesn’t need to involve foot pain. Contact Dr. Hafner’s office in Reston at 703-437-6333, the Manassas Office at 703-368-7166, or the Leesburg Office at 703-777-2101 to have your student’s painful foot evaluated, and visit FootHealthFacts.org for more information on foot and ankle conditions.
With kids back in school after a summer of bare feet and sandals, parents are shopping for shoes for feet that seem to have grown longer in just a few months. To help busy parents with shoe choices, a Northern Virginia foot and ankle surgeon recommends some simple guidelines to prevent or minimize possible foot problems from inappropriate shoes, such as painful ingrown toenails, blisters, heel pain and flat feet.
“When choosing kids’ shoes, size and shock absorption are the key considerations, especially if your child has flat feet that can worsen from improper fitting or worn-out shoes,” says Dr. Gordon, DPM, FACFAS, a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS). “Also, a child’s foot can grow a size or two within six months, so it’s critical to allow room for growth in the toe box—about a finger’s width from the longest toe.”
Dr. Gordon says snug shoes put pressure on the toes, causing ingrown nails.
“The nail compresses and grows down into the skin,” says Dr. Gordon.
According to FootHealthFacts.org, the ACFAS consumer website, infection can occur when an ingrown nail breaks through the skin.
“If there’s pain, redness and fluid draining from the area, it’s probably infected,” he says. “The ingrown nail can be removed in a simple, in-office procedure. Don’t try to remove a child’s ingrown nail at home; this can cause the condition to worsen.”
Tight-fitting shoes also cause blisters, corns and calluses on the toes and blisters on the back of the heels.
“Never buy shoes that feel tight and uncomfortable in the store,” says Dr. Gordon. “Don’t assume they will stretch or break in over time.”
Conversely, he notes that shoes that are too loose can cause problems, too.
“If a shoe is too loose, the foot slide forward and puts excessive pressure on the toes.”
Dr. Gordon also recommends parents carefully inspect both new and old shoes to check for proper cushioning and arch support.
“Shoes lose their shock absorption over time, and wear and tear around the edges of the sole usually indicates it’s worn out and should be replaced," says Dr. Gordon. "If a child keeps wearing worn-out or non-supportive dress or athletic shoes, it elevates the risk for developing heel pain, Achilles tendonitis and even ankle sprains and stress fractures.”
A good tip for parents when buying new shoes: The toe box should flex easily and the shoe shouldn’t bend in the middle of the sole.
For children with flat feet, Dr. Gordon says parents should buy oxford, lace-up shoes that have enough depth for an orthotic insert, if necessary.
“Unfortunately, there isn’t much choice for kids with flat, wide feet. They need shoes with a wide toe box and maximum arch support and shock absorption,” he said. “Slip-on loafers aren’t right for them.”
For more information about childhood foot care, contact Dr. Gordon at (703) 437-6333 or visit FootHealthFacts.org.
Going barefoot? Beware!
Tips for a safer barefoot summer in Northern Virginia
Reston, Manassas and Leesburg Parents and families can prevent cuts, puncture wounds and other injuries from going barefoot by following some simple recommendations from one Northern Virginia foot and ankle surgeon.
"Shoes are the best way to protect your family's feet from injuries," says Dr. Steven Gordon, DPM, FACFAS). "But if your summer just wouldn't be the same without kicking off your shoes or sandals, you can still make it a safe season."
Dr. Gordon has offices in Reston, Manassas and Leesburg. He offers these tips for a safer barefoot summer:
--See a foot and ankle surgeon within 24 hours for a puncture wound.
Why: These injuries can embed unsterile foreign objects deep inside the foot. A puncture wound must be cleaned properly and monitored throughout the healing process. This will help to avoid complications, such as tissue and bone infections or damage to tendons and muscles in the foot. Foot and ankle surgeons are trained to properly care for these injuries.
--Make sure you've been vaccinated against tetanus. Experts recommend teens and adults get a booster shot every 10 years.
Why: Cuts and puncture wounds from sharp objects can lead to infections and illnesses such as tetanus.
--Apply sunscreen to the tops and bottoms of your feet.
Why: Feet get sunburn too. According to FootHealthFacts.org, rare but deadly skin cancers can develop on the feet.
--Inspect your feet and your children's feet on a routine basis for skin problems such as warts, calluses, ingrown toenails and suspicious moles, spots or freckles.
Why: The earlier a skin condition is detected, the easier it is for your foot and ankle surgeon to treat it.
--Wear flip-flops or sandals around swimming pools, locker rooms and beaches.
Why: To avoid cuts and abrasions from rough anti-slip surfaces and sharp objects hidden beneath sandy beaches, and to prevent contact with bacteria and viruses that can cause athlete's foot, plantar warts, and other problems.
--Use common sense.
Why: Every year, people lose toes while mowing the lawn barefoot. Others suffer serious burns from accidentally stepping on stray campfire coals or fireworks. Murky rivers, lakes and ponds can conceal sharp objects underwater. People with diabetes should never go barefoot, even indoors, because their nervous system may not "feel" an injury and their circulatory system will struggle to heal breaks in the skin.
For more information on puncture wounds, plantar warts, diabetic foot care and other topics, visit the ACFAS Web site, FootHealthFacts.org.