Posts for: June, 2017
Practical, protective foot health steps for people with diabetes
Healthy feet are essential for overall good health, no matter your age, fitness level, or physical challenges. For people with diabetes, however, taking care of their feet is especially vital. More than 60 percent of all non-traumatic lower-limb amputations worldwide are related to complications from the disease, according to the American Diabetes Association.
A 2012 study by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) indicates Hispanics with diabetes are particularly in danger, because more than 90 percent of those with the disease or at risk for it have never seen a podiatrist as part of their health care.
“The leading cause of hospitalization among people with diabetes—regardless of ethnicity—is foot ulcers and infections, but most of those problems are largely preventable,” says Steven Gordon, DPM, a podiatrist at Manassas, Reston and Leesburg Foot and Ankle Centers and APMA member. “It’s important for those with the disease to ‘knock their socks off’ and receive regular foot exams by today’s podiatrists.”
While ulcers—open sores on the foot—are the most common diabetes-related foot problem, several others are also serious and prevalent, including neuropathy, skin changes, calluses, poor circulation, and infection. The nerve damage that diabetes causes may mean a person with an ulcer or injury may be unaware of it until it becomes infected. Infection can lead to partial or full amputation of the foot or lower leg.
The good news is, regular care from a podiatrist can help reduce amputation rates between 45 and 85 percent, according to APMA.
People with diabetes need to inspect their feet daily and be vigilant for warning signs of ulcers, including irritation, redness, cracked or dry skin (especially around the heels), or drainage on their socks.
“Although ulcers can occur anywhere on the foot or ankle, they are typically found on pressure points on the foot, like the ball of the foot or bottom of the big toe,” adds Dr. Gordon.“If you discover an ulcer or have any symptoms, see a podiatrist immediately. In many cases, the foot can be saved with early treatment.”
In addition to examining your feet every day, and keeping your blood glucose in your target range, make sure to follow these foot health tips:
- Discuss your diabetes and the risks with your family. Diabetes can be hereditary, so talk to your family members about monitoring blood sugar and foot health.
- Never go barefoot. Always protect your feet with the proper footwear and make sure socks and shoes are comfortable and fit well.
- Trim toenails straight across, and never cut the cuticles. Seek immediate treatment for ingrown toenails, as they can lead to serious infection.
- Keep your feet elevated while sitting.
- Wiggle toes and move your feet and ankles up and down for five-minute sessions throughout the day.
“Successfully managing diabetes is a team effort, and today’s podiatrist is an integral player on that team,” Dr. Gordon says.
The podiatry team at the Reston Foot and Ankle Center in Reston, Manassas and Leesburg, VA are focused on helping patients with foot problems ranging from plantar fasciitis to bunions. Find out who is more prone to developing foot conditions, why, and how you can avoid future problems yourself.
Women Who Wear High-Heels Everyday
As much as women love wearing attractive high heels, these shoes can wreak havoc on the feet -- especially when they’re worn for many hours during the day on a regular basis. It’s no wonder that women are at a higher risk of severe foot pain according to a report by the New York Times. High heels are designed for looks, not comfort. For instance, the front part of a heel is usually curved inward, causing the toes to crush together. This can cause bunions. The height of the heel also puts a strain on the ligaments that run under the feet and can cause plantar fasciitis or heel spurs to form.
Employees Who Work On Their Feet For Extended Shifts
The doctors at Reston Foot and Ankle Center often treat patients who have work-related foot pain. Here are some of the workers who most often complain about foot related injuries and pain:
- construction workers
- movers and heavy lifters
- retail workers
Standing for long periods of time can cause pain from flat-footedness, including plantar fasciitis. Ankle and foot (stress) fractures are also a risk for employees who work with heavy objects and are on their feet for long periods.
Athletes Who Participate In High Energy Sports
There's a reason why many sports teams choose to have a podiatrist on staff. Athletes in sports like basketball, baseball, football, lacrosse, soccer and track often are prone to foot conditions like achilles tendinitis, fractures and heel sprains or pain. This is because they do a lot of running, twisting and turning on the balls of their feet. They also often complain about foot and toenail fungus from wearing sweaty sneakers for long periods of time.
Do You Fall Into Any Of These Categories?
If you fall into one or more of these categories of patients who are most prone to foot problems, please contact Reston, Manassas and Leesburg Foot and Ankle Centers for foot care solutions. Call the Reston office at (703) 437-6333, the Manassas location at (703) 368-7166 or the office in Leesburg at (703) 777-2101.
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 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:
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;
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:
provide complete medical histories and physical exams;
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
Flip-flop fans: Cold, hard facts about your favorite hot weather footwear
It’s easy to understand why we all love flip-flops: They’re cute and comfy, keep your feet cool in warm weather, and are great for showing off that fab pedicure you just got. But no matter how much you adore your flip-flops, they shouldn’t be all-occasion footwear. Sometimes, they can lead to sore feet or even severe injury.
“Flip-flops are hugely popular, but it’s important to remember they’re not appropriate for everyday wear or for all occasions,” says Shaun Hafner, DPM, a podiatrist at Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg Foot and Ankle Centers and member of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). “Every spring and summer, podiatric offices see an influx of patients with injuries and ailments directly related to wearing flip-flops at the wrong time or wearing the wrong flip-flops altogether.”
The secret to safely enjoying flip-flops through summer is two-fold, Dr. Hafner says. First, find the right style, and second, know when to wear flip-flops and when to wear something else.
How to choose flip-flops
Some styles of flip-flops may cause blistering and pain, and increase your risk of injury in certain situations. It is possible to find a better flip-flop. APMA offers some tips:
Look for high-quality, soft leather, which will minimize the risk of blisters and other skin irritations. Vinyl or rubber styles are more likely to rub your foot the wrong way. Find footwear products that have earned APMA’s Seal of Acceptance by visiting www.apma.org/seal. The seal indicates that a team of APMA podiatrists has evaluated the product to ensure it promotes normal foot function and health.
Choose a flip-flop with soles that bend at the ball of the foot. If you can bend the sole completely in half or wring it like a wet rag, the sole will not provide proper support.
The thong part of the flip-flop should fit comfortably, neither too loose nor too snug. Straps that are too tight could rub and cause blisters. Too-loose straps may result in you losing the shoe at a critical moment—resulting in injury. Consider a flip-flop with extra padding on the part of the strap that fits between your toes.
Your foot should fit perfectly on the sole. Your heel should not hang off the back, nor your toes off the front.
Dispose of worn flip-flips, no matter how much you loved them last year. Old shoes lose their ability to support and protect your feet, and it’s easy to find a new pair to replace old ones.
When to wear flip-flops
A shoe style that was once relegated to beach or poolside is now considered acceptable in a variety of settings. It’s not uncommon to see people wearing flip-flops to the mall or grocery store, when they’re out for a stroll, or even in the office. Flip-flops have even made inroads into the bridal scene, with some comfort-minded brides wearing them for their weddings and receptions.
Deciding whether wearing flip-flops is socially appropriate for the occasion is up to you, but there are some times when you should not wear them for safety reasons.
When doing yard work—such as mowing the lawn or working in the garden—it’s best to wear shoes that cover and protect your entire foot. Flip-flops don’t offer sufficient support or protection.
For long walks, opt for a good walking shoe. Even the sturdiest styles of flip-flops don’t offer sufficient arch support and shock absorption for extended walking.
Playing sports calls for the right footwear. Choose a shoe that is designed for the sport you’re playing. Flip-flops don’t offer adequate support or protection for hard play and may come off your foot at a crucial moment. They might lose you the game at best, and leave you with a foot or ankle injury at worst.
Finally, put away your flip-flops when the weather is bad. “This one may seem obvious,” Dr. Hafner says, “but some people continue to wear their flip-flops even when the temperature drops, rain falls, or snow is on the ground. Wearing flip-flops in bad weather puts you at risk of injury if your foot slips out of a wet shoe or even frostbite if temperatures fall too low.”