Posts for: September, 2015
As brightly colored leaves dazzle the fall landscape, hikers and hunters nationwide will migrate to mountains, woods and fields, but many, unfortunately, are ill prepared for the beating their feet will take, warns a local foot and ankle surgeon.
“Hikers, hunters and others who love the outdoors often don’t realize how strenuous it can be to withstand constant, vigorous walking on uneven terrain,” said Dr. Steven Gordon, a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) located in Reston, Virginia. "Lax physical conditioning and inappropriate footwear bring scores of outdoor enthusiasts into our office each fall for treatment of foot and ankle problems such as chronic heel pain, ankle sprains, Achilles tendonitis, fungal infections and severe blisters."
“Walking up and down steep hillsides and tramping through wet, slippery fields and wooded areas puts stress on the muscles and tendons in the feet and ankles, especially if you haven’t conditioned properly before hitting the trail,” said Dr. Gordon. “Also, many don’t realize that cross-training athletic shoes aren’t the best choice for extended hiking and hunting. Had some of my patients worn sturdy, well-constructed hiking boots, they wouldn’t have suffered sprained ankles or strained Achilles tendons.”
Dr. Gordon advises hikers and hunters to make the investment in top-quality hiking boots. He said strong, well-insulated and moisture-proof boots with steel or graphite shanks offer excellent ankle and foot support that helps lessen stress and muscle fatigue to reduce injury risk. “The supportive shank decreases strain on the arch by allowing the boot to distribute impact as the foot moves forward. So if a boot bends in the middle, don’t buy it.”
In wet and cold weather, wearing the right socks can help prevent blisters, fungal infections and frostbite. Dr. Gordon recommends synthetic socks as the first layer to keep the feet dry and reduce blister-causing friction. For the second layer, wool socks add warmth, absorb moisture away from the skin, and help make the hiking boot more comfortable. “Wool lets moisture evaporate more readily than cotton, so fewer blisters develop,” He added.
What happens if your feet or ankles hurt during a hike or hunt? Dr. Gordon said pain usually occurs from overuse, even from just walking. “If you’re not accustomed to walking on sloped or uneven ground, your legs and feet will get tired and cause muscles and tendons to ache,” he explained. “To avoid a serious injury, such as a severe ankle sprain or an Achilles tendon rupture, rest for a while if you start hurting.”
According to the ACFAS consumer website, FootHealthFacts.org, pain is a warning sign that something is wrong. “Serious injury risk escalates significantly if you continue hiking in pain.” He likened hiking to skiing, in that beginners should take on less difficult trails until they become better conditioned and more confident.
Evaluation by a foot and ankle surgeon is recommended if there is persistent pain following a hiking or hunting outing. “I’m most concerned about ankle instability and strained Achilles tendons. Inattention to these problems at their early stages may lead to a serious injury that will keep you off the trails for a long time,” he said.
Hikers and hunters seeking further information about ankle sprains, Achilles tendon injuries and other foot and ankle problems may contact Dr. Gordon at (703) 437-6333
Fighting the five most common foot woes
From eating better foods to getting an adequate amount of sleep and exercise, we live in a very health-conscious society. So why is it that many Americans routinely overlook one of the cornerstones of good health? While nearly 70 percent of Americans say they want to be healthier five years from now, just 51 percent recognize that foot health can be a key to achieving that goal, according to a survey from the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA).
“Nearly eight in 10 adults have experienced some type of foot ailment in their lives. Yet despite the pain, close to three in 10 do nothing about it, simply choosing to live with their pain,” says Steven Gordon, DPM, a podiatrist at Reston, Manassas, and Leebsurg Foot and Ankle Centers and APMA member. “Meanwhile, more than half of those surveyed said they had endured foot pain at some point in their lives but have not sought treatment from a podiatrist.”
So what are the five most common types of foot problems, and what causes them? Here are some tips from today's podiatrists:
- Nail problems are one of the most prevalent foot woes in both men and women. These problems can range from ingrown toenails to fungal infections. “Ingrown toenails—a condition in which the corners of sides of a nail dig painfully into the soft tissue of the nail grooves—is the most common form of nail problem,” Dr. Gordon says. To avoid ingrown toenails, trim nails straight across and don’t dig into the corners. If a toenail becomes infected, see a podiatrist immediately for treatment. Those with diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, and other circulatory disorders should seek a podiatrist’s care on a regular basis to help prevent complications.
- Sweaty feet and foot odor are two foot conditions that are often experienced together. While stinky feet are definitely embarrassing, feet that sweat excessively can lead to other foot problems, even creating an environment conducive to the development of athlete’s foot. Closed shoes make feet sweat, but in the winter you can’t avoid wearing them. Instead, practice good foot hygiene. Wash feet daily with soap and water, keep shoes and socks dry, and choose socks that wick away moisture. Change shoes and socks regularly and consider rubbing cornstarch or applying antiperspirant directly onto the soles of your feet.
- Pain in the ball of the feet—Nearly one-third of adults have reported pain in the balls of their feet. Pain in this location can be caused by over-exertion, injury, or ill-fitting shoes. To avoid pain, always wear well-fitting, supportive, activity-appropriate shoes when walking, running, or engaging in other physical activity. If necessary, replace the insoles that came in your shoes with ones that provide additional cushioning.
- Heel pain—This type of pain can have many sources, including weight gain, excessive foot flattening, muscle imbalance, injury, or even improper footwear. To kick heel pain to the curb, always be sure to warm up and stretch properly before and after exercise. If wearing high heels, opt for heels that are no more than two to three inches in height. For persistent pain, treatment can range from prescribed orthotic devices and medications to cortisone injections, physical therapy, and rarely, surgery.
- Bunions—A bunion is an enlargement of the joint at the base of the big toe. Treatments range from self-remedies such as using a bunion pad around the bony prominence, to ice packs to reduce the swelling, and to avoiding shoes that could irritate the bunion and even make the problem worse. For persistent pain, see a podiatrist for a full range of treatment options.
“While foot problems are common, that doesn’t mean people should be resigned to living with pain,” Dr. Gordon says. “Consulting today's podiatrist can help people feel better sooner, and get back to living healthier lives.”
Steven Gordon, DPM, is a podiatrist at Reston Foot and Ankle Center in Reston, VA, at Manassas Foot and Ankle Center in Manassas, VA, and at Leesburg Foot and Ankle Center in Leesburg, VA. Call 703-437-6333 or visit www.FootVA.com to make an appointment. Visit www.apma.org to learn more about foot health and care.
Find out how this revolutionary new treatment could improve long-term and serious injuries without surgery.
Are you an athlete who is dealing with tendon pain or other injuries and not finding the relief you need? Have medications, physical therapy and other conservative measure not done the trick? Concerned that the next step is surgery? Well now you have even more options to handle your injuries when you turn to your Reston, VA podiatrist at Reston Foot and Ankle Center for platelet-rich plasma (PRP) Therapy.
What is PRP therapy?
While blood is mostly made up of a liquid known as plasma, there are also red and white blood cells and platelets, which make up the more solid aspects of this bodily fluid. Platelets are mainly known for their role in clotting, but they also contain hundreds of growth factors, a type of protein that is helpful for the healing process. PRP is plasma that contains more platelets than is normally found in blood (about 5 to 10 times more).
To create PRP, your Reston Foot and Ankle Center podiatrist will first have your blood drawn. The platelets are then separated from other blood cells, and through centrifugation the concentration of platelets is increased. This platelet-rich concentration is then placed back into the original blood sample.
What conditions can PRP therapy treat?
Before we can decide whether PRP therapy is right for your condition, we will want to examine the area you want to treat, as well as your overall health and whether your injury is acute or chronic. From there we can determine whether this is the right treatment for your needs. Here are some of the common conditions we can treat with PRP therapy:
- Chronic tendon injuries
- Muscle and ligament injuries (acute)
- Post-surgery (to speed up the healing process)
PRP is injected directly into the injured area to help facilitate faster and more efficient healing. As we outlined above, PRP therapy can either be used to treat conditions like Achilles tendonitis or ligament injuries, or it can be used after surgery to help facilitate faster healing.
Interested in finding out if PRP therapy could treat your condition? Then it’s time to call your Reston podiatrist at Reston Foot and Ankle Center for an appointment. Let’s get you moving around pain-free again!
For parents faced with kids’ changing tastes and opinions, navigating back-to-school shopping can be a harrowing process. Buy him the wrong backpack, and he’ll be the uncool kid on the bus. Pick out the wrong jeans for her, and she’ll be shamed by society. While neither scenario will cause kids any real harm, there is one area of back-to-school shopping where a wrong move could have health ramifications for kids—shoe shopping.
“Foot health is directly related to overall health, no matter your age,” says Steven A. Gordon DPM, a podiatrist at Reston Podiatry Associates, LTD and member of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). “Proper footwear is essential to foot health, so it’s important for parents to ensure kids go back to school with a good foundation on their feet. Shoes are one of the most important back-to-school purchases parents will make.”
Children’s feet change and grow with them, and parents may find they need to update their kids’ shoes and socks every few months to accommodate this growth. Shoes that don’t fit properly can irritate the feet and affect how well a child walks, runs, and plays.
APMA offers parents some advice for finding shoes that are good for kids’ feet and also live up to their exacting tastes:
- Always buy new—never used—and never hand down footwear. Sharing shoes can spread fungi like athlete’s foot. What’s more, children’s feet are as unique as they are. A shoe that fits one child comfortably may not fit another child as well. Plus, shoes that have been worn tend to conform to the foot of the wearer and may be uncomfortable for anyone else to put on.
- Test the shoe before allowing a child to try it on. Check for a stiff heel by pressing on both sides of the heel counter; it shouldn’t collapse under the pressure. Bend the shoe with your hands to ensure it will bend with your child’s toes; it shouldn’t be too stiff. Try twisting the shoe; it should be rigid across the middle and never twist in that area.
- Go shopping together. Shopping with your child ensures you can have his or her foot measured professionally, and that your child can test the shoe for a proper fit, give you his or her opinion of it, and learn from you the finer points of buying a good shoe. “Kids who learn how to select a comfortable, supportive shoe may be less likely to make wrong footwear choices as adults, which could save them a lot of discomfort,” Dr. Gordon says.
- Remember to shop for shoes later in the day when feet are at their largest, and always buy for the larger foot. Having your child’s feet measured will help identify which foot is larger. Additionally, remember to have your child wear the type of socks or tights he or she will most likely wear with the shoe.
- Avoid buying shoes that need a “break-in” period. Footwear should be comfortable right away. Once the school year is underway, keep an eye on your child’s shoes—active kids may wear out footwear faster than adults. Be vigilant for signs of irritation, such as your child always wanting to remove one or both shoes. The footwear may no longer fit properly, especially if it’s been a few months since you bought the shoes.
Finally, be sure children wear shoes that are appropriate for their activities. “If your daughter plays sports, she should wear a good athletic shoe designed for that sport,” says Dr. Gordon. “If your son is a runner, he’ll need a good running shoe.”
For daily wear when kids do a lot of walking, choose a good, supportive shoe. Keep sandals, flip-flops, and heels for occasional wear only.
If your child complains of foot pain or experiences an injury, take him or her to a podiatrist. Podiatrists are uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat ailments of the feet.
Steven Gordon, DPM, is a podiatrist at Reston Podiatry Associates, LTD in Reston, Virginia. Call 703-437-6333 or visit www.FootVA.com to make an appointment. Visit www.apma.org to learn more about foot health and care.
Northern Virginia women's feet hurt more in autumn
(Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg, VA – 9/4/15) Autumn is a painful time of year for many Northern Virginia women.
As they transition from open-toed sandals to closed-in boots and shoes, foot and ankle surgeon Steven Gordon, DPM, FACFAS, says he notices more women seeking relief for painful bunions. Dr. Gordon has offices in Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg. He says this trend plays out in the examining rooms of many foot and ankle surgeons every autumn.
"Some of my female bunion patients are in agony," says Gordon. "They describe a constant, throbbing pain, even when they take their shoes off."
While the changing weather brings more bunion patients into his office, Dr. Steven Gordon says some women inquire about surgery in the fall because they're less busy than in summer months. Many are also closer to meeting their insurance deductibles.
Dr. Gordon emphasizes that surgery is a last-resort treatment for women with painful bunions.
"For many women, simple changes like wearing shoes with wider toe boxes can significantly reduce bunion pain," he says. "Custom shoe inserts, gel- or foam-filled padding and anti-inflammatory medications may also provide pain relief."
When the pain of a bunion interferes with a woman's daily activities, it's time to discuss surgical options, according to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.
The College provides answers to frequently asked questions about bunion surgery on its Web site, FootHealthFacts.org.
Dr. Steven Gordon can be contacted at his Reston Office at 703-437-6333, his Manassas Office at 703-368-7166, and his Leesburg Office at 703-777-2101.