Posts for: March, 2017
Ten timely tips to get feet ready for spring
From slogging through snow, ice, and slush to being confined in heavy boots to fight the cold—if your feet could talk, what a tale of winter woe they might tell. You may be tempted to pull your sandals out of the closet and stuff your heaviest hosiery to the back of the sock drawer, but before you set your soles free to savor spring, some preparation is in order. Being cooped up in cramped footwear during winter months can cause feet to suffer from a variety of ailments, from dry, flaky skin and discolored toenails to pesky corns and unsightly calluses. Pampering your feet in preparation for warm weather can help feet look and feel their best when warmer weather calls for donning flip-flops and peep-toe shoes.
“Caring for your feet not only promotes good hygiene, but it can also alert you to any problem areas that may need attention before slipping into sandals this spring,” says Steven Gordon DPM, a podiatrist at Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg Foot and Ankle Centers and member of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). “Plus, it’s a good way to relax and de-stress after a tiring winter. When your feet feel good, you’re more likely to feel good all over.”
APMA offers these 10 tips for getting your feet spring-ready:
Start with a soak. Immerse your feet in warm water with Epsom salts, herbal soaks, or oils for at least 10 minutes.
Use a pumice stone or foot file to gently remove thickened, dead skin build-up (calluses) around the pre-soaked heels and the balls and sides of the feet. Never use a razor, as it removes too much skin and can easily cause infection or permanent damage if used incorrectly.
Eliminate dry, flaky winter skin on the soles, sides, and tops of the feet by using an exfoliating scrub.
Massage a generous amount of emollient-enriched skin lotion all over your feet. The lotion hydrates the skin, and the massaging helps to promote circulation. “Be sure to remove any excess moisturizer from under your toenails or between toes,” Dr. Gordon adds. “Build-up in those areas can provide a breeding ground for bacteria.”
Use a straight-edged toenail clipper to trim nails to just the end of each toe to ensure nails don’t become curved or rounded in the corners.
Help lock in moisture by wearing a pair of poly-cotton blend socks at bedtime.
Forgo nail polish if your nails are not healthy. If you have healthy nails, remove polish regularly to keep them in top condition.
Wash your feet daily with soap and water. Dry carefully, paying extra attention to the areas between your toes.
Inspect last spring and summer’s footwear. Throw away any shoes or sandals that appear worn.
If any skin or nail problems exist, see a podiatrist for a medical diagnosis. Today’s podiatrists are physicians, surgeons, and specialists trained to diagnose and treat conditions that affect the foot, ankle, and related structures of the leg.
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 Leesburg 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.”
If you have diabetes it's important that you know how to care for your feet.
Having diabetes can be stressful. Making all those lifestyle changes alone can feel daunting, let alone trying to figure out how to manage your condition and keep symptoms under control. While diabetes can cause serious health issues, particularly for your feet, know that our Reston, Manassas and Leesburg, VA, podiatrists are here for you. So, why is foot care so very important when you have diabetes?
Diabetes can cause nerve damage and circulation issues, and even increase your chances of infection. To protect your feet from serious problems it’s important that you take these necessary but easy measures:
Keep Your Feet Clean
While this should go without saying, it’s important that you wash your feet every day. This means actually washing your feet with soap and water, and making sure to wash between the toes.
Feet Should Stay Dry
Once you are out of the shower it’s important to thoroughly dry your feet to prevent fungal infections. If you find that your feet are particularly sweaty it’s a good idea to invest in moisture-wicking socks and to use antifungal powder on your feet and in your shoes.
Perform Self-Exams on Your Feet
The best way to be able to detect problems or changes in your feet is if you actually check them every day. If you need to, use a hand mirror to look under your feet and other hard-to-see areas. Look for redness, swelling, tender spots, sores, open cuts or changes to the color of the skin. If you notice any of these issues it’s important that you see us right away.
Reston, Manassas and Leesburg Foot and Ankle Centers are happy to provide foot care for Virginians. If you are currently dealing with diabetic foot problems in Reston, Manassas or Leesburg, VA, then it’s time you gave us a call right away. Nothing is more important than your health.
Check Pain Management Off Your List of Foot Surgery Worries
Foot and ankle surgeons share reassuring insight on managing pain after surgery
(Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg, VA – 03/09/2017) – 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 Associate 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. Steven 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. 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.
A parent’s guide to foot health for athletic kids
Millions of American children will participate in warm weather sports this year, from softball to soccer and swimming to cycling. No matter what their sport or whether they play competitively or just for fun, they will have one important thing in common: They’ll need their feet to be pain-free if they're going to play their best and prevent injuries.
“Sports play a significant role in the lives of millions of young athletes,” says Steven Gordon, DPM, a podiatrist at Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg Foot and Ankle Centers and member of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). “Parents need to be aware that sports, which require a substantial amount of running, turning, and contact, can translate to injuries. Protecting children’s feet from injuries, and bringing them to a podiatrist when problems occur, can help keep kids in the game and make the sport more enjoyable.”
APMA offers some tips for helping protect children’s feet while playing warm-weather sports:
Protective taping of the ankles is often necessary to help prevent sprains or fractures.
Buying a shoe designed for the specific sport your child plays not only improves your child’s performance in the sport, but it also can help protect him or her from serious foot and ankle injuries. APMA has given its Seal of Acceptance to select sports footwear, which offer quality materials and protective support.
Without the right sock, even the best athletic shoe won’t score points—on the field or off. Athletic socks should consist of a natural/synthetic blend, which is best at wicking away moisture and minimizing foot odor. Socks should not have large seams that might cause blisters or irritation. Commonly played warm-weather sports and the risks associated with them include:
Basketball - Children playing basketball may be at risk for ankle sprains, tendinitis, and plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the thick band of tissue on the sole of the foot). To minimize the risk of foot injury, choose a shoe with a thick, stiff sole, high ankle support, and shock absorption.
Tennis - The rapid, repetitive lateral movements and shifting of weight required of tennis players can lead to injuries such as ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis, and corns or calluses. Tennis players will do best with a flexible-soled shoe that supports both sides of the foot.
Running - Movements required of runners include leg extension and hitting the balls of the feet with a great deal of force. Running can lead to shin splints, heel pain, and blisters. A good running shoe should offer good support and shock absorption. In some cases, custom orthotics may be necessary to provide additional support and control of foot motion.
Soccer - The running, jumping, and lateral movements required of soccer players can lead to many foot injuries, with heel pain and shin splints being among the most common. Soccer shoes should provide multiple cleats in the heel area and enough room for thick soccer socks.
“Sports-related foot and ankle injuries are on the rise as more children participate actively in sports,” Dr. Gordon says. “Parents need to be vigilant to ensure children’s feet remain healthy and safe. And remember—lack of complaint by a child is not a reliable sign that everything is fine. The bones of growing feet are so flexible that they can be twisted and distorted without the child being aware of it.”
Ensuring your child’s feet stay healthy could go a long way—your young athlete could one day be the next LeBron James or Brandi Chastain. If your child participates in strenuous sports, monitor his or her foot health closely. If you suspect a problem, take your child to a podiatrist for evaluation and treatment.