Posts for: September, 2016
Check Pain Management Off Your List of Foot Surgery Worries
Foot and ankle surgeons share reassuring insight on managing pain after surgery
(Reston, Manassas, Leesburg, VA – 9/23/16) – With any surgery comes reasonable concerns. Depending on the person, your mind could start racing anywhere from the seriousness of your condition, to the procedure itself, to out-of-pocket costs or the required downtime. However, when it comes to foot and ankle surgery, there is the inevitable question: How bad will it hurt afterward?
Even if you have a high tolerance for pain, the unfortunate truth is that pain can accompany the healing process following any surgery. “But, with the proper care, healing after foot and ankle surgery can be more comfortable than people might expect, according to Virginia-based foot and ankle surgeon and American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeon Fellow Member, Steven Gordon, DPM, FACFAS.
“With the availability of such a large variety of highly effective pain medications, fear of pain should be the last deterrent keeping patients from having foot or ankle surgery. Patients can take comfort in knowing that as surgeons, we have an equally vested interest in keeping them comfortable so their surgical experience is positive and they have a speedy recovery,” said Dr. Gordon.
Dr. Gordon explains that patients can receive a local, long-lasting anesthetic immediately following surgery, which significantly decreases pain. Also, in today’s healthcare climate where efforts to reduce prescription drug addiction are at an all-time high, there are stronger anti-inflammatory medications available, which can eliminate the need for pain relievers containing narcotics.
Of course, not all pain being created equal, there are other options for patients to manage their comfort levels following surgery. Depending on the expected degree of pain, patients can take home a pain pump, which allows them to self-administer pain medication intravenously, allowing for a faster and more potent delivery.
“Ultimately, if a patient needs to undergo surgery, it clearly means something is wrong and requires medical correction or extraction. That in mind, we want to help patients feel good about their surgery and think about how better they will feel afterward, versus the pain during healing,” reasons Dr. Gordon.
In addition to medication, a tried and true method in controlling pain following foot or ankle surgery is to apply rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). “Using the RICE method reduces swelling in the surgical area. By reducing the swelling, inflammation is minimized, which in large part lowers pain," added
Dr. Steven Gordon.
The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons recommends patients talk to their foot and ankle surgeon before their procedure to determine how much pain they can expect and the plan of action for managing their pain after surgery.
For more information on controlling your pain after foot or ankle surgery, contact Dr. Gordon at 703-437-6333 for the Reston Office, 703-368-7166 for the Manassas Office, or 703-777-2101 for the Leesburg Office.
Getting help for the most-common, most-ignored type of pain
If our teeth ache, most of us will head quickly to the dentist for treatment. But if your feet hurt, do you just chalk up the pain as a discomfort of modern life? Sadly, most of us do. Most Americans say they have foot pain at least some of the time, and more of us have pain in our feet than in any other part of our bodies we consider vital to health, such as skin, teeth, or even the heart, according to a 2012 survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). Yet feet rank lowest on the list of body parts and functions that Americans consider important to their health, the APMA study shows.
Additionally, many Americans don’t seek foot care from a podiatrist—a doctor specially trained to care for feet. “Foot health directly affects the quality of our lives,” says Steven Gordon, DPM, a podiatrist at Reston, Manassas and Leesburg Foot and Ankle Center and APMA member. “When our feet are healthy, feeling good, and working well, they can enable us to go about our normal routines. But injured, ill, or just plain sore feet can undermine the foundation of our good health.”
Feet are often indicators of our overall health; signs of arthritis, diabetes, and nerve and circulatory problems can all be detected in the feet. People suffering from foot pain are also more likely to suffer from a variety of other health issues, including back, knee, and joint pain, and weight and heart problems.
So how do you know if your foot pain is just annoying, or serious enough to merit a visit to a podiatrist? “Persistent pain or sudden, severe pain should definitely raise warning bells,” says Dr. Gordon. “Beyond that, keep in mind that there are many sources of foot pain, and many foot ailments that can be treated best by a podiatrist.” These conditions can include:
- athlete’s foot;
- bunions—an enlargement of the joint at the base of the big toe;
- foot and ankle injuries;
- heel pain, especially if it is chronic;
- nail problems, including nail fungus;
- peripheral arterial disease—a blockage or narrowing of the arteries in the legs;
- pinched nerves;
- skin cancer;
- warts; and
- wounds or nerve damage due to diabetes
Today’s podiatrist is a true expert, trained to diagnose and treat conditions affecting the foot, ankle, and related structures of the leg. The country’s 15,000 practicing podiatrists work in a variety of disciplines, from sports medicine and pediatrics, to dermatology and diabetes. Podiatrists can:
- perform surgery;
- provide complete medical histories and physical exams;
- prescribe medicine;
- set breaks and treat sports-related injuries;
- prescribe and fit appliances, insoles, and custom-made shoes;
- order and provide physical therapy;
- order and interpret X-rays and other imaging scans; and
- work as a member of your health-care team
With fall sports ramping up it’s important that you follow certain tips to keep feet injury-free this season.
Even though saying goodbye to summer can be disappointing, we do welcome the start of fall sports. Sometimes there is nothing better than watching a local football game with a cozy sweatshirt and a mug of hot cider. Whether you are thinking of joining a league or your child is getting ready to gear up for the school’s football team, remember these words of advice from our Manassas, Leesburg and Reston, VA podiatrists on how to keep feet healthy and safe during the season:
Warm-Up Before Every Game
Your coach has probably already told you the importance of warming-up your body before heading into a game. While you may not enjoy doing light cardio or active stretching your body needs it before taking on such an intense game. Warming up the muscles before each game will help to limber up the body and prevent injuries.
Wear the Right Shoes
You’d be surprised how many people think that any old athletic shoes will do, but if you think so you are making a big mistake. Not all shoes are created equal and you’ll want to choose the proper shoes for your sport. If you are feeling completely confused about which type of shoes are right for you head to your local specialty shoe store.
Consider the Benefits of Orthotics
If you are finding that your shoes aren’t giving you enough protection, support or shock absorption and you need to keep your feet feeling their best while in the heat of the game, you may want to ask our Manassas, Leesburg and Reston foot doctor about whether custom orthotics could help you. Structural imbalances and many foot conditions can benefit from what orthotics can offer.
Train All Year Long
You wouldn’t go into a test unprepared so why would you go into a training season without keeping your physical activity and training up throughout the year? Don’t just sit back on the off-season and expect to pick right back up where you left off during the fall. You need to prepare your body for such intense physical training. Talk to your coach about ways to keep your body working at its best during the off-season so you can really shine when it’s time to hit the field.
If you have questions about custom orthotics or other ways to protect your feet, Manassas, Leesburg and Reston Foot and Ankle Centers are here to help. From athletes to working professionals, we work with everyone to improve their foot health.
Don't let sore feet trip up your travel plans
Whether you travel for business or pleasure, whether you fly, drive, or take a train, there’s one other mode of transportation you’ll almost certainly use on your trip: your feet. During the course of a regular day, the average person walks 8,000 to 10,000 steps, but that number can increase dramatically when you’re traveling. From inappropriate footwear to long stretches of inactivity in cramped cars or airplane seats, traveling can be hard on your feet.
“Exploring a new destination with family and friends, or getting to that important business meeting on time, should not involve having to struggle with foot pain,” says Shaun Hafner, DPM, a podiatrist at Reston Foot and Ankle Center and member of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). “By following basic foot care practices, travelers can help ensure foot pain doesn’t slow down their enjoyment of the journey.”
If you're planning a trip, the APMA recommends you take a few steps to ease the wear and tear on your foot muscles and joints:
- Start out with the proper footwear. If you’re flying, shoes that slide on and off easily make sense, but don’t sacrifice health and safety for convenience. Choose footwear that is comfortable and supportive. Business travelers—especially women—may want to pack their dress shoes in their carry-on and wear comfortable footwear while traveling. If you’re driving, and don’t have to worry about speedy shoe removal, go with a comfortable, supportive athletic shoe that will allow your feet to breathe and provide ample cushioning.
- Never go barefoot through airport security. While current security regulations require all travelers to remove their shoes, you’re not required to remove your socks unless a security officer asks you to. Keep your socks on to help protect your feet from dirt and bacteria.
- If possible, get up and walk around every 45 minutes. Sitting for long periods of time restricts blood flow to the legs and feet, which can lead to swelling and, in extreme cases, blood clots. If walking around isn’t possible—if you're in a car for a couple of hours or stuck in your seat during a turbulent flight—exercise your legs, ankles, and feet while seated. Roll your ankles and point your toes up and down to encourage blood flow. If you have the room to do so, raise each knee and hold it for a few seconds while tensing your thigh muscles. If your feet begin to swell, unlace your shoes.
- Even with the best precautions, vacation walking can create a foot emergency. Pack a foot care emergency kit that’s equipped with adhesive bandages, antibiotic cream, tweezers, and nail clippers. You can also include foot lotion for a soothing massage.
- Finally, travel time is no time to try breaking in new shoes. In fact, new shoes should never have to be “broken in” before they feel comfortable. Shoes should be comfortable, without chafing or pinching, from the first time you put them on. If they are not, don’t buy them.